The Arcadia’s residents seeking lease top-up

Residents at Arcadia condominium are seeking an extension of lease for the aging estate, not for the collective sale but to conserve the property’s three buildings on environmental and heritage grounds.

The condo’s management committee said it applied to the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) in 2010 to top up the lease back to 99 years.

If successful, the property will set a milestone in Singapore’s residential history.

Private properties in Singapore that fall below this level depreciate faster in value due to its smaller pool of interested buyers. Rules of the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board state that Singaporeans and permanent residents (PR) who are CPF members cannot use their CPF savings to acquire private homes with less than 60 years on the lease. Similarly, banks are also reluctant to fund loans for buyers of such properties.

The property’s management committee said it stressed its intention to conserve the property for its architectural value.

Inspired by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Arcadia was the first development in Singapore to feature vertical landscaping. It has garden terraces on every level and features unusual pyramid-shaped buildings that narrow towards the top.

“Arcadia epitomises the green lifestyle that the Government is encouraging and we feel that this estate deserves to be conserved, rather than let it become vulnerable to en bloc sale, which leads to demolition and further wastage of resources,” said Edwin Khew, the condo council’s treasurer.

Some property experts said it was rare for the SLA to grant a top-up if it was not for redevelopment or for extensive refurbishment.

“Topping up a lease on conservation and environmental grounds is untested. Planners generally like to keep their flexibility so they can rezone the land for other uses in the future if there’s a need,” said Colin Tan, Research and Consultancy Director at Chesterton Suntec International.

He added that if the residents are willing to show that the property will be kept in line with urban renewal, as well as pay for urban renewal, then there could be a case.

A spokesman of SLA declined to comment on the issue, as it would be a “breach of confidentiality obligations”.

But he added that SLA evaluates “each application on its merits and in consultation with the other government agencies.”

“The specific circumstances of each development determine if a lease extension should be granted and, if so, the length of the extension. For residential uses, the Government may allow lease extension if it results, for example, in land use intensification and mitigation of property decay.”

Source : PropertyGuru – 11 Apr 2011

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