Dawson housing estate gets a facelift with touch of heritage
Stylish new BTO project unveiled, expert says prices of such flats will be competitive
A new lease of life has been breathed into sleepy Queenstown, where two swanky Build-To-Order (BTO) projects now stand tall.
Last week, reporters were taken around the Dawson estate, where work has been ongoing as part of the Remaking Our Heartland (ROH) scheme. The scheme was announced in 2007.
There is greenery hugging every corner of Dawson's SkyVille and SkyTerrace projects, with bits of history waiting to be found in the Housing Board's (HDB) first satellite town.
Launched in December 2009 and completed last year, the upmarket BTO flats at SkyVille @ Dawson and SkyTerrace @ Dawson were a huge hit.
A total of 40 studio apartments, 270 three-room flats, 1,102 four-room flats, 176 five-room flats and 65 paired units were on sale.
Despite costing more than two other BTO projects - Montreal Dale at Sembawang and Segar Grove at Bukit Panjang - launched in the same period, the Dawson BTO projects drew overwhelming response, with some flats almost 12 times oversubscribed.
The starting price of a three-room unit at Dawson is $280,000, as compared to the $125,000 starting price tag for a BTO flat at Montreal Dale or Segar Grove.
ERA Realty Network's key executive officer Eugene Lim explained that the higher price was due to a combination of location and design.
Calling the Dawson flats a "landmark HDB project" as they are in the first phase of projects under the ROH scheme, Mr Lim said: "Dawson is centrally located. It is in a prime area near the city, so you already have a location premium on the flat.
"Then, they throw in a premium design. This adds to the purchase price."
The prices are within HDB’s control.ERA Realty Network’s key executive officer Eugene Lim
HDB said, where possible, it will implement the landscaping concepts and ideas learnt from projects in other estates.
When asked if this would drive up prices of future BTO flats, Mr Lim said: "The prices are within HDB's control. It is very clear that the flats have to be affordable for everyone.
"It has to adjust for location differences. If you take the same design and features to a non-mature estate, the prices will be slightly different."
Five more projects are expected to be up by 2020.
Residents in the 31 blocks in Tanglin Halt Road and Commonwealth Drive picked for the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme have been offered replacement units in these five projects at subsidised prices.
Other estates slated for a facelift are Toa Payoh, Woodlands, Pasir Ris, Hougang, East Coast, Jurong Lake, Punggol and Yishun.
Marrying old with new in Dawson is in line with HDB's Dawson Landscape Master Plan, conceived to realise a "housing-in-a-park" vision.
HDB's director for landscape and design, Mr Brian Low, said architects have "taken great pains" to conserve the heritage of Dawson.
This includes the iconic blue glass panels in the sky gardens at SkyVille @ Dawson.
Dawson was colloquially known as the "Blue Windows" because of the unique blue glass louvred windows at the former Forfar House in Strathmore Avenue. There are also artist-commissioned panels depicting the fishing village life in Dawson in the 1950s and 1960s.
Within one of the projects, HDB is building a 200m-long eco-corridor that will connect to the precinct garden at SkyVille @ Dawson.
The aim was to ensure greenery links all the projects together, said HDB's Mr Low, who said that the garden landscape is a step away from the usual manicured areas many are used to.
"The idea is to have a natural look (and) natural feel, because this is how nature is," he said.
Dawson homes set in a park
The Remaking Our Heartland initiative was launched in 2007 to spruce up public housing estates, injecting new facilities such as integrated complexes that combine transport, recreation and other uses - while still retaining the area's heritage.
Each estate will build on what makes it unique to capitalise on the area's distinct personality and make it endearing.
The plan to rejuvenate Dawson, in Queenstown, one of the three estates earmarked for a facelift in 2007, was unveiled in Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's 2007 National Day Rally speech.
"The old estates also have great potential. We are redeveloping selected sites within these estates, one by one, but where we can clear a big piece of land, then we can transform the whole area and make it like a new estate," he said then.
Dawson took on the "housing-in-a-park" concept, with a new generation of public housing set within lush greenery.
The other two estates in the first phase were Yishun and Punggol.
Four years later, East Coast, Hougang and Jurong Lake were selected as the second batch of estates.
Last year, Toa Payoh, Woodlands and Pasir Ris were the third batch of towns selected for the programme.