On Human Capital. And East End vs Geylang

http://www.mikemilken.com/quotes.taf?mode=print

“There are only three ways for a country to build human capital: Increase knowledge and skills, improve the quality and length of life so people are more productive, or import people with specific abilities. Some countries have done this better than others. Consider the two former British colonies of Jamaica and Singapore. Back when I was in school in 1960, their economies were similar with a gross domestic product of about $2,200 per person (in current dollars). But they chose different paths to development. Jamaica centered its economy on agriculture and tourism and today has a per-capita GDP of about $5,500. Singapore, which developed its human and social capital and created a knowledge infrastructure, is a modern technology powerhouse with a GDP of more than $39,000 per person.”

Ha. Sounds like a marketing deck from the Ministry of Manpower and the WDA. But still, it’s a useful quote for the person in the relevant field, especially with government accounts. Should send it to my sister in Mercer. Heh.

Our government has certainly applied the above recommendations very well, especially the last item over the last ten years, “import people with specific abilities“. Onwards then to Population X or 6.9 mio. I am long future waterfront housing along the Keppel-Tanjong Pagar dockyards. Forget about the clinically pristine Marina Bay Financial District built on reclaimed land. We need to have our own Canary Wharf rejuvenation. Towards 2029, when they finally move the dockyards and port terminals out of the city proper, just in time for the next property up cycle. Bleah. Boring.

Conversely, apart from the typical ‘highly-skilled foreign talent’ and imports of white-collar expats sustaining demand at the high end in the city centre, there may be even greater opportunity at the other end of the value chain. Don’t forget for every expat executive imported working in finance or professional services/knowledge-based industries, comes 3 or 4 others – middling PMETs and below, service staff in retail and F&B, bus and cab drivers, general workers. These are predominantly sourced from the Philippines, India, and not in the least, China. And where does this new horde of fresh immigrant hoi polloi end up after arriving in Spore? More often than not, the slightly unsavoury, yet also very colourful, vibrant and gay (as in the old Gay World or Happy World amusement park, cabaret and restaurant complex in the 1950’s-70’s) historical area of Geylang!

Geylang is truly the new and real Chinatown of Singapore. The crowds and buzz there (albeit different in sight and smells…) rival that of Orchard Rd. If London has its East End, Singapore has Geylang. Where else in Spore can you find freehold property just at the edge of the city fringe still costing less than $1000psf ? And the choices and variety will whet any appetite, from typical modern residential apartment estates, to shoebox units suitable for serviced management, to old but gorgeous shophouses just waiting to be restored and gentrified into live/work/play/entertainment spaces. I can’t wait to get my hands on a row of dilapidated century-old shophouses and develop them into magnificent showcases of living and working lofts, boutique hotels, art studios and galleries, maybe even a restaurant or bar at the first floor… What? It’s been done already?! D’OH!

http://www.thelor24ashophouseseries.com/

thelorong24ashophouseseries

thelorong24ashophouseseries

facade

facade

caged_spiral_ascent_gallery

caged_spiral_ascent_gallery

scourged_metal_green_terrace

scourged_metal_green_terrace

a_river_runs_thru_lines

a_river_runs_thru_lines

red_dragon_crazy_lines_galore

red_dragon_red_and_more_red_coworking_space

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This other developer bought an entire street of shophouses at the outer edge of Geylang almost 10 years ago and redeveloped them into serviced apartments with some pretty nifty shared facilities. I guess they did well enough to go ahead and buy the next entire row of shophouses facing the same street about 3 years back. This time, they really went for it and gutted the houses bare save for the facade, and rebuilt them totally, adding several more floors with glassed curtain-wall and a rooftop terrace, which actually fits pretty well into the whole design scheme. Basically, they own the whole street now. Talk about building Monopoly-style: Old Kent Road down, Whitechapel next! I always preferred building a bunch of hotels on Old Kent or Euston than a single house on Mayfair anyway. Harrumph.

http://www.redwoodwest.com.sg/
http://www.redwoodwest.com.sg/redwood_central_location.html

redwood_residences_shophouses_restored_raised_glassed_and_terraced

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This new spot is good for quaffing down an ice cold beer on a sultry Singapore night. No warm lagers or pasty wankers here please. And they even widened and beautified the Geylang river running next to it. Nice.

http://www.thetuckshop.com.sg/

the-tuckshop

wanker_special

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