LOL I'm not surprised more will be added to the list.
What's the first project using @? Sail?
What's in a condo name? More than you can imagine
Fiona Chan, Property Reporter
Mon, Aug 27, 2007
The Straits Times
IF PROPERTY developer Lippo Group had its way, the condominium it is building in Kim Seng Road would be called Trinity rather than Trillium.
But the group's original application for 'Trinity Towers' was deemed too 'religious' by the authorities, revealed Lippo's executive director Thio Gim Hock.
'It was rejected because it had religious connotations. They even said not to bother to appeal,' he said. The three-tower project was renamed Trillium, after the name of a three-petal flower.
Now, as Lippo and other developers gear up to launch a slew of new condos, they are cracking their heads over what to name them. It may seem like a small problem, but unexpected rejections such as the one Lippo received can make the task surprisingly knotty.
Indeed, the name game is so important that Mr Simon Cheong, head of luxury developer SC Global, personally names each of his projects - from the iconic The Boulevard Residence to the latest Marq on Paterson Hill.
Larger developers, such as Frasers Centrepoint and City Developments (CDL), pick names from proposals that sometimes number in the hundreds.
At CDL, the final say for condo names lies with executive chairman Kwek Leng Beng. But suggestions are pooled from all sources, including an occasional staff competition. Even Mrs Kwek reportedly put in her two cents' worth for CDL's latest project, Cliveden at Grange.
The main reason naming a condo is not as easy as just calling it The ABC lies in a surprisingly strict set of rules for building and estate names, outlined by the Street and Building Names Board (SBNB).
For instance, condo names, according to a fairly recent rule change by SBNB, must not end with 'park' - in case the project is mistaken for an actual park.
But more than 100 condos already have that word in their names, including older estates Bedok Park and Clementi Park. To get around the rule, developers have recently taken to using the French word 'parc' instead and putting it in front of the name, such as in Parc Emily.
SBNB also advises against using 'place' and 'link' because the terms are also used for road names. 'Tower' can be used only for buildings of at least 30 storeys, and 'villa' only for landed houses. And 'city' - such as in the 910-unit City Square Residences or the 600-unit Citylights - is applicable only for developments 'on a grand scale', says SBNB.
With more and more words struck out over the years, it is no wonder many developers now find it easier to come up with a whole new one.
This has led to the latest rage in condo-naming: coined words, such as in The Lumos in Leonie Hill and The Marq.
'It's partly because developers are running out of names, and partly because of the new guidelines on naming projects,' said Ms Diana Kuik, executive director of Sim Lian Land. 'It is now a very 'in' thing to do as it gives the project a modern feel.'
Sim Lian's Viz at Holland is a good example. 'The condo is near Holland Village, and there's a lot of buzz and activity in the area,' said Ms Kuik.
'So we combined 'village' and 'buzz' to get 'Viz'. It's short, easy to remember, and hip-sounding.'
But newly coined names are only one of the current trends in a market where condo names appear to come and go in waves of fashion.
In fact, Ms Kuik said it is often possible to distinguish a condo's age from its name.
'If you look at a name, you can tell which era the development was built in,' she noted. 'Anything with 'garden' or 'view' is likely to be in the 1980s. If it's 'vale', probably the 1990s, and if it starts with 'The', it's after 2000.'
Other current naming fads include the almost ubiquitous '@' sign - officially known as the 'commercial at' and unofficially used in every attempt to be trendy. At least 30 condos in Singapore boast this symbol. Almost all are new projects that surfaced after the dot.com boom.
Property watchers have also observed that the recent boom in high-end condos has led to a proliferation of names using 'residences'. Indeed, about half the 50-odd condos in this category - including Marina Bay Residences and The Orchard Residences - are located downtown or in the prime districts of 9 to 11.
A more longstanding trend is foreign words. These have long been de rigueur among developers, who seem to think they add a certain je ne sais quoi (meaning 'an indescribable attribute') to a moniker.
For instance, there are 34 condos here with names that start with 'Casa', the Spanish word for 'house'. Another 21 begin with 'Le' or 'La', the French words for 'the'.
Some projects are named after actual foreign locations, such as Cote d'Azur in Marine Parade, which sits uncomfortably on the tongues of most Singaporeans.
But while foreign names might sound more chi-chi, they are also more chancy.
One developer related the story of how SBNB once rejected a French name for a condo because the word sounded like 'danger' in English.
'We wanted to name the condo 'Perle', which means 'Pearl' in French,' the developer said. 'But the board said it sounded too much like 'peril', so we had to change it.'
Interestingly, while SBNB is sticky on grammatical accuracy in the use of 'Le' and 'La' - they refer to male and female nouns respectively in French - it appears unconcerned about condo names that begin with 'De' or 'D'.
'De' is a French proposition that usually means 'of' or 'for'. It is used as 'D' only if followed by a word starting with a vowel.
But Singapore's condos include such grammatical eyesores as D'Dalvey and D'Hillside Loft. The Straits Times understands that these are considered to be coined words, rather than foreign derivatives, and thus allowable.
As developers try to stay on SBNB's good side, straightforward combinations of road names and numbers are also getting popular. The latest trend is names beginning with 'One', such as One Shenton, which 14 condos have adopted.
But this does not mean developers have no room for creativity, as shown by the unusual 2 rvg and 66 OGR, which stand for River Valley Grove and Orange Grove Road, respectively.
Even if a name does not meet with contention by SBNB, other unexpected circumstances may force it to be changed at the last minute.
Industry insiders, for instance, know that Pharos on the Waterfront was the original name for the CDL condo near the Singapore River that is now called Tribeca. But what they might not know is that the name was changed mere weeks before the condo's launch because CDL discovered that Pharos referred to a lighthouse that had been destroyed by an earthquake.
'We didn't want anyone to make the association,' said CDL general manager Chia Ngiang Hong with a laugh.
At the end of the day, however, a project's name is probably one of the lowest factors on a buyer's list of priorities, said Mr Ku Swee Yong, director of marketing and business development at Savills Singapore. 'The product quality and returns potential are the top things people look at. In the final evaluation, buyers almost never consider names.'