THE SCALA (Review)

By The Folks @PropTalk - August 3, 2010 No Comments
District: 19
Location: Serangoon Avenue 3
Developer: Hong Leong Holdings
Tenure: 99-year Leasehold
Estimated site area: 149,000sqft
Expected TOP: January 2014
Description: 5 blocks of 17-storey each
Total number of units: 468
Total number of carpark lots: 520 (basement parking)

More than 75% of the units sold on the first day of public launch – that was enough motivation for the wife and me to check out THE SCALA on Sunday to find out what all the hype is about.

The sales gallery is located on the actual site, along Serangoon Ave 3 right next door to Chuan Park. The place was pretty crowded as expected, so much so that even the brochures for the project had run out.
Location Map1

The site that THE SCALA sits on is a rather odd-shaped plot and the blocks are built in a semi-circular manner that wraps around the main entrance/lap pool/clubhouse. And the biggest selling point of this project is the fact that Lorong Chuan MRT Station (part of the Circle Line) is situated right at the doorsteps of THE SCALA. This is linked by a sheltered passage from within the condo all the way to a side-gate where the MRT station entrance is located.
Microsoft PowerPoint - Lor Chuan - Preliminary Information.ppt

THE SCALA offers quite an extensive range of unit types
• 1-Bedroom:    474sqft - 484sqft
• 2-Bedroom:    828sqft - 839sqft
• 2+Study:         876sqft - 972sqft
• 3-Bedroom:    1014sqft - 1120sqft
• 3+Study:         1258sqft
• 4-Bedroom:    1236sqft - 1370sqft
• 2-Bedroom Penthouse:    1489sqft – 1521sqft
• 3-Bedroom Penthouse:    1489sqft – 1764sqft
• 4-Bedroom Penthouse:    2101sqft – 2142sqft

Facility wise, THE SCALA is definitely a “full facility” condo. These are found on both the 1st and 3rd storey (“Roof Garden”) levels. Of special mention are:

Ground Level
• 50m lap pool and 30m swimming pool
• Jacuzzi
• Tennis court
• Half basketball court
• Pizza oven pavilion

3rd Floor “Roof Garden”
• BBQ pavilion
• “Salad” pavilion with Teppanyaki grill
• Jogging Track
(* We realised that the site plan is rather hard on the eyes but this is the best that we can manage at the moment. We will try to get you a better/bigger picture once we get our hands on a copy of the marketing brochure)

There are also a grand total of 520 parking lots, which is quite generous by current new project standards.

There are 3 showflat types on display at the sales gallery
• 474sqft, 1-Bedroom unit
• 850sqft, 2-Bedroom unit
• 1044sqft, 3-Bedroom unit (Type 3a)
3-Brm FP

And since both the 1 and 2-bedders are fully sold, we shall concentrate on the 3-bedroom unit.

As you enter the main door, you arrive at the rectangular-shaped living/dining room. The wife and I found this area too small for our liking, as you probably have little space left after fitting in a sofa and dining table set. The area comes with 60cm x 60cm compressed marble floors and 2.85m ceiling height.
Living (3Brm)

The rectangular balcony is huge compared to the unit size – we reckon this to be at least 100sqft, which is effectively 10% of the total unit area.

The kitchen is a narrow strip of an area with an L-shaped, solid-surfaced kitchen worktop. The developer has thrown in a host of kitchen appliances with the unit - other than the “Electrolux” hood/hob/oven, you also get a fridge as well as separate washer and dryer. One thing we liked about the kitchen design is that the washing machine area comes “boxed up” so that the washer/dryer are hidden from view. The amount of kitchen cabinets provided is also very generous and comes with “anti-slam” drawers too.
Kitchen (3Brm)

There is no much of yard space to speak of – this is a small squarish area that you can hardly do anything with. The home shelter aka maid’s room is rather narrow and will probably fit a customized bed but nothing much else. A small bathroom completes the whole yard setup.
Yard (3Brm)

The common bathroom is quite good size and comes with a nice colour combination of ceramic floor/wall tiles. The bathroom furnishing  (marble vanity top, storage cabinet beneath the wash basin and even storage behind the mirror) are both highly functional and pleasing to the eyes. The shower stall is installed with a marble “feature wall” but with the usual wall-mounted shower. One thing that the wife noticed is that the door to the shower stall will need to be opened inward given the layout of the bathroom. So it may be quite a squeeze getting in and out of the shower stall.
C.Bath (3Brm)

The two common rooms are square-shaped and… you guessed it… small. A “single” bed will take up most of the space within, as illustrated in the photo that we have taken.
C.Room (3Brm)
C.Bedroom (3Brm)

The master bedroom is a tad small as well, so you can forget about having a king-sized bed in here.M.Bedroom (3Brm)

The amount of wardrobe space will probably be enough to house either the wife's or my clothes but definitely not both.
Wardrobe (3Brm)

The master bathroom is quite spacious and just as aesthetically pleasing as the common bathroom. It comes with marble floors/walls but with the same shower stall as the common bathroom. There is no bath tub here but at least the shower stall is fitted with “rain shower” overhead.
M.Bath (3Brm)

What we like:
• The quality of furnishing at THE SCALA is probably one of the best for a mass market project that we have seen over the past few months. The wife and I particularly liked the marble floors and the overall “feel” of the bathrooms in the showflat.

• THE SCALA is also one project that is truly next to a MRT station. Marketing agents at some of the other projects will brag about how close the MRT station is from their developments, but this is one whereby the MRT station is right at your doorstep literally. And you even get a sheltered passage all the way to the station entrance… talk about convenience!

• Location – THE SCALA is situated close to numerous schools and tertiary institutions. The Australian International School and Stamford American International School are also just down the road. This may translates to good rental yield. However, we wonder if expat families (particularly Caucasians) will be comfortable with the small unit sizes available for rent in this project. The wife and I were told that NEX mall, the upcoming mega shopping mall, is just 10 minutes walk or 1-MRT stop away.

• Primary school wise, there is a choice of either St. Gabriel (boys) or Yang Zheng Primary (co-ed) that is within 1-km from THE SCALA.

What we dislike:
• 1120sqft for the biggest 3-bedder and 1370sqft for the largest 4-bedroom unit at THE SCALA… waaaaay too small for our liking.

• The wife and I were told that the living/dining area for the 2-, 3- and 4-bedroom units are around the same size. So you probably will have to do your entertaining in the clubhouse or one of the outdoor pavilions.

• Given the relatively small size of the units at THE SCALA, we find the big balcony (which again comes standard for all 2- to 4-bedrooms) a luxury that the units can ill afford. We will much prefer a small balcony and bigger living/dining room.

• The stretch of Serangoon Road that THE SCALA is located already houses several condominiums – Chuan Park (452 units), The Springbloom (372 units), Chiltern Park (500units) and a couple of other small developments down the road. So buyers one can expect quite a bit of peak-hour traffic along this stretch of road.

• Last but not least, the main expressway connecting THE SCALA to the City is the CTE. And if you have been following our blog, you will know how much of a fan both the wife and I are of this particular expressway.

Price-wise, we were told that all the 1-bedders were picked up after the first day of public launch at prices of $1400 - $1500psf! Here are sample of prices for units that are still available as of Sunday:

• #14-12, 3-Bedroom (1044sqft): $1,217,500 or $1166psf
(* This unit faces the City/Marina Bay area)

• #14-04, 2+Study (904sqft): $1,074,800 or $1189psf
(* This unit faces Serangoon Garden/landed homes in Mei Hwan Heights)

The monthly maintenance for the 2-bedders is about $250 while that for the 3-bedders is about $300.

It was also reported in the papers today Lian Beng Group has been appointed the main contractor for this project. Work is to commence in October and should complete by end 2013. We were told by the marketing agent that after the first 20% down, the next trench of payment (10%) is not expected till 2011.

After visiting THE SCALA, the wife and I can appreciate the reason for such good take-up rate seen at this project. Given the affordable (by current market standards) price quantum amount versus the quality you get with this project, it does seem like a good buy (again, going by current market standards). But the wife and I still have qualms over the small unit sizes and try as we might, cannot come to terms with paying almost $1200psf for a 99-year leasehold project in District 19… even if the MRT is at our doorstep.

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