A Family Business, a Heritage Legacy

Kampong Glam, an ever hip arts enclave, is a heritage district in the city. It is distinctive as being the former palace of the sultan, it has an immersion of rich cultures from Malay, Arab, Turkish, Javanese influences, while also having Indian, Chinese and Eurasian touches in the neighbourhood. Sultan Gate, a road leading to the former Sultan Palace which is currently a Malay Heritage Centre, is also a “gate” to a wealth of Art and Legacy.

pic2Just located outside the Malay Heritage Centre, lies a row of shophouses that are full of art and heritage. Within a wall of street art, a shop strikes out. Within a glass frontage, one can see the unique Malay and Javanese craft welcoming you into the interiors.

SAMSUNG CSC “Kiah’s Gallery” is a Batik-inspired arts showsroom. Started by a Malay family, one can see the family legacy passed down to the modern age. Yati, the founder of the gallery, started the business together with her family, including her husband and daughter Ain, three years ago. They called this business “Kiah’s Gallery”, with inspired with the name of Ain’s nenek or grandma, as part of keeping the family legacy.

SAMSUNG CSCBeing inspired by a Batik piece they bought from a trader, they grew to love this art, despite it being a dying craft in Singapore. With their personal love of the art reaching its peak three years ago, the family decided to convert their personal love to share with the lovers of this unique Batik art.


SAMSUNG CSCFor the first 18 months, the business was tough. Being new in this line and having to compete with other players in the neighbourhood, Kiah’s Gallery had to find a place in this business. From purely retailing batik-designer pieces, they have extended their services into tailoring and customization, as well as introducing other art pieces like paintings and sculptures.

SAMSUNG CSCSince then the business has been growing well. Their customers consist of a mix of locals as well as tourists. Kiah’s Gallery also carry designer pieces and artefacts that reflect the cultural influences of the Nanyang and Malay heritage. Art pieces from internationally renowned Batik painter Sarkasi Said are also displayed and sold here.

SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSCEvery Batik piece is an art. There are several techniques in the craft. It has influences involving Chinese, Dutch, Indian, Malay and Javanese cultures, as this part of the world has such infuses of these cultures throughout the centuries. Different emblems, like the phoenix and other legendary icons symbolizes the influence of the associated culture. Now there are also modern touches to the craft, like Japanese incursions, to make Batik an exciting artpiece to wear. SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSCSAMSUNG CSC If you are interested to visit the gallery and explore for yourself, please note the following information.

Name: Kiah’s Gallery (look for Yati and Ain)

Address: 71 Unit B Sultan Gate Singapore 198496

Arcadis report put Singapore as 4th on office returns

SINGAPORE has emerged fourth in a recent report that found that the city-state offers investors some of the most attractive returns for minor office building refurbishment investments at 7.53 per cent.

It is one of the top three Asian cities in the ranking, with Shanghai beating it to third place and Hong Kong, which ranked seventh.

The report, done by Arcadis – a leading global asset design and consultancy firm – considers both major and minor refurbishment projects in 15 cities across the world and ranks them by the best expected net rental income return.

According to the report, minor building refurbishment aims to extend the life of an office asset by up to five years, while major refurbishment aims to do so by 15-20 years.

However, Asian markets, including Singapore, might be risky for investors looking to reap returns for refurbishment projects due to the high volume of new office buildings making these markets very competitive.

Singapore has also seen a tide of offices moving away from its traditional central business district to places nearby such as Marina Bay.

For Asian investors looking for opportunities outside their region, European cities London, Warsaw and Madrid are a good bet for attractive returns on major as well as minor office building refurbishment investments.

Top ten city refurbishment rankings – ‘minor’ refurbishment

 1.  Madrid  9.6%
 2.  London  8.5%
 3.  Shanghai  7.9%
 4.  Singapore  7.53%
 5.  Warsaw  7.47%
 6.  Milan  7.35%
 7.  Hong Kong  7%
 8.  Paris  6.99%
 9.  Frankfurt  6%
 10.  New York  5.4%

Straits Trading Building sold to Sun Venture Group






According to local media earlier this month, Straits Trading Company is selling its office tower, Straits Trading Building, to Singapore-based Sun Venture Group for a price of slightly above S$2,800 per square foot (psf) which, at a net lettable area of about 159,000-plus sq ft, had worked out to a price tag of S$450 million for the 999-year leasehold building. The pricing of some S$2,800 psf would be the highest for an office block in six years since the record S$3,125 psf reached for 71 Robinson Road in April 2008, while it was still under construction.

According to the company, the sale is part of Straits Trading’s move to reallocate capital from its portfolio of investment properties which are high in quality but low in yield to “potentially higher return real estate opportunities”.

Straits Developments Private Limited (SDPL), a unit of Straits Trading, has undertaken to Sun Venture that when the deal is completed, the rent and service charge that the property’s tenants and licensees have to pay as at March 1, 2015, will not be less than S$1.5 million monthly. If the sum does fall short, SDPL will have to top up the difference.

Sun Venture is a real-estate developer and investor with a portfolio of commercial assets that include an office building at 50 Scotts Road, four floors at Samsung Hub, Westgate Tower and Paya Lebar Square.

SDPL currently occupies the office premises on the building’s 28th floor and will lease the office space from the building’s buyer from the date that the deal is completed, up to Dec 31, 2016, with a further one-year option for renewal.

The transaction, slated to be completed by Dec 18, 2014, is conditional on shareholders’ approval at an extraordinary general meeting, among other things.

Bussorah St


No.1 Tessensohn Road (S$2,080psf)


Lowest $psf sold: S$2,080psf

Transacted $ per unit: S$6,160,000

Tenure: FreeHold

Land Square Feet per unit sold: 2,962 sf


No. 2 Serangoon Rd (S$2,432psf)

Serangoon Rd2

Lowest $psf sold: S$2,432psf

Transacted $ per unit: S$4,500,000

Tenure: FreeHold

Land Square Feet per unit sold: 1,850 sf

Well, it seems like Serangoon Road is on the chart again. Last week we shared that Serangoon Road shop-houses were one of the most expensive shop-houses sold in distract 7 & 8 for the past 8 months and apparently it is also one of the cheapest . I guess it is not surprising if it ends up in the chart of “Best-selling shop-houses”.

No.3 Belilios Lane (S$2,736psf)

Belilios Ln

Lowest $psf sold: S$2,736

Transacted $ per unit: S$8,805,000

Tenure: 99 yrs frm 1995

Land Square Feet per unit sold: 3,218 sf


No.4 Desker Rd (S$2,855psf)

desker road

Lowest $psf sold: S$2,855

Transacted $ per unit: S$3,500,000

Tenure: 99 yrs frm 1995

Land Square Feet per unit sold: 1,226 sf


No.5 Bussorah St (S$3,125psf)

Bussorah St

Lowest $psf sold: S$3,125

Transacted $ per unit: S$8,800,000

Tenure: 99 yrs from 2003

Land Square Feet per unit sold: 2,816 sf






No.1 Bali Lane (S$6,217psf)

Bali lane2

Highest $psf sold: S$6,217psf
Transacted $ per unit: S$4,450,000
Tenure: 999 yrs from 1833
Land Square Feet per unit sold: 716 sf

No. 2 Arab Street (S$5,972psf)

arab st

Highest $psf sold: S$5,972
Transacted $ per unit: S$4,380,000
Tenure: 999 yrs from 1827
Land Square Feet per unit sold: 720 sf
No.3 Serangoon Rd (S$4,826psf)

serangoon rd

Highest $psf sold: S$4,826
Transacted $ per unit: S$6,800,000
Tenure: 999 yrs frm 1995
Land Square Feet per unit sold: 1,409 sf
No.4 Syed Alwi Rd (S$4,363psf)

Syed Alwi Road




Highest $psf sold: S$4,363
Transacted $ per unit: S$3,800,000
Tenure: FreeHold
Land Square Feet per unit sold: 875 sf

No.5 Jalan Besar (S$4,111psf)






Highest $psf sold: S$4,111
Transacted $ per unit: S$8,000,000
Tenure: FreeHold
Land Square Feet per unit sold: 1,946 sf

Accor moving operations to Singapore

Hotel operator Accor announced on Monday (Sep 8) that it will be moving its Luxury and Upscale marketing operations from Paris, France, to Singapore as it looks to capitalise on the continued growth in Asia Pacific.

The company said in its media release that the move signalled the growing importance of Asia Pacific in these segments and, with Asian consumers accounting for almost half of its global luxury sales, it hoped the move would bring new insights for its business unit. Accor has its headquarters in Paris, but has a business presence in 92 countries.

In Asia Pacific, Chairman and CEO of Accor Asia Pacific Michael Issenberg said it has more than 170 luxury and upscale hotels, with over 70 under development. “This means that Accor will open, on average, a new luxury and upscale hotel in Asia Pacific every month for the next five years.”

Accor’s Luxury and Upscale segment includes brands such as Sofitel, Pullman, MGallery, Grand Mercure and Sebel. China alone has 19 Sofitel and 15 Pullman hotels, making it the top market for these brands outside of Europe, according to the statement.

It added that while China and India are leading the market growth, others such as Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines also have a growing affluent middle class with increasing disposable incomes and a desire to travel, which Accor aims to capitalise.

Serviced Apartments rising in popularity over hotels

SERVICED apartments are losing their stigma as the less glamorous and poorer cousins of hotels, as shrinking corporate budgets siphon business travellers away from hotels to them.

At the same time, a growing need for longer-term transient homes brought on by greater global mobility is feeding demand for serviced apartments, which are cheaper to stay in since residents don’t have to pay for extras such as restaurants and bars, swimming pools, conference rooms and business services.

Serviced apartments also tend to feel more like home – larger and complete with a laundry area and fully equipped kitchen. This is good for the frugal and savvy business traveller because since the global financial crisis, companies have cut back on expatriates’ housing allowances, preferring to give them a monthly lump sum to take charge of their own accommodation instead of hiring leasing agents to look after their needs.

Transaction over X-value remained negative

The overall median Transaction Over X-value (TOX), which measures whether people are overpaying or underpaying the SRX Property X-Value estimated market value, remained at negative S$10,000 last month, up from negative S$20,000 in July.

For districts with more than 10 resale transactions, districts 15 (Katong, Joo Chiat, Amber Road), 23 (Bukit Panjang, Choa Chu Kang) and 16 (Bedok, Upper East Coast) posted the lowest median TOX at -S$40,000, -S$38,000, -S$30,000, respectively.

Conversely, district 11 (Watten Estate, Novena, Thomson) had the highest median TOX of S$50,000, followed by district 18 (Tampines, Pasir Ris) and district 25 (Kranji, Woodgrove) with S$16,000 and S$9,000, respectively.

US firms concerned about rising costs in Singapore

US companies in Singapore continue to have major concerns about the costs of labour, housing and office space here with more of them dissatisfied than before.

According to the latest survey by the US Chamber of Commerce and the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (AmCham Singapore), up to 53 per cent of respondents said that finding low cost labour in Singapore was a key concern, more than the 48 per cent who felt so last year.

Within the region, US businesses found that the problem of finding cheap labour existed only in Singapore. The survey in the other nine Asean countries showed that the respondents there indicated the availability of low cost labour as a strength rather than a concern.

The survey showed that the frustration of US businesses in finding cheap labour in Singapore is not new even though their satisfaction levels have declined by 19 per cent since 2009.

Some other findings on regional countries can be found here:

Prime Waterfront Homes and Living in Singapore


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