Estate agents estimate 38 Oxley Road property to be worth around S$24 million

Estate agents estimate 38 Oxley Road property to be worth around S$24 million
Mr Lee Kuan Yew had specifically inserted into his will his wish for the Oxley Road house to be demolished upon his death. Photo: Jason Quah
Published: 9:10 PM, June 16, 2017
Updated: 9:15 PM, June 16, 2017

SINGAPORE — The historic property at the heart of a public dispute between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his siblings is estimated to be worth around S$24 million, according to estate agents.

The century-old house at 38 Oxley Road, sitting on an estimated 12,060-square foot plot, had been home to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew since 1945.

He had expressed his wish for the house to be torn down after his death, or when his daughter Dr Lee Wei Ling no longer lives in it. Not only that, he said the zoning regulations should be changed to let all owners on Oxley Road build higher than the current two-story limit to boost the value of the real estate.

The fate of the house is now uncertain, given PM Lee’s open disagreement with Dr Lee and his younger brother Lee Hsien Yang about a so-called demolition clause in their father’s last will.

As things stand, if the bungalow were to be knocked down, the property could only be redeveloped as a modern residential house, or a row of terrace houses, experts suggest.

“You can’t build 20 storeys on it, so that puts a cap on the land value,” said Mr Ku Swee Yong, CEO of International Property Advisor. “Depending on how you design the two-story mixed-landed project the land value could be worth a little bit more, so let’s say S$25 million.”

Ms Christine Li, director of research at Cushman, provided a similar valuation, but added that it could fetch more due to its “special address”.

“For instance, if it is sold through an auction, this address is likely to fetch a much higher value, just like how art does,” she added.

The house on 38 Oxley Road is steeped in historical significance for Singapore.

The late Mr Lee moved into the five-bedroom house, formerly owned by a Jewish merchant, in 1945, as the Japanese Occupation ended and the island returned to British colonial rule.

Over the next decade, the house became a hub of political activity. It was in the basement that the People’s Action Party was conceived.

But as the former Prime Minister acknowledged, the house lacked foundations, suffered from damp, had cracks in the walls and was costly to maintain.

Private home prices in Singapore have risen 15 times compared to 1975, government data shows. The price of bungalows in the central region have doubled in the last ten years, according to real estate services firm Cushman and Wakefield. REUTERS