THE laid-back feel of the old Dawson estate in Queenstown will give way to a lot more hustle and bustle when new, designer-looking HDB flats go up in several years' time.
Property experts say the estate's impending transformation will give the wider area an added premium. Property values there already benefit from the fairly central location and proximity to the Queenstown MRT station.
'The estate is dated, but prices in and around the area should rise as the whole environment will improve with the transformation,' said ERA Singapore assistant vice-president Eugene Lim.
The 60ha estate was cited by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day Rally speech as an old estate with great redevelopment potential.
The Government has since displayed designs for three precincts in the estate by leading local architectural firms - Surbana International Consulants, Woha Architects and SCDA Architects - and is inviting public feedback.
Construction of this new generation of public housing is expected to begin within the next three to four years, said HDB.
Some new flats have already been put up in the estate, under the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme, which allows residents to be resettled in new flats after their old blocks are torn down for redevelopment.
As at July, about 2,970 flats had been completed, while another 794 flats are being constructed in the Strathmore Avenue area.
Nearby flats in the Stirling Road and Mei Ling Heights areas command a premium for their location, property agents say. Some buyers like Mei Ling Heights as it sits on higher ground.
Two low-floor, five-room flats on Mei Ling Street were sold last month: one for $570,000 and the other for $600,000.
In the Queenstown area in the second quarter, the average cash amount over valuation recorded for a five-room flat was relatively high at about $42,000. The average for Ang Mo Kio was $25,000; for Seng Kang, $5,000.
Prices in and around Dawson could rise by 20 per cent once plans for the estate are firmed up, said Mr Ku Swee Yong of property consultancy Savills Singapore.
The area might get a boost in value if the Government turns the entire Singapore River stretch, all the way to Alexandra Canal, into a family-friendly recreational area, said an industry observer.
Dawson does not have any private housing now, but the Government has plans to change this. Its projection of 10,000 dwelling units for the estate includes both public and private housing.
In the neighbouring Redhill area, which has a cluster of private housing, sub-sale prices have moved up in the past year.
Two 1,109 sq ft units at Tanglin Regency were sold for $884 per sq ft (psf) last month. At The Metropolitan Condominium, deals done in July and August ranged from $677 psf (for a 1,033 sq ft unit) to $1,119 psf (for a 2,680 sq ft unit).
'In Dawson, most of the private housing is likely to be targeted at upgraders in the estate,' said Mr Ku.
Thus, while the estate's value is expected to climb, the rise should be limited because it is essentially an HDB area, he said.
The area has upside potential but the extent of any price climb will depend on the market situation down the road, said Mr Lim.