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In advance of summit, Singapore City condo on North Korea's border booms

Dandong, China

EVEN as the island nation of Singapore rushes to get ready for the historic meeting of US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, one of its namesakes is basking in the publicity too - on China's border with North Korea.

The Singapore City condominium in Dandong, the main gateway into North Korea in northeastern China, is celebrating its strongest sales in six years, thanks to property speculators who see the June 12 meeting as another sign that the reclusive state will soon be open for business.

With a riverside view that looks directly over North Korea, the 2,400-unit project by Singaporean developer Brothers (Holdings) Ltd broke ground in 2008 but saw annual sales of less than a hundred units in the last five years as China's neighbour grew more focused on its nuclear programme.

That changed in one stroke in end- April when North Korea's Mr Kim announced that the isolated country would immediately suspend nuclear and missile tests, scrap its nuclear test site and pursue economic growth and peace, said TC Koh, group managing director of the company. Singapore City then sold 587 units in May, more than quadruple the number in April, making it the top-selling development in the area, he said.

That drove the price from an average of about 4,000 yuan (S$834) per square metre in 2015 to close to 6,000 yuan per square metre. "Suddenly everybody came in. From that time onwards we started selling 30-40 units a day," he said at the project's showroom, decorated with water-spouting statues of Singapore's unofficial mascot, the Merlion.

Mr Trump sent the city-state spinning when he announced that the summit would be held there last month, only to cancel it a week later. On June 1, he said the summit was back on, prompting urgent preparations and a wave of promotions from businesses looking to cash in.

Mr Koh said he did not think the Singapore's host status was driving buyers to its namesake project, saying it was ultimately the development's location in Dandong where the broader property market has heated up. Still, he said he was contemplating launching activities to commemorate the event at the showroom, though he was a little cautious, citing the uncertain nature of the meeting and the countries' leaders.

"It's still a wait-and-see, because you don't know if it'll be a success or failure," he said. "If it's a failure then we'll have a problem. All the investors will run away!" REUTERS

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