Why would anyone pay $1 million to live in Queenstown?

Why would anyone pay $1 million to live in Queenstown?
The former Queenstown Remand Prison was said to be haunted.

A million bucks for an HDB flat?

With that kind of money, I could hire 3331/3 dishwashers for my sushi restaurant chain.

And the record-setting flat is in Queenstown?

More specifically, Block 149, Mei Ling Street.

That could've been my flat!

I used to live in Block 158, Mei Ling Street - only less than 10 block numbers away.

If only my family hadn't sold our flat in the mid-80s, we could be sitting on a million-dollar gold mine today.

So what if it isn't an executive maisonette (it's a two-bedroom unit) or 17 years old (it's closer to 40)?

I don't know how much money my parents got from the sale, but it's safe to say it didn't make us millionaires.

But having lived in Queenstown from when I was in kindergarten until when I was a poly student, I still have fond memories of the area and visit every few years out of nostalgia - sometimes using Google Maps Street View when I don't feel like making the trip.

But despite my lingering attachment to Queenstown, I have to wonder: Is living in one of Singapore's oldest HDB estates worth S$1 million?

Yes, you're near Queensway Shopping Centre, but you're also near the site of the former Queenstown Remand Prison, which has since been demolished. It was said to be haunted. I bet the property agent never mentioned that.

Yes, you're near Alexandra Hospital, but, I repeat, you're also near a haunted former prison.

Yes, you're near Queenstown Sports Complex, which includes a football field, a running track and five swimming pools, but have I mentioned the haunted former prison?

Yes, you're near Ikea Alexandra with its delicious meatballs and chicken wings, but they're not that delicious. Remember the prison.

Yes, you're near the historic Queenstown Public Library, which is 42 years old, but it's 42 years old.

Yes, you're near Queenstown Bowl, Queenstown and Queensway cinemas, but they've been out of business and abandoned for over a decade.

Yes, you're near Golden City and Venus cinemas (I watched The Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes in one of them), but the buildings have long since been converted to churches and later also abandoned.

So there are now no cinemas in Queenstown.

Yes, you're near the site of the former Tah Chung Emporium, the Ion Orchard of its day (where I once mistakenly bought liquor-filled chocolate and wondered why it tasted so awful), but it's now just flat ground.

Yes, you're near the Queenstown MRT station, but if you think you can board a packed train heading east during morning rush hour, prepare to be traumatised.

You'd have (slightly) better luck if you board the train going the opposite direction to Lakeside station, alight and take another train heading back east from there.

In which case, you might as well live near Lakeside station, which is in Jurong West - coincidentally, where I moved to from Mei Ling Street.

At least there are cinemas in Jurong.

So why would anyone pay S$1 million to live in Queenstown?

And then I noticed something.

Which housing estate did Prince William and his wife Kate visit last week?

It wasn't Bishan or Tampines.

It was Queenstown!

Coincidence?

The royal couple's Singapore itinerary was made public on Aug 30, which provided more than enough time for the million-dollar deal to be made.

Wayang aside, if only I knew of this itinerary 30 years ago, I would've urged my parents to stay put in Mei Ling Street for someday, our prince (and his wife) would come and turn our humble home into a million bucks.

I could buy 1,054 new iPhone 5s (without contract) with that kind of money.

Going to the cinema is overrated anyway.

smong@sph.com.sg

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