BALESTIER’S unsavoury reputation as a red-light district seems a thing of the past.
Investors are now closing in on the area thanks to rejuvenation efforts and the nearby fast-growing Novena medical hub.
A spate of new projects has enlivened the area, while new amenities have been injected with the completion of the integrated hotel-park complex comprising Zhongshan Mall, Zhongshan Park, and the Days and Ramada hotels.
Hotels and home fixture shops might dot its streets, but the area still retains its charm with the preservation of art deco shophouses dating back to the 1930s.
But consultants said Balestier’s location on the city’s fringe is the main draw for investors, as expatriates on tight budgets are being forced out of the city centre.
“Within close proximity of city areas such as Newton and Novena, Balestier provides a compelling sought-after alternative to potential homebuyers with its city-fringe location,” said Knight Frank research head Alice Tan.
The latest project there is the 48-unit Viio @ Balestier, developed by Techkon Commercial.
Three 926 sq ft two-bedroom units, which come with a study, have been sold at the mixed development since its launch about two weeks ago, at an average price of $1,600 per sq ft (psf). Its 30 retail units are not on sale yet.
At the freehold Ascent @ 456, 12 of the 28 units have been sold for an average of $1,477 psf as at last month, according to official data. Cosmo Loft, also a freehold project, has moved five of its 56 units for an average of $1,775 psf.
Prices of new condos in Balestier have enjoyed steady gains over the past two years, experts noted. Average prices have increased about 9.8 per cent from $1,378 psf in 2012 to $1,513 psf last year. In the first six months of the year, it rose by 2.7 per cent to $1,554 psf.
However, resale prices have eased from $1,362 psf last year to $1,256 psf in the first half of 2014.
Mr Ong Kah Seng, director at R’ST Research, said the slide was in line with the downbeat property market, as home owners prefer holding out for a better offer.
At the 104-unit Domus in Irrawaddy Road, prices have averaged $820 psf in the past year, while average monthly rents have been about $5.10 psf.
Balestier rentals have eased 4 per cent on average over the past year, as more landlords face competition from completed condos in the suburbs, said Mr Ong.
However, he predicted that owners who hold on to their units for at least seven more years should still be able to expect about 10 per cent in capital appreciation.