By now it is quite clear Bukit Brown is not just about making way for a new expressway, the plot of land is too lucrative an opportunity for real estate gains to miss. Could Rochor Centre, slated to be bulldozed for the North-South Expressway, be the latest sacrifice for another property development goldmine?
Residents like retiree Wong, 72, who has stayed there since 1978, will miss seeing the National Day fireworks from his 17th floor flat. Others lament the loss of convenience of the nearby supermarket, banks, eating houses and 3 communal facilities - kindergarten, community centre and a home for the aged. It remains to be seen if the advantages of the site will be enjoyed by the new occupiers of fancy high rise condominiums which foreigners are permitted to purchase.
The route for the new expressway is close to 4 MRT stations, namely Caldecott, Novena, Little India and Bugis. If accessibility is available by rail, why build roads to service the same locations? The LTA has made plain their intent cut the number of cars on the road, yet they embark on the exercise to shave driving time from the north to the city by 5 minutes. With COEs currently in the stratospheric region, only the filthy rich will benefit from the time saver. Anyway, what's 5 minutes caught in traffic for a guy whose other car is a Lamborghini?
On paper, relocation benefits are generous. A resident living in a 3-room 67 sq m HDB flat will be compensated $434,400 to $485,300 for their apartment. We are told a 3-room 67 sq m new flat in Kallang is estimated at $348,000 to $401,000.
Officially the average size of HDB flats has shrunk by 5 to 10 per cent over the last 20 to 30 years, the reality is far worse. Surely a 3-room Rochor flat built in the 1978 era can't have the same 67 m floor area as a new 3-room flat in Kallang. Recently HDB chief executive Cheong Koon Hean received lots of flak for asserting that "Smaller flats doesn't mean lower quality of living", her line of defence for "Hey honey, I shrunk the flat." Looks like somebody at LTA is about to be lambasted for another con job foisted on the people.