The blockbuster $638 million sale of Shunfu Ville sealed in May this year is facing some hurdles.
Five unit owners have objected to the collective sale of the estate in Bishan.
Also, developer Qingjian Realty (South Pacific) Group, which had hoped to build a project of 30 to 36 storeys, has been told by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to stick to a 21- to 23-storey limit.
The Straits Times understands two mediation sessions with the five objecting owners ended last month and the Strata Titles Boards issued a stop order to the collective-sale committee.
The committee applied to the High Court to seek approval for the sale last week.
More than 82 per cent of the owners agreed to sell the 358-unit privatised Housing and Urban Development Company (HUDC) estate to Qingjian Realty - in line with legal requirements.
But the sale now needs the approval of the High Court.
Owners can object on grounds such as financial loss even after the sale committee gets the requisite percentage of owners' approval.
Each flat owner stands to pocket an average of $1.782 million if the sale goes ahead, after they agreed to lower the reserve price from $688 million to $638 million.
Madam Teresa Koh, a 68-year- old retiree who owns a Shunfu Ville flat, said she received a circular last month about the five objections.
She added that she had been told to hold off the buying of a new flat.
Flat owners said they were told that they will have to pay $1,500 each for the High Court legal fees.
The deal is Qingjian Realty's first collective purchase in Singapore since it began developing projects here eight years ago. But the setback has not dampened general manager Li Jun's optimism.
He told The Straits Times in Mandarin that this was part of the process of developing projects and lawyers had warned him about such issues in buying collective-sale sites.
He emphasised that the firm had not submitted any design plans, contrary to an earlier news report saying its design had been rejected by the URA.
The firm had submitted an outline application - a broad proposal that allows the developer to propose land use, plot ratio, building form and building height - he said.
"We had hoped to be able to build between 30 and 36 storeys," he said, but added that the firm had anticipated a possible height limit.
He said the prices will depend on market conditions.
"But as a rule of thumb, a flat on the 30th storey sells for higher than a flat on the 20th storey. When we start on the design for the Shunfu Ville plot, we will definitely want to maximise the plot ratio, within the URA guidelines."
He confirmed that Qingjian Realty will comply with the URA's height limit.
The URA confirmed that it had received Qingjian Realty's outline proposal, and that it had asked for the height to be kept between 21 and 23 storeys to ensure "the view from the nearby MacRitchie Reservoir Park is not hemmed in by tall buildings".
"Based on our study, the maximum allowable gross plot ratio of 2.8 for the site can be achieved," it said.
Mr Li said Qingjian Realty can only wait for the High Court's decision at the moment.
Mr Kenneth Szeto, a real estate partner at law firm Colin Ng and Partners, said the High Court application is part of the collective-sale approval procedure.
"It is not uncommon to have objecting minority owners because each development is different and the owners would have bought their units at different times.
"At the moment, it can go either way. The sale application will be allowed if the grounds of objection are not valid. But if it is proven that there's been bad faith in the committee's handling of the matter, if any of the five suffer financial loss, then the courts will have no choice but to turn down the application."
The nature of the five owners' objections is not known
Adapted from: The Straits Times, 12 October 2016