Singapore’s Orchard Road, which runs through the center of the city, is synonymous with luxury, offering exclusive shopping, dining and living experiences within a compact footprint.
Named for the fruit trees, nutmeg plantations and pepper farms that existed there in the early 1830s, the area’s association with high-end retail dates back to 1958, when entrepreneur Tang Choon Keng opened Tangs department store, an iconic shopping destination that still exists today.
In recent decades, the city has risen around its heritage landmarks, and gleaming condominiums present upscale living and investment opportunities for buyers looking for a home in the heart of the Lion City.
Orchard Road is a 1.6-mile-long thoroughfare that runs from the intersection of Paterson Road and Scotts Road in the northwest to Fort Canning Road and Bencoolen Street in the southeast. To the south and west, the boundary is roughly marked by Orchard Boulevard, Devonshire Road, Exeter Road, Eber Road and Oxley Rise. To the north and west, the border between Orchard and neighboring Newton is not so clearly defined, encompassing the southern ends of Mount Elizabeth, Cairnhill Road and Emerald Road.
In District 9, where Orchard Road is, “there is a wide gap between the new launches and the old resale apartments,” according to Linda Chern, head of project marketing, prime sales and leasing, residential, at Knight Frank Singapore. “A typical resale apartment per square foot will range from about S$1,700 (US$1,246) to a new launch, in fact there is one on the market from a Hong Kong developer, Swire, which is asking for S$6,000 per square foot.”
Sotheby’s International Realty Singapore currently lists a 9,494-square-foot four-bedroom, four-bathroom penthouse unit in the Skyline @ Orchard Boulevard development, built in 2015, with an asking price of S$53 million.
Foreign buyers from the U.S., Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are exempt from paying stamp duty on their first property in Singapore. For other overseas investors, the stamp duty is 20%.
Most of the properties available in the Orchard Road area are found in towering luxury condominiums, offering amenities such as swimming pools, club houses, gyms, tennis courts, children’s playing areas, security and more, often in mixed-use developments above shopping malls.
There are a limited number of landed properties available—with landed properties, the plot of land upon which a detached, semi-detached or non-detached house stands is purchased—but demand for these greatly exceeds supply and there are restrictions on foreign buyers owning land in Singapore.What Makes it Unique
“Orchard Road is where luxury meets lifestyle,” said Sunita Gill, CEO and founder of Singapore Luxury Homes real estate agency. As Singapore’s best known address, it is flocked to by socialites, shoppers and tourists alike, but there is more to the tree-lined street than commerce.
At its southeastern end, the colonnaded facade of the National Museum of Singapore and Fort Canning Park recall the city’s colonial past and its role as a trading port.
In Emerald Hill, brightly-hued Art Deco-era shophouses celebrate the local Peranakan community, descendants of Chinese immigrants who arrived in Singapore in the 17th century, and whose culture embraced Chinese, Malay and Indian influences.At the other end of the architectural spectrum, ION Orchard’s single-shell facade looks firmly to the future, while playing homage to the orchards that gave the street its name. “The main draw is Orchard Road’s situation at the main shopping belt, the subways are just at your doorstep, and it’s a prime central region,” Ms. Chern said.Luxury Amenities
Often described as a “shopping mecca,” Orchard Road residents want for nothing in their vicinity. The many malls, including ION Orchard, the Paragon, Ngee Ann City, Orchard Central and Mandarin Gallery, cater to all tastes, encompassing designer brands such as Burberry, Dior and Gucci with high-street retailers like Zara, H&M and Uniqlo. Bibliophiles will enjoy Kinokuniya, Singapore’s largest bookstore, as well as the more contemporary library@orchard.
For views across the city, head to the 56th floor of ION Orchard, or partake in an urban farming experience on the rooftop at *SCAPE.
Among the best places to eat in the neighborhood are: Salt Grill & Sky Bar, serving modern Australian cuisine; Halcyon & Crane, which celebrates Sichuan spice in contemporary interiors; and PS.Cafe Palais Renaissance for bistro fare beneath soaring ceilings.
Meanwhile, Emerald Hill is home to some of SIngapore’s best-loved bars, including European-style watering hole No. 5 Emerald Hill and Alley Bar, both of which are situated in restored Peranakan shophouses.
For groceries, Jasons operates a delicatessen and several upscale Market Place stores in the area, selling imported and international products. British retailer Marks & Spencer Food also has outlets along Orchard Road. There are a number of private healthcare facilities, including Paragon Medical, Asiamedic Health Screening and Fullerton Health Screening Centre.
In terms of educational institutions, EtonHouse International School Orchard is an all-through establishment, which opened in 2018 with a focus on science, maths, art, research and technology following the IB (International Baccalaureate) or IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) programs and is located 10-minutes by car from Orchard Road. Furen International School, which is also a 10-minute drive away, is a preparatory school designed to prepare students for university.
Who Lives There
Singaporean and expatriate executives have invested in Orchard Road property. “The majority are Singaporeans, but there are foreign buyers that have actually bought remotely,” Ms. Chern said.
“We’ve also got newly minted citizens, or people who have relocated here from Hong Kong, from China, who have become permanent residents or citizens, that have bought property in the area as well,” she said.
The neighborhood is home to a number of celebrities and high net worth individuals, including Brazilian entrepreneur Eduardo Saverin, one of Facebook’s co-founders, who owns a penthouse at The Orchard Residences according to multiple reports. Movie star Jackie Chan is also reported to own a unit at The Orchard Residences.
According to Savills Singapore’s Investment Briefing, published in October, “the real estate investment sales market in Singapore has been in recovery mode since the economy reopened in June,” after a two-month lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Sales volume for Savills in the residential segment amounted to S$1 billion in the third quarter of 2020, representing a 190% increase from the second quarter. “Investment sales activity is expected to pick up in the coming quarters,” said Alan Cheong, executive director of research at Savills Singapore.