China Square Central could be site for future service apartment development

A serviced apartment could be built at China Square Central, a development right in the heart of Chinatown.

Property firm Frasers Hospitality is eyeing the site for one of its Capri by Fraser outlets, The Straits Times understands.

The company already has a Capri near Changi Airport.

Frasers Commercial Trust (FCOT), a related entity which owns China Square Central, said the Urban Redevelopment Authority has given provisional permission for new work at the complex at 18, Cross Street.

This includes possible alterations to the centre as well as an additional gross floor area of 172,223 sq ft for hotel use. The site, which had an assigned gross plot ratio of 4.2, has also been rezoned to have no gross plot ratio.

FCOT’s manager is “still evaluating and exploring all options” on the property, which may be subject to other regulatory approvals, as well as commercial and financial viability, it said, adding that “no decision has been made”.

Frasers Hospitality operates the 313-unit Capri by Fraser in Changi Business Park, which opened in 2012.

Capri units are hybrid hotel and serviced apartments and cater to guests on shorter stays.

Frasers Hospitality also operates four other brands – Fraser Suites, Fraser Residence, Fraser Place, and Modena by Fraser, which is focused on China.

While there are many boutique hotels in the Chinatown area, plus the 367-room Parkroyal on Pickering, there is just one serviced apartment – Ascott Raffles Place, said Mr Desmond Sim, CBRE research head for Singapore and South-east Asia.

Ms Chia Siew Chuin, director of research and advisory at Colliers International, said the serviced apartment sector is generally considered more resilient and less volatile than the hotel market due to the longer average length of stay. At the same time, rising demand for shorter stays has meant the emergence of a new class of serviced apartments with hotel licences, she said.

Apart from Capri, these include the Ascott Raffles Place and the Pan Pacific Serviced Suites Beach Road.

Experts note that there appears to be an ample supply of hotel rooms, with no urgency for new construction given the falling tourist numbers on the back of uncertainties in the region, including the political events in Thailand.

No hotel sites feature in the first half of next year’s Government Land Sales programme.

CBRE’s Mr Sim said that the plans for Chinatown would support retail activities in the area.


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