Eye on Novena: The estate with everything

To mark our revamp, we’ve decided to bring our readers home and shine the spotlight on our own neighbourhood, Novena.

by Cheryl Marie Tay

Let’s play a word association game. When I mention “Singapore”, which words come to mind? Just off the top of my head: shopping, dining, luxury, diversity, modern infrastructure,coffee shops, hawker centres, local food, tourism, financial hub, expensive homes.

These are the traits that have long been attracting people to this country, and which have developed our appreciation for local culture. As such, Novena’s appeal is easy to understand: it combines the aforementioned elements synonymous with Singapore, minus the crowded chaos of her neighbour, Orchard. And while the latter remains one of the foremost locations here for many tourists and locals alike, Novena has its fair share of supporters as well.

Same but different

Like Orchard, Novena has no shortage of private residential developments, hotels, eateries, expats, or shopping malls. Unlike Orchard, however, it is never as busy or crowded. Simply put, it is like a reticent neighbour who never throws parties, but is at the same time welcoming to one and all. Food, shopping, entertainment and housing are all available here amid relative peace and quiet. For anyone who’s never been a fan of crowds, especially the weekend edition, Novena is a great place to visit and even live. Even the Revenue House is in the estate, alongside a Singapore post office, maximizing one’s convenience.

Accommodation aplenty

The one characteristically Singaporean feature Novena lacks is public housing. From the old (Birmingham Mansions, Lion Towers, Thomson Euro-Asia) to the new (Novellis, Strata, Lincoln Suites), private homes are a dime a dozen here, and often fetch premium prices because of their prime location.

At the same time, Novena’s variety of hotels, such as Oasia Hotel, Hotel Royal, Days Hotel, Ramada Inn, ibis, Value Hotel and Quality Hotel make the area a convenient place for tourists and travellers, regardless of their budget.

Retail and refuel

The estate also has several malls, such as United Square, Velocity@Novena, and Square 2, as well as the nearby Shaw Plaza, where one can get his movie fix without having to contend with the human traffic typically present in the Orchard area.Velocity@Novena has a range of sports stores, while United Square is a child- and family-friendly mall, with plenty of clothing and book stores catering to children.

And as with any estate in Singapore worth visiting, Novena boasts an abundance of dining options, from hawker food and fast food to cafés and restaurants. The famous Newton Food Centre is but one MRT station (or a short bus ride) away, and a smorgasbord of cuisines from many different cultures can be found throughout the area.

Great Expat-ations

Novena is home to many expatriates from around the world, though its Korean community (made up of mostly South Korean expats) is one of its more sizeable groups. It’s little wonder, then, that there are many Korean eateries to be found in the estate. A good number of international schools are also conveniently located around the Novena, Newton and Thomson areas, including Chatsworth International School, United World College, Hollandse School, the German European School Singapore, Overseas Family College, Avondale Grammar School, and the Singapore Korean International School.

Furthermore, transport within and around Novena makes getting to the aforementioned amenities a breeze: the Newton and Novena MRT stations are nearby, as well as the CTE and PIE. At the same time, there are plenty of buses that make the area accessible from not just the city, but also as far as PasirRis and Tampines.

Healing factor

One thing that sets Novena apart from most other estates in Singapore is its wealth of healthcare amenities. Novena Medical Center, Novena Specialist Center, Mount Elizabeth Novena, RenCi Hospital and Tan TockSeng Hospital are all located within walking distance of one another. With the URA’s Health City Novena Masterplan, Novena’s status as a medical hub will be further developed

Wong Xian Yang, Senior Manager of Research and Consultancy at OrangeTee, says: “Novena will be a hot spot for medical travellers and professionals working in the vicinity. Singapore prides itself as an internationally renowned medical hub, and is one of the top choices for medical tourism in the world.  Novena is definitely an exciting part of Singapore to watch out for as it slowly acquires a distinctive identity with the integration of a medical, hospitality, commercial and residential landscape all in one district.”

New in Novena

As part of the Health City Masterplan, Royal Square @ Novena is an upcoming 99-year-leasehold mixed development on Thomson Road and Irrawaddy Road that will feature a variety of F&B and retail options, as well as a focus on healthcare. Its 171 medical suites will include day surgery, an imaging centre and a laboratory.

Residentially rosy

Property-wise, the rental market in Novena has so far been healthy. Rental data in in Novena(from January to May 2015) saw private non-landed properties ranging between the 900 to 1,200 sqft in size enjoy good rental demand.

Wong added: “From the private non-landed sales data in Novena for 1H15, it seems like the sweet spot is between 1,000 and 1,100 sqft, looking at the distribution of transactions between the various sizes in 1H15. Combining both sets of data, buyers who are looking for properties with stable rents and that are also relatively easier to sell in Novena may consider (homes of) sizes ranging 900 to 1,100 sq ft.”

On the up

So what’s in store for Novena? Over the next 15 years, the area around the Novena MRT stationwill be continually changing and upgrading, thanks largely to the URA’s Health CityMasterplan. In 2030, the Health City will encompass training schools and new medical facilities which should translate into an increase in potential demand for rental units.

Wong says: “In the long term, the scarcity of the impending supply of residential projects, combined with the anticipated development of Health City, suggests a foreseeable increase in demand for residential properties in the area.”