Perched on elevated ground, yet with easy access to the Singapore River, the River Valley area attracted affluent Europeans and Chinese merchants in the 1830s who lined the riverside with opulent estates and mansions. Today, the centrally located neighborhood falls under postal district 09, one of Singapore’s prime residential areas, making it the top choice for well-heeled expats and locals.
The landscape has certainly changed from the period when the East India Company owned land here and the residential roll-call read like a who’s who of wealthy merchants. Mansions have given way to skyscrapers and the warehouse-like godowns (storehouses) lining the river have been converted into fashionable restaurants, clubs and boutiques; but this enclave remains a draw for trend-seekers as it has from the start.
The River Valley neighborhood is marked on the north by Grange Road, to the south by Havelock Road, to the west by Zion Road, and to the East by Hill Street.
“Condos and apartments in the area vary widely in age, size and quality. Typically, a fairly new (5-year-old) two-bedroom apartment or condo in that area would cost upwards of S$1.2 million (US$875,000),” said Kah Poh Tay, executive director and head of residential services at Knight Frank Singapore.
Samuel Eyo, managing director of Singapore Christie’s International Real Estate offered further details on costs for one- to four-bedroom apartments.
Mr. Eyo said that prospective buyers can expect a one-bedroom to be on the market for S$750,000 to S$1,500,000 (US$545,000 to US$1.1 million); two-bedrooms listed for S$1,000,000 to S$2,000,000 (US$725,000 to US$1.45 million); three-bedrooms in the range of S$1,500,000 to S$2,500,000 (US$1.1 million to US$1.8 million); and four-bedrooms S$3,000,000 to S$8,000,000 (US$2.2 million to US$5.8 million).
Rentals, meanwhile, range from S$2,500 (US$1,827) to S$12,500 (US$9,136), depending on size, number of bedrooms and location, according to Mr. Eyo.
Single-family homes are rare in this neighborhood, known for skyward reaching apartment and condominium towers, many with pools, fitness centers and cafes. Expect apartment buildings with sleek, modern designs from award-winning architectural firms, including the Singapore-founded SCDA Architects, international firm SPARK, and Australian-based Kerry Hill Architects, who designed the 88-unit luxury tower Martin No. 38.
“The neighborhood is comprised of medium-to-high-rise apartments and condos with 10 to 40 stories,” Mr. Tay said. “These are highly popular with expatriates renting them on short-term leases, and therefore appealing to investors seeking rental yield. Most of them are contemporary in look and feel—some of them would not be out of place in Manhattan.”
What makes it unique
“There is a mixture of factors including close proximity to Orchard Road, the main retail and hotel belt in Singapore, the Central Business District, and a host of lifestyle options, particularly along the banks of the Singapore River—eateries, bars, cultural performance areas and clubs,” Mr. Tay said.
“There are also heritage elements from the early days of Singapore as a trading port and the Valley River’s importance to commerce,” he said. “For example, there are a number of steel bridges built in the 19th century that span the north and south banks, such as the Elgin Bridge, Cavenagh Bridge and Read Bridge, names which harken back to the country’s British colonial past.”
There is no shortage of excellent dining options in River Valley. Mr. Eyo recommended the trendy P.S. Café, renowned Japanese ramen spot IPPUDO, casual and charming Cibo Italiano and the French brasserie Bistro du Vin.
Proximity to the riverfront and its scenic promenade is the neighborhood’s main attraction, and creative developments maximize this location.Take, for example, the Robertson Quay Project, comprised of the five-star InterContinental hotel, and boutiques and global restaurants including ABC Bakery, Decker Barbeque, Super Loco, and Curry Culture.
Robertson Quay is a development with shopping malls and several hotels, including the Gallery Hotel Singapore, Park Hotel Clarke Quay, Robertson Quay Hotel and Park Regis Singapore. Those in search of clubs and a nightlife scene head to the Clark Quay development for a night out at the cabaret-style club Shanghai Dolly or Crazy Elephant, and Cuba Libre for live music.
One of Asia’s leading theater companies, the Singapore Repertory Theater and the cutting-edge contemporary Singapore Tyler Print Institute creative workshop and gallery offer artistic diversions.
The Overseas Family School (kindergarten through 12th grade) and the Singapore International School (pre-kindergarten through 12th grade) are located in River Valley, and it’s an easy commute to other area schools. The top private hospitals and medical centers, such as Mount Elizabeth, Gleneagles and Camden Medical Centre, are also conveniently located in the River Valley area.
Who lives there
The area’s residents are “mainly foreigners who are both tenants and owner occupiers,” Mr. Tay said. “The area is especially popular with wealthy Indonesians who value the proximity to the Orchard shopping belt. From the local Singaporean perspective, the area fits the lifestyle preferences of younger, upper-middle- and high-income households. Proximity to top private hospitals and medical centers draw doctors and specialists to live here.”
River Valley is not a celebrity-studded enclave nor one that attracts attention-seeking residents. However, Mr. Tay noted that River Valley’s most well-known resident was Singapore’s former prime minister, the late Lee Kuan Yew, who lived on Oxley Road, just off River Valley Road. Yew reportedly lived there until his death in 2015.
“The housing market in Singapore as a whole has been soft for the past four years due to a series of cooling measures introduced by the Singapore government to curb the liquidity flowing into the market,” Mr. Tay said. “But there are some signs of a recovery, at least in terms of sales volume. Land bids, in particular, have been aggressive, and buying interest in both the primary and secondary markets have been quite robust. Specifically for River Valley, there are a few upcoming project launches which could set some new benchmarks for 99-year leasehold projects,” he continued.
Mr. Eyo agreed that new projects could contribute to an uptick and added, “The market is moderate at the moment, as there has been no new project launch since 2010. However, we are now waiting for a new project launch, Martin Modern, to see if the new price range of S$1.8 million (US$1.3 million) for two-bedrooms to S$5 million (US$3.6 million) for four-bedrooms, is acceptable. Note that this is the only leasehold 99-years project surrounded by freehold projects.”
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