Simei: Small es­tate with big po­ten­tial

Simei, named af­ter the Four Beau­ties of an­cient China, has an al­lure that is at­tract­ing lo­cals and ex­pats alike to call it home.

Home & Decor (Singapore) - - Front Page -

Once upon a time in the 1980s, Xishi, Diaochan, Yang Guifei and Zhao­jun – the Four Great Beau­ties of an­cient China – lent their names to the four main streets of the then-new town of Simei (“four beau­ties” in Man­darin). It was only when res­i­dents com­plained that they were too dif­fi­cult to pro­nounce, that the Hous­ing Board (HDB) re­named them Simei Streets 1, 2, 3 and 4 in 1987.

Nev­er­the­less, these ladies have since been im­mor­talised in the town through wall mu­rals at the void decks of some HDB blocks. How­ever, an­other – more bor­ing – story tells that the town was named af­ter Jalan Soo Bee, lo­cated near the junc­tion of Simei Av­enue and Up­per Changi Road. And so “Simei”, the Man­darin trans­la­tion of “Soo Bee”, was adopted dur­ing the Gov­ern­ment’s drive to re­place di­alect names with hanyu pinyin ones.

What­ever its roots, Simei hits the sweet spot for many shop­ping for a home in the east. One of the five sub­zones of the Tampines plan­ning area, it mea­sures 225ha, or just 11 per cent of the to­tal land area of Tampines New Town. HDB started de­vel­op­ing flats there in 1984, with the first res­i­dents mov­ing in two years later. Grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity Ac­claimed lawyer Rajan Chet­tiar, who wrote about his first HDB flat-hunt­ing ex­pe­ri­ence back in 2004 in an ar­ti­cle for

The Sin­ga­pore Law Gazette, re­called that he and his wife favoured Simei over Tampines (too crowded) and Pasir Ris (too vast and ob­scure). “(Simei) was the most ideal lo­ca­tion – I have al­ways wanted to live in a small hous­ing es­tate. It is quiet. There

are no mad­den­ing crowds and yet there is a suf­fi­cient level of ac­tiv­ity and life to make the place in­ter­est­ing,” he wrote. Years later, how­ever, he lamented that Simei be­came too crowded.

As of 2015, Simei is home to 42,710 res­i­dents. Among them are proud home­own­ers of Parc Lu­miere, a 360-unit De­sign, Build & Sell Scheme (DBSS) project com­pleted in 2011. The con­dostyle HDB project, de­signed with bay win­dows and spa­cious bal­conies, made the news as the first DBSS project to go on sale via a walk-in se­lec­tion ba­sis in­stead of through a bal­lot. Hun­dreds of ea­ger buy­ers queued overnight to book a unit, priced from $378,000 for a four­room flat, to $575,000 for a five-room flat. To­day, a re­sale four-room unit is mar­keted at $650,000.

An­other tes­ta­ment to Simei’s pop­u­lar­ity: pri­vate prop­erty de­vel­op­ers pay­ing top dol­lar for a piece of the ac­tion.

In 2010, CEL De­vel­op­ment – a prop­erty arm of Chip Eng Seng – out­bid 17 other com­peti­tors with the high­est of­fer of $152.7 mil­lion for a res­i­den­tial site on Simei Street 3, just across Simei MRT sta­tion and East­point Mall. At $523psf per plot ra­tio, it was much higher than an­a­lysts’ ear­lier pre­dic­tions of $295 to $410. This re­sulted in the 301-unit con­do­minium My Man­hat­tan, com­pleted in 2014. Since then, units have trans­acted between $1,123 to $1,330psf. Land­lords are bank­ing on its prime spot to jus­tify high rent; a 400sqf shoe­box unit was re­cently put up for lease at $1,850 per month. For home buy­ers on a tighter bud­get, East­point Green – com­pleted in 1998 – is about 420m away from Simei MRT sta­tion and com­mands sub­stan­tially lower prices than My Man­hat­tan, de­spite be­ing on the same street. A 1,119sqf three-bed­der was re­cently mar­keted at $860,000, or just $768.54psf. Over the years, Simei, with its close prox­im­ity to Changi Busi­ness Park, has been at­tract­ing more ex­pats, par­tic­u­larly In­di­ans. A 2012 ar­ti­cle in Tabla! even de­scribed Melville Park con­do­minium, where the com­mu­nity reg­u­larly or­gan­ised cricket games and ex­changed curry recipes, as “Simei’s Lit­tle In­dia”. A va­ri­ety of con­ve­niences Simei of­fers suf­fi­cient ameni­ties to meet res­i­dents’ needs, with its crown jewel be­ing the ex­panded six-storey East­point Mall near Simei MRT sta­tion. It un­der­went an ex­ten­sive facelift and re­opened in De­cem­ber 2014, with an ex­tra 12 per cent of space ded­i­cated to food and bev­er­age ar­eas.

A pop­u­lar cy­cling town, Simei also boasts a new Changi-Simei cy­cling path net­work, which al­lows res­i­dents to get around safely on pedal power. It is part of the Land Trans­port Au­thor­ity’s plan to build in­tra-town cy­cling path net­works span­ning over 700km in all HDB towns, by 2030. There are sev­eral parks and play­grounds in Simei, such as Mer­agi Road Park, Simei Park, and Sun­bird Cir­cle Play­ground.

In ad­di­tion, the Simei Park Con­nec­tor, which runs along ITE Col­lege East and Sin­ga­pore Expo, of­fers the first fit­ness cor­ner to com­ply with stan­dards set by Ex­er­cise Is Medicine Sin­ga­pore. This pro­gramme by the Changi Sports Medicine Cen­tre pro­motes ex­er­cise as a key way of pre­vent­ing and treat­ing dis­eases. Be­sides the usual equip­ment like par­al­lel bars, chin-up bars and steps, the fit­ness cor­ner in­cludes in­struc­tions to help users, in­clud­ing those with chronic ill­nesses, to cus­tomise their work­out to match spe­cific health needs.

Pro­vid­ing med­i­cal sup­port to the town are St. An­drew’s Com­mu­nity Hos­pi­tal and Changi Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal, while the pur­pose-built Or­ange Val­ley Nurs­ing Home of­fers elder­care ser­vice. The Changi Simei Com­mu­nity Cen­tre is an­other fa­cil­ity well utilised by res­i­dents. Be­sides the usual ac­tiv­i­ties and fa­cil­i­ties, it is also home to Den­nis Gym and Dy­nasty Seafood, a zichar restau­rant pop­u­lar for its sig­na­ture fish-head hot­pot. While Simei doesn’t boast any brand-name pri­mary or sec­ondary schools, it is well served by Changkat Pri­mary School, Changkat Changi Sec­ondary School, ITE Col­lege East and the Metta De­vel­op­ment School, which caters to stu­dents with mild in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties and mild autism spec­trum dis­or­ders. Just off Simei Road is the new cam­pus of the Sin­ga­pore Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy and De­sign in Soma­pah Road, com­pleted in 2015. With pro­grammes of­fered in part­ner­ship with pres­ti­gious in­sti­tu­tions like the Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, Zhe­jiang Univer­sity and Sin­ga­pore Man­age­ment Univer­sity, it is our fourth pub­lic univer­sity and the only one lo­cated in the east­ern part of Sin­ga­pore.

Ever ap­peal­ing

Per­haps the only things Simei lacks are its own wet mar­ket and hawker cen­tre.

Un­for­tu­nately, the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment and Wa­ter Re­sources con­firmed last year that there are no cur­rent plans to build one, as “there are suf­fi­cient eat­ing es­tab­lish­ments and com­mer­cial fa­cil­i­ties within the Simei es­tate”, said min­is­ter Masa­gos Zulk­i­fli, list­ing Tampines Round Mar­ket and Food Cen­tre as a nearby al­ter­na­tive.

For many, like civil ser­vant Ang LK, a hawker cen­tre will be a plus, but the lack of one cer­tainly doesn’t di­min­ish Simei’s at­trac­tive­ness. “We hope to take ad­van­tage of the cur­rent pri­vateprop­erty price de­cline and up­grade from a HDB flat to a value-for-money condo in Simei. Any­way, Simei is just one MRT stop away from Be­dok and Tampines, in case we need any­thing else!”

1 The newly com­pleted ChangiSimei cy­cling path net­work has bet­ter equipped Simei as a cy­cling town.

2 My Man­hat­tan con­do­minium of­fers own­ers and ten­ants great con­ve­nience with its easy ac­cess to East­point Mall and Simei MRT sta­tion across the road.

3 Fun fact: in 2015, the Changi Simei Com­mu­nity Club made it into the Sin­ga­pore Book of Records for the “Largest Logo Made of Push Cakes”, when res­i­dents baked 1,406 push cakes to form an SG50 logo mea­sur­ing 2.3m in di­am­e­ter. Talk about kam­pung spirit!

4 The first DBSS project sold through a walk-in se­lec­tion ba­sis in­stead of bal­lot­ing, Parc Lu­miere sparked overnight queues dur­ing its launch in 2009.

5 The Sin­ga­pore Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy and De­sign’s new cam­pus in Soma­pah Road of­fers res­i­dents the op­por­tu­nity for ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion near home.

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