$45m for 15 homes affected by Thomson-East Coast MRT line

SLA said some owners have accepted compensation; some filing appeals

Seven months after their properties were gazetted to be acquired for the construction of the Thomson-East Coast Line, owners of six semi-detached houses and nine walk-up apartments have been awarded compensation totalling $45 million.

The six houses are in Amber Road, Katong, while the apartments are part of a shophouse complex in Tanjong Katong Road.

While some owners say the amount, which works out at an average of $1,270 per sq ft, is fair, others are appealing for more.

One house owner, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: "I think the amount offered is fair, but I know there are others who are appealing for more."

Retired contractor Cheng Quek Hin, 66, said the amount offered to him and others in the apartments fell well below the area's going rate.

"We can easily get $1,300 to $1,600, but they are offering us much less," he said in Mandarin.

Dr Chua Yang Liang, JLL head of research for Singapore and South-east Asia, said that based on recent transactions in the vicinity, landed home prices are on average about $1,350 to $1,550 psf while Amber Towers was transacted en bloc at $1,118 psf in 2011.

"It would appear that the compensation for these owners is fair, at least on a land-value perspective," he said.

A Singapore Land Authority (SLA) spokesman said that under the Land Acquisition Act, owners dissatisfied with the compensation awarded can file their appeals with the Appeals Board (Land Acquisition).

She said: "In the case of the six semi-Ds and the walk-up apartments, some owners have accepted the awards and some have filed appeals."

Financial compensation is not the only issue the property owners face. Mr Cheng said: "We have to move out by next February. It's not easy to find another place in such a short time, especially in this area. I've lived here for over 50 years."

The house owner who did not want to be named added: "The money is one thing. There are other factors to consider - like how is it possible to find a landed property and rebuild it in such a short time. It's impossible.

"What is the point of having a freehold property when you have to move whenever a new MRT line comes along?"

Meanwhile, the SLA said it is "in the process of settling" with owners of about half a dozen other affected properites, including the Laguna National Golf and Country Club, which stands to lose more than 190,000 sq ft of land. The club's executive director Kevin Kwee said he does not expect negotiations to take much longer.

Dr Chua of JLL said the club is unlikely to receive similar compensation on a psf basis as the Amber Road home owners because residential units usually command higher values.

"Except for the few residential units along Meyer, Marine Parade and Tanjong Rhu, the rest are either institutional or industrial," he said.


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