Dalvey Estate GCB area bungalow case: Former president Ong Teng Cheong’s elder son sues sister-in-law

Updated: 5 min read

13 October 2022 update: It is understood that the legal case between Ong Tze Guan and his former sister-in-law has been resolved out of court. However, there is yet no confirmation if the resolution includes putting the bungalow up for sale in the open market (for the proceeds to be shared equally) or for her to buy Ong’s share of the house.

The 56-year-old elder son of ex-president Ong Teng Cheong, Mr Ong Tze Guan, has been reported to be taking his former sister-in-law, Madam Wang Yi Yi, to court over an award-winning Art Deco bungalow in Dalvey Estate GCB Area near Botanic Gardens.

This comes about a year after he settled a dispute with her former husband, Mr Ong Tze Boon, who is his 53-year-old younger brother, over shareholdings in the company that controls the architecture business founded by their parents.

Google Maps photo
The bungalow has living and dining rooms on each side of the structure, a car porch and an entrance foyer on the first floor. There’s even an outhouse for servants’ quarters and a guest room. (Image credit: Google Maps)

For this particular case, the two-storey bungalow used to be the private residence of the late Mr Ong Teng Cheong. The former president passed away in 2002 at the age of 66, while his late wife, Madam Ling Siew May, passed away in 1999.

The property now lists Mr Ong Tze Guan and Madam Wang as tenants in common with equal shares each.

According to The Straits Times, the court order is to get Wang to buy over Ong’s share of the bungalow based on the current market valuation, or to sell the property in the open market and have the sales proceeds divided equally between them.

If the property is sold in the open market, the proceeds are to be applied to fees, stamp duties and related expenses to the sale. There is no indication for whom Wang is holding the share of the property in trust.

The bungalow was originally designed by Frank Wilmin Brewer (1886-1971), a British architect who was the first university-trained architect to practice in Singapore. After his arrival in Singapore in 1920, he introduced a late Arts and Craft Movement style to the Singapore house.

It was during this period when he built the Dalvey Estate house in 1927. Brewer was also behind the Art Deco styles in the Singapore Swimming Club’s clubhouse (1936) and the original Cathay Cinema (1939).

cathay building and cinema
Frank Brewer is also the architect behind the 1939 Cathay Building at Handy Road. At that time, it was most known for its air-conditioned theatre (Cathay Cinema) and for being the ‘first’ skyscraper in Singapore. At 83.5m, it was also the ‘tallest building’ in Southeast Asia then. (Image credit: Cathay Organisation Holdings)

The Dalvey Estate bungalow is one of 14 conserved buildings in the Nassim Road and White House Park Conservation Area. In the mid-1990s, it was restored and extended by ex-President Ong’s architectural practice.

Not only that, the bungalow was also one of the winners of the URA’s 2001 Architectural Heritage Awards, together with a 2-storey Victorian-styled bungalow at Nassim Road and a 3-storey terrace house at Emerald Hill.

URA Architectural Heritage Awards speech excerpt
Speech excerpt from Dr John Chen, former Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology and Minister of National Development, at the 2001 URA Architectural Heritage Awards presentation. (Source: URA)

A check of landed property transactions in the Nassim neighbourhood shows that average psf prices have risen 68.93% over the past decade to S$2,715.

When we plotted just transactions within the Dalvey Estate GCB area (for landed properties bounded by Evans Road, Dalvey Road, White House Park/White House Road, Stevens Road and Bukit Timah Road – including the late president’s residence), the average price psf appreciation is even higher at 75.65%, or S$2,761 psf today.

Nassim neighbourhood and Dalvey Estate

Last year alone, two Dalvey Estate land parcels near the former president’s home were sold. The most recent one – a 20,048-sqft property just several land plots away – was sold for S$50m or S$2,494 psf in May 2021.

Before that, in April 2021, a neighbouring 17,042-sqft property was sold for S$28m, or S$1,643 psf.

Have you ever visited any homes in the Dalvey Estate GCB Area? Let us know in the comments section below.

If you found this article helpful, check out our Condos and apartments on the fringes of Good Class Bungalow (GCB) Areas (UPDATED) and Good Class Bungalow (GCB) house-hunting: Confessions from agents.

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