ERA Daily Research - 7 September

OK Lim's Second Avenue bungalow on sale by public tender

The Business Times, 6 Sep 2021, Mon 4:48 pm  

By Michelle Zhu

A THREE-STOREY Good Class Bungalow (GCB) belonging to Hin Leong founder Lim Oon Kuin, better known as OK Lim, is for sale along with another GCB at Caldecott Hill Estate, according to a press release issued by marketing agent Knight Frank on Monday.

These properties are for purchase by public tender and by expression of interest (EOI), respectively, with their deadlines being Sept 30 and two weeks from Oct 5.

The GCB at 5 Second Avenue in Bukit Timah sits on 19,984 square feet (sq ft) of land with a gross floor area of about 10,000 sq ft. Knight Frank in its release said the property comes with a well-manicured garden, swimming pool, large car porch and a squash court in the basement.

Mary Sai, Knight Frank Singapore's executive director of capital markets for land & building, collective & strata sales, said that the Bukit Timah GCB had "generated a good level of interest" when it was offered for sale by private treaty last year, as "many homeowners were looking to own one in the coveted District 10".

A valuation is currently being conducted to establish the fair open market value of the property, said Knight Frank, which also noted that several tech chief executives have bought similar assets in recent months with price tags in the range of S$30 million to S$86 million.

The agent further highlighted the S$30 million sale of a GCB at Second Avenue in July this year, which reflects a per-square-foot (psf) price of S$2,045 based on its land area of 14,667 sq ft. Another GCB at Third Avenue nearby sold in the same month to Razer's chief executive Tan Min Liang for S$52.8 million or S$1,706 per psf, it noted.

The Bukit Timah GCB is one of several properties in Singapore under a US$3.5 billion court-ordered asset freeze of the Lim family's assets worldwide.

News of the bungalow's sale by tender comes more than a year after The Business Times (BT) reported that an attempted divestment of the same property had fallen through. EdgeProp had previously disclosed that a caveat of S$27 million was lodged for the bungalow on April 14, 2020, shortly before Hin Leong Trading applied for a debt moratorium.

The other GCB for sale by EOI was described by Knight Frank as a "resort-like two-storey bungalow set in the tranquil surroundings of Caldecott Hill Estate". With a land area of 29,483 sq ft and its close proximity to the Caldecott MRT station, it will attract buyers looking to own the perfect family home, said the marketing agent.

"Interest in this prestigious asset class in Singapore (GCBs) is still going strong with the rebound of economic activities and the easing of restrictive safety measures as our nation reached vaccination rate of 80 per cent," commented Ms Sai.


Marina View: Testing the 'work, live, play' concept within CBD

The Business Times, 7 Sep 2021, Tue 5:50 am

By Leslie Yee

SINGAPORE'S Central Business District (CBD) has transformed over the last decade or so. It expanded with the new business and financial precinct of Marina Bay, which houses Grade A office space at developments such as Marina Bay Financial Centre, Marina One and Asia Square.

Older parts were rejuvenated with the completion of integrated projects offering Grade A office space such as South Beach at Beach Road, and Guoco Tower at Tanjong Pagar.

Office rents, which were falling over the later part of 2019 and through 2020, are rising in the first half of 2021, according to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

Property consultants are generally upbeat about prospects for superior quality Grade A office space in sought-after locations in the CBD.

With a high vaccination rate in Singapore and the country opening up, could the office crowd return to the CBD?

But, even if restrictions on working in the office are relaxed further, digitalisation may enable greater adoption of remote working and reduce demand for office space. Might a future ready CBD be much less office-centric?

Second Minister for National Development Indranee Rajah said in this year's budget debate: "The disconcerting quiet of the CBD during circuit breaker sharpened the importance of planning for more mixed-use in our city centre."

She noted that the CBD Incentive Scheme and the Strategic Development Incentive (SDI) scheme can help facilitate this shift

Since 2019, the government has offered incentives to encourage older office buildings in the CBD to convert into mixed-use developments, with offerings such as hotels, residences, gyms, grocery stores and eateries. The SDI similarly incentivises landlords to come together to redevelop and transform precincts in strategic areas across Singapore.

Minister for National Development Desmond Lee said at the World Cities Summit 2021 that Singapore will need to review its broader approach to land use and city planning in the longer run. He said that with remote working, issues such as how much office space is needed and how work places and homes should be designed have to be relooked.

In July, the URA launched the public engagement for the Long-Term Plan Review (LTPR) exercise. The LTPR is carried out once every 10 years to review the government's plans for long-term land use over the next 50 years and beyond.

Might the LTPR exercise help shape a future Singapore with proportionately more homes and less offices? Over time, could there be relatively more homes and less commercial spaces in the CBD, and the reverse in some suburbs?

In recent years, high-end homes have been built in the CBD, such as Marina Bay Residences, Marina One Residences, South Beach Residences and Wallich Residence.

And more residential stock is being developed in the CBD, which in future may more correctly be called the Central District instead.

In May, subsidiaries of SingHaiyi, Chip Eng Seng and Chuan Investments successfully tendered for the en bloc acquisition of Maxwell House in Tanjong Pagar. This office building, built in 1971, will be redeveloped into a mixed-use development, with around 80 per cent zoned for homes and 20 per cent for commercial use.

Last week, International Plaza in Tanjong Pagar was put up for collective sale with a reserve price of S$2.7 billion.

An application has been submitted to the URA for International Plaza to be redeveloped at a gross floor area of around 1.8 million square feet (sq ft), based on commercial use with 40 per cent non-commercial uses such as residential.

Demand for private homes in the CBD is healthy. Developments that were launched for sale this year - Midtown Modern in the Beach Road area and One Bernam in Tanjong Pagar - have sold around 70 per cent and 24 per cent of total units, respectively, as at July.

A white site is one where various uses are allowed, although the government may stipulate a minimum component or a maximum component of a specific use or specific uses. White sites come up for tender infrequently in the CBD and typically attract big price tags.

In 2016, a 99-year leasehold white site with a mandatory office component along Central Boulevard in Marina Bay was awarded to Malaysia's IOI Properties Group for S$2.57 billion or S$1,689 psf per plot ratio (ppr).

Other white sites in the CBD on which Guoco Tower and Asia Square were built also have large office components.

In two weeks time, the tender will close for a white site at Marina View after an unnamed developer, which is reportedly an entity linked to IOI, successfully applied for the site's release from the Reserve List of the Government Land Sales Programme, with a bid of S$1.508 billion or about S$1,379 psf ppr.

The winning bid could approach S$2 billion if the price psf ppr tops that paid by IOI for the Central Boulevard site.

This 99-year leasehold site has a maximum gross floor area of 101,629 square metres (sq m) or around 1.09 million sq ft.

A minimum of 51,000 sq m and 26,000 sq m is to be set aside for residential use and hotel use, respectively. A maximum of 2,000 sq m each is for office use and commercial use (including retail and F&B). The plot can yield some 905 homes and 540 hotel rooms.

What is different about this white site is its small office component. When developed, the site's large residential and hotel components will accentuate the CBD's transformation into a multi-faceted district.

Family offices have continued to grow in Singapore through the pandemic. Could the new development at Marina View specifically target this segment?

The homes could be conceived as high-end live and work spaces that are used by foreign principals of family offices when they are in town.

Imagine spacious homes designed for working and relaxing, provision of meeting rooms, and a development that uses leading edge technological know-how to ensure good air quality and emphasises health and wellness.

Encounters in the curated spaces can lead to wealthy families networking, exchanging ideas and collaborating. Think a mix of luxury homes to unwind and spaces for co-creation.

The new hotel at Marina View can aim to be the top luxury hotel, leveraging on its advantage of being purpose built to meet the demands of the post-pandemic traveller.

Perhaps there will no big ballrooms as demand for the use of such facilities falls. There will be a strong wellness component, lots of nature and large guest rooms that provide the comforts of a home.

Given the price tag of the Marina View site, big groups may jointly bid. Might foreign parties with track record here, be it IOI, or Hong Kong groups such as Hongkong Land, CK Asset Holdings or Sun Hung Kai Properties, or Australia's Lendlease fancy snaring the site?

Singapore-listed groups, which have been active in the CBD, such as CapitaLand, Keppel Corporation, City Developments, Singapore Land Group or GuocoLand, or large unlisted groups here such as Far East Organization, Mapletree Investments, Allgreen Properties and Pontiac Land Group may want to bid aggressively.

There will be much excitement over who secures the Marina View white site, the price of the top bid, and the concept that will be unveiled. Ultimately, Singapore wins if its CBD continues to draw credible players to develop great mixed-use projects that re-make the CBD into a more vibrant live, work, play destination.

Various parts of the CBD, whether new or rejuvenated areas, need no longer be quiet when office workers leave their offices or work from home.


Peace Centre/Peace Mansion tries for en bloc again with S$650m reserve price

The Business Times, 6 Sep 2021, Mon 4:10 pm

By Vivienne Tay

PEACE Centre/Peace Mansion (PCPM) has been put on the market for collective sale once again. This time, the owners are expecting offers in excess of S$650 million, sole marketing agent JLL said on Monday.

The minimum price of S$650 million reflects a unit land rate of about S$1,443 per square foot per plot ratio, after including an estimated lease top-up premium, but before factoring in bonus balcony plot ratio for the residential component. 

The property was previously launched for en bloc in March 2019 with a reserve price of S$688 million. The owners later received in-principle approval from the Singapore Land Authority for a lease top-up to 99 years in April 2019.

PCPM, which is located at 1 Sophia Road, was built around 1977. It comprises 232 commercial units, 86 apartments and a carpark with 162 lots, totalling 319 strata lots in a 10-storey front podium block and a rear 32-storey tower.

More than 80 per cent of the owners have consented to the collective sale, JLL said.

The 76,617 square-foot (sq ft) site the property sits on has a verified gross plot ratio of about 7.89 and may be redeveloped up to a height of 55 metres Singapore height datum, with part of the site potentially rising as high as 67 metres.

Based on a grant of outline planning permission (OPP) from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in 2019, a developer may redevelop the site up to an existing gross floor area (GFA) of 604,578 sq ft with 60 per cent commercial GFA and 40 per cent residential GFA.

This means the site could yield about 362,747 sq ft of commercial space and some 241,831 sq ft of residential units - or about 240 units at an average size of 1,000 sq ft, subject to the relevant authority's approval, JLL said.

PCPM is located near shopping amenities such as Bugis Junction, Bugis+, Plaza Singapura, The Cathay, Wilkie Edge and GR.ID. There are also six MRT stations within a one-kilometre distance - Rochor, Bencoolen, Dhoby Ghaut, Bras Basah, Little India and Bugis MRT stations.

The development is also near educational institutions such as Singapore Management University, Singapore School of the Arts, LASALLE College of the Arts, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and the Kaplan city campus.

Schools within a one-kilometre radius include St Margaret's Primary School and Stamford Primary School. Others within two kilometres of the site include Anglo-Chinese School (Junior), Farrer Park Primary School, River Valley Primary School and St Joseph's Institution Junior.

As the site is zoned for commercial use under URA's Master Plan 2019, there will be no additional buyer's stamp duty for its purchase. There is also no requirement for a pre-application feasibility study for the site based on enquiry with the Land Transport Authority.

JLL Singapore executive director Tan Hong Boon said that with the OPP and in-principle lease top-up approval in place, developers would have more clarity in evaluating and designing their products with certainty, hence allowing them to bid with confidence.

"We expect strong interest for this site due to the reasonable pricing and its potential mixed-use approval. With strong sales from mixed developments nearby such as The M and Midtown-Modern, we are expecting keen competition from developers to bid well in excess of the owners’ minimum price," he added. 

Owners of PCPM have been trying to sell the development since 2007 and engaged marketing agents Savills Singapore and Colliers in separate en bloc exercises to market the property. 

They were not able to get the 80 per cent approval needed for the potential collective sale in 2007, where owners were looking at an indicative price of S$470 million. The approval required was later achieved in February 2011 but with a higher asking price of S$700 million, according to Savills at the time. 

Owners took another stab at selling the property in July 2011 at S$675 million, and again in December 2014 at S$680 million. Owners were eyeing a reserve price of S$650 million in 2018 and later launched a S$688 million tender for the property in February 2019.

The latest tender for PCPM will close on Oct 19, 3pm. 

The Business Times reported in April that Peace Centre and Peace Mansion were among potential en bloc launches, although consultants were seeing "a mismatch in price expectations".


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