For two homeowners in Geylang, money couldn’t trump happiness and sentimentality – not even a million dollars.
After refusing to sell to developers for a decade, the owners of two terrace properties are becoming intimately familiar with their condo developments anyway, now that they are fully engulfing them.
“I still am able to do my gardening and I won’t sell no matter how much the other party offers,” said a 60-year-old homeowner, a hawker identified only as Goh.
Since Goh and the other owner a minute’s walk away at 337 Guillemard Road would not sell, developers Tiara Realty and Macly Group went ahead with erecting two condo buildings – La Brisa and Noma, respectively – around them.
Goh’s home is now a sliver of land pinned between two multi-story developments, while the other home, which has been turned into a prayer hall, will be surrounded by one yet completed.
La Brisa has been finished since 2012 at Lorong 28 Geylang, while Noma is slated to finish in 2023 next to Guillemard Road.
Goh said he would never sell his home – where he’s lived with his sister since the death of their mother, the original owner – since it is now a rarity in a country where the majority of residential properties have a limited life span.
“Right now, it’s impossible to find a house like this. Other properties have a 99-year tenure, but this is freehold and it belongs to us,” he said.
In Singapore, all public housing apartments must be given up after their 99-year leases expire.
“I’ve turned the open area at the front of the house into a garden. Besides gardening, I also keep angelfish and birds and I get to watch the city wake up while sitting in my garden in the mornings,” the hawker added.
Five of his former neighbors reportedly took S$20.55 million (about US$15 million) to make way for the Noma project. Goh said he was approached in 2017 by its developer, the Macly Group, but he declined to sell.
Since 2008, at least, Google Street View shows both terrace houses being gradually dwarfed by the eight-story La Brisa. Images in recent years show Goh’s garden shrink year by year.
The caretaker of the Buddhist prayer hall said he is unsure why the owner refused to sell the property. It’s not an officially registered place of worship and only welcomes friends and relatives of the owner.
Other stories you should check out: