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Golden Mile Complex

Golden Mile Complex 4, Aug 07.jpg

Golden Mile Complex (Chinese: 黄金坊) is a high-rise commercial and residential building on Beach Road in Kallang, Singapore. The building was formerly known as Woh Hup Complex. The complex has 411 shops and 500 parking places.

History

In 1966, the Urban Renewal Department of the Housing and Development Board was formed to facilitate greater flexibility and autonomy in comprehensive redevelopment of Singapore’s Central Area. The Golden Mile Complex development was the result of the department’s first Sales of Sites programme in 1967.

The “Golden Mile” refers to the strip of land between Nicoll Highway and Beach Road. It was planned by the Singapore Government as a high-rise spine fronting Kallang Basin. The area used to be occupied by squatters and small marine industries.

Built at a cost of S$18 million and completed in 1973, the 16-storey Golden Mile Complex is one of the early pioneers of integrating multiple operations into a single mixed-use development in Singapore. Today, the complex’s shopping mall houses numerous Thai clubs, shops and eateries, as well as tourist and ticketing agencies for travellers going to Malaysia by bus or coach.

A minor upgrading was carried out on the Golden Mile Complex building in 1983, when tinted glass was added to the Beach Road façade to achieve the desired overall thermal transfer value rating. In 1986, the whole building was redecorated.

In March 2006, the Golden Mile Complex was described as a “vertical slum”, “terrible eyesore” and “national disgrace” by Singapore Nominated Member of Parliament Ivan Png: “Each individual owner acts selfishly, adding extensions, zinc sheets, patched floors, glass, all without any regard for other owners and without any regard for the national welfare.” The residents have also done over their balconies to create an extra room.

The Golden Mile Complex, which is located on a 99-year leasehold site starting from 1969, has been planned to be put up for an en bloc sale. If the sale for the strata-titled mixed development is successful, the building would be redeveloped.

Architecture

The Golden Mile Complex’s shopping mall in the atrium houses numerous Thai clubs, shops and eateries. Thai shops fill up most of the spaces in the complex

The Golden Mile Complex is a commercial and residential development, providing offices, shopping, entertainment services and apartment living within its podium and stepped terrace structure. It houses 411 shops, 226 offices and 68 residential units. The building was designed by Gan Eng Oon, William Lim and Tay Kheng Soon of the Singapore architect firm Design Partnership, now known as DP Architects.

Sited on 1.3 hectares and built to a height of 89 metres (292 feet), the Golden Mile Complex is an exemplary type of “megastructure” described by architectural historian, Reyner Banham. It is one of the few that have been actually realised in the world. Pritzker Architecture Prize laureate Fumihiko Maki had called the Golden Mile Complex a “collective form”. It successfully propagates high-density usage and diversity under a broad range of ideas advanced by the Japanese Metabolist Movement of the 1960s. The complex was designed as a “vertical city”, which stands in contrast to homogenised cities where functional zoning restrains all signs of the latter’s vitality.

Conceived as a prototype for a lively environment, the design of the Golden Mile Complex was intended to catalyse urban development along Beach Road by employing an extruded section that would stretch along the East Coast facing the sea. In terms of public transport and accessibility, the building is serviced from the rear on Beach Road, instead of its frontage with Nicoll Highway, with a continuous pedestrian spine linking all buildings in the Golden Mile of Beach Road. The design was influenced by the linear city concepts of Le Corbusier and Arturo Soria y Mata.

The stepped profile of the Golden Mile Complex offers the occupants of the apartments on the upper floors a panoramic view of the sea and sky. All the apartments have balconies, and two-storey maisonette penthouses crown off the building. The narrowness of this sloping slab form enhances natural ventilation and shades a lofty communal concourse above the podium along Beach Road. The stepped design also reduces the impact of noise from the road traffic. The Golden Mile Complex preceded by several years avant-garde stepped-section buildings which were built in the United Kingdom and Europe.

The lower floors contain offices and a retail mall, located within staggered atria to allow natural light into the heart of the building.

BT: Inspiration behind MBFC

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THE recently released Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) Master Plan 2013 highlights Marina Bay as the new financial and residential district in the urban city centre.

Currently, the Marina Bay Financial Centre (MBFC), which saw its second phase completed earlier this year, is the only development on the new Marina Bay site. Consisting of five buildings – two residential and three commercial, MBFC was designed as a landmark development, artistically merging the older part of the business district with future developments by Marina Bay.

Developed as a joint venture (JV) by Cheung Kong (Holdings), Hongkong Land and Keppel Land, MBFC was envisioned by the developers to provide a dynamic urban environment that would create a strong profile on the Singapore skyline.

To achieve this vision, international architectural firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF), the lead designers behind MBFC, incorporated the idea of a crystalline language using sloping surfaces and slanted tops to give a sense of layering and depth.

KPF architects Robert Whitlock and Bruce Fisher explained that while the design team started out with a more dramatic concept for the buildings, the concepts had to be reconciled with both the height limits of the area and the fundamentally commercial nature of the development.

“The tops of the buildings in the original design were conceived with steep angles and poetic expressions,” explained Mr Whitlock, design principal at KPF, during an interview with BT at the firm’s New York head office.

“From an architectural point of view, there was a lot of pressure to balance the architectural expression, in terms of an iconic set of buildings, with numerous client requirements, particularly efficiencies, that tempered building forms,” said Bruce Fisher, director, KPF.

Owing to the massive scale of the MBFC projects, which spans a four hectare site – synonymous in scale to London’s Canary Wharf, the KPF team worked closely with two local architectural firms – DCA for Phase 1 and A61 for Phase 2 – to ensure the project kept to its tight deadline and met all the requirements.

“Our role for the project was to advise on local authority guidelines and how to achieve the design intent while complying with the stringent requirements. We were more involved in the layout of the residential units based on the developer’s complex unit mix, working closely with KPF to fit the units within the building form and external envelope,” explained Khoo Poh Bin, director, DCA.

The A61 team, on the other hand, worked more closely on the commercial towers given their past expertise on such projects, including working on One Raffles Quay with KPF.

Although the tasks were distributed, the team essentially worked as one to ensure coherence and continuity in fulfilling the developers’ vision. As Mr Khoo noted: “The 12-hour time difference meant work continued without interruption 24/7. We would finish our part in Singapore and update KPF in New York for them to carry on and vice versa, which proved to be an ideal arrangement for the developer.”

According to Mr Whitlock, the developers had very exacting guidelines on how they envisioned the buildings to look and perform with full glass façades and no curved elements in the form.

“The JV’s brief was based entirely on the perceived needs of the financial services community, with a requirement for very efficient floor plates and unlimited views. The horizontal sunshades gave us a way to provide some variation and environmental performance to the facades while delivering floor to ceiling glass, edge to edge,” said Mr Whitlock.

Furthermore, given that MBFC was primarily a commercial venture, there was no need for it to be as dramatically configured, per se, added Mr Fisher.

The workhorse

“The MBFC is really the incredible work horse of Singapore and perhaps, because of that, a little less expressive than say the casino or the Esplanade,” Mr Fisher said.

The URA, too, had a list of requirements. For one, they required that the buildings’ glass exterior meet a minimum glazing level and not have a green tint.

“One Raffles Quay and the NTUC building, which create a sort of gateway to Marina Bay, were clad in green glass and the URA requested a different expression for the MBFC project so that there would be more visual diversity to the area,” commented Mr Whitlock.

Additionally, URA’s guidelines stipulated that there be a street wall, at least 19 metres in height, surrounding most of the site, to create continuity between adjacent development sites. “At heart, this is an urban planning gesture that helps to provide a sense of defined space,” explained Mr Fisher.

However, based on the design of the site, the architects felt that a solid wall would not fill the space adequately, and hence offered alternative solutions.

The design team proposed that the site have 19-metre canopies, instead of a wall, to allow for an open, less restrictive, appearance. “With the canopies, we ended up with a structure that defines the street edge but is very porous,” said Mr Fisher.

“The wall requirement was not working for the architecture, so we had to present alternatives. The URA gave us guidelines, but as with most zoning guidelines, the authorities cannot always predict exactly how guidelines will translate into the final build-out,” he continued. “It is really up to the architects to take this abstract concept and challenge it, to achieve the best results for all parties.”

In consideration of the different requirements – both from the developers and the URA, the architects eventually altered the designs to showcase a lesser degree of dramatic expression to allow for more efficient and dense buildings that complemented the surrounding architecture.

In addition, as Mr Whitlock explained: “The MBFC buildings needed to be more than what you see in the old city where you have a lot of distinct buildings coming together to represent an urban identity, just by virtue of proximity and density.”

“We were trying to find a common architectural language that is appropriate for both commercial and residential uses to allow the architecture of each building to be a little bit subordinate to the collective identity.”

Although the architects faced challenges in trying to deliver a design that met demands of both the developers and the URA, the MBFC site was an area they were extremely familiar with.

Back in 2001, KPF was independently commissioned by Mapletree Investments to conduct studies on the type of programmes and density that should be put on the Marina Bay site.

This was because the master plan that had been in place for a decade needed revision, based on a new understanding within the URA on how the landfill site might be developed to meet today’s needs.

“We did a study for them to look at the application of a mixed-use model that would bring multiple uses to the site and make the most of its adjacency to both Marina Bay and the traditional banking centre,” explained Mr Whitlock.

According to KPF, Mapletree used the study to carry out their own research internally before releasing tender conditions to bidders in 2003, for the Marina Bay white site.

The development guidelines eventually released to interested bidders took KPF’s preliminary studies to an entirely new level.

“There is a huge leap from deciding that you want to develop a site to establishing a framework that will set up the proper moves for later development,” said Mr Whitlock.

Balancing all needs

While KPF’s underlying concepts of connectivity to the traditional city centre, provision of public open space and introduction of the mixed use model were implemented in Mapletree’s revised plans, the main difference was the requirement for a higher density area and for the site to be fully integrated with all of the city’s other systems and infrastructure.

With the new guidelines they received, KPF spent a great deal of time contemplating the layout of the buildings to allow for architectural expression, without compromising on the practical and utilitarian needs of the site. “A traditional master plan development might have placed the buildings as squares on a chessboard where everything lines up. We chose however to subtly rotate the towers to maximize views in all the buildings and relieve the feeling of density on the site,” Mr Whitlock said.

However, despite the stringent guidelines and myriad requirements, the architects felt that such a process enables better architecture.

As Mr Whitlock noted: “When you work on a project like this, you start to have a different understanding of architecture. Typically, an architect is trying to design a building that is built on a site. They want it to be beautiful and expressive of both the owner’s and architect’s aspirations. With any luck, it tries to find some clues with the local context so it does not feel like it has been dropped from a spaceship.

“But when you have to design a whole city within a city in a way where it has some richness, some subtlety, and an endless play between the built environment and public spaces, all of which must relate to the rest of the city – it takes things to an entirely different level.”

BT: Non-residential deals to remain active

http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/specials/property/non-residential-deals-remain-active-h2-20140715

Non-residential deals will continue to drive investment activity in Singapore for the rest of this year, given faltering sales in the tepid private residential market, DTZ said in a report yesterday.

The report found that overall real estate investments fell around 11 per cent from the previous quarter to $4.4 billion in Q2.

And although non-residential investments (particularly offices) drove the volume, they too fell 6 per cent to $2.9 billion on muted transactions in the hospitality and mixed-use sectors.

At least six big-ticket non-residential property deals were concluded in Q2.

In the commercial sector, three office properties – Prudential Tower, Equity Plaza and Cecil House – all along Cecil Street in the central business district, were transacted. A consortium of Far East Organization, Far East Orchard and Sekisui House also beat seven others in a government land sales tender to clinch a 99-year-leasehold commercial site on Woodlands Avenue 5/Woodlands Square for $634 million.

In retail, Frasers Centrepoint Trust acquired Changi City Point at Changi Business Park for $305 million; in Industrial, Ascendas Reit bought Hyflux Innovation Centre at 80 Bendemeer Road for $191 million.

The transactions in Q2 brought the total investment volume in the first half of 2014 to $9.4 billion, 17 per cent lower than the same period last year. It also looks on track to achieve the earlier forecast of $20-25 billion for the full year.

Property companies and real estate investment trusts (Reits) were the main drivers of activity in Q2. Property companies were the largest buyers, accounting for $3.1 billion or 71 per cent of investment activity.

Reits were also very active, but their divestments of $512 million exceeded their acquisitions of $496 million, making them net sellers in Q2. This is expected to reverse in Q3, though. Acquisitions are likely to be boosted by the listing of Frasers Hospitality Trust.

The trust’s initial portfolio will comprise six hotels and six serviced residences, including two – InterContinental Singapore and Fraser Suites Singapore – located in Singapore. Both will be injected for a combined value of $824.1 million.

Swee Shou Fern, DTZ’s director of investment advisory services, expects Reit and developer acquisitions to continue supporting investment activity going forward.

“As global real estate markets start to improve, investors and funds are becoming more positive about the performance of the real estate . . . market. This could see them increasing their allocations to real estate and Singapore could benefit, being one of the most liquid markets in the region,” she said.

A Colliers report released last week turned up similar findings and projected similar trends.

It blamed the slump in residential investment sales on “the double whammy of frail investor interests in en bloc and strata-titled properties, as well as anaemic developers’ quest for land acquisition via collective sales”.

“In the next six months of the year, sales emanating from (government) land sales are forecast to stay subdued. On the private sector front, the collective sales market will likely remain depressed as the same factors that have kept it at a standstill will continue to play out in the months ahead,” it projects.

The consultancy expects interest in commercial properties to gather pace, backed by a steadily recovering office rental market.

“In addition, small and mid-sized family offices or single family offices are increasingly shifting their asset allocation towards property-oriented investments, particularly that of good quality office buildings that have potential upside in yield and capital appreciation. More of such deals can be expected to be sealed in the coming quarters,” it said.

Retail rents to hold up

According to yesterday’s Business Times, Retail rents may either hold or inch up over the next few years despite new supply coming onstream. This is supported by a healthy demand for retail space and the fact that rents tend to be “sticky” in nature, property analysts say.

This projection provides cold comfort to retailers looking for a breather from rising business costs. It also goes against the government’s hopes of easing rents with its estimated 600,000 gross square metres of retail space supply from 2014 to 2016.

JLL head of research for Singapore and South-east Asia Chua Yang Liang believes that retail rents will remain stable in the next three years, supported by healthy pre-commitment levels in recently completed malls and for the uncompleted pipeline.

For instance, Orchard Gateway recently opened with nearly full occupancy while the soon-to-be completed refurbishment of Shaw Centre has secured 90 per cent commitment.

“Vacated spaces have been quickly taken up as evidenced by Metro’s takeover of Robinson’s former 130,000 sq ft premises at Centrepoint, which is poised to be completed by the fourth quarter,” Dr Chua said.

In the suburban areas, retail rents are also expected to hold up, even though a good 65 per cent of the estimated 4.1 million sq ft of new net lettable retail area to be rolled out by 2016 will be located in these regions, while only 7 per cent of the supply will be in the Orchard/Scotts area, said DTZ’s regional head (SEA) of research, Lee Lay Keng.

“Upcoming malls such as The Seletar Mall and One KM have reported healthy pre-commitments while there are still retailers looking at expanding in the suburban malls to tap the population living in nearby housing estates,” she said.

Analysts expect prime retail rents in the Orchard/ Scotts Road area to rise in the next three years given limited new supply there. Maybank analyst Ong Kian Lin estimates that Orchard Road prime retail rents will grow 2.5 per cent from 2014 to 2017 on a compound annual growth rate basis.

Suburban malls enjoy higher footfall than some prime luxury malls on Orchard Road, possibly because residents frequent the former more for necessity shopping, he observed. But the conversion rate of footfall to sales is higher at Orchard Road malls, which are more patronised by tourists.

The gap between Orchard Road and suburban mall rents has also narrowed over the years, said Savills Singapore research head Alan Cheong. Monthly rents (without the percentage gross turnover portion) for prime retail space in Orchard Road and suburban malls averaged $34.60 and $31.10 psf respectively in the first quarter.

Mr Cheong noted that grouses by retailers over high rents stem from a disconnect between declining sales and a stubbornly high rental base. Retail rents here typically consist of a base rent and a percentage of gross turnover, so a decline in sales of a tenant should translate to lower rent paid to the landlord. Yet, rents have not budged for some retailers.

Douglas Benjamin, chief operating officer of FJ Benjamin Holdings, an international luxury and lifestyle brand retailer, said: “It’s fair if you are in a mall where business is good and the landlord wants to increase your rent. But if your sales have fallen, maybe because another mall has opened next door, it doesn’t make sense for your landlord to want to raise rents.”

But a study by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) showed that for most of the renewals in 2012 and 2013, the effective increase in rent per annum was in line with inflation over the period of their lease. Growth in retail rents in the core downtown and city fringe areas was also flat in Q1 compared to a year ago, according to the URA rental index.

But rentals for prime spaces islandwide tracked by Knight Frank, which looked at more comparable units of 350-1,500 sq ft with the best frontage, connectivity, footfall and accessibility, were relatively resilient. Rents for such spaces rose 1.9 per cent in the first quarter from a year ago, driven by higher rents for such spaces in Marina, City Hall and Bugis.

Apart from rents, retail businesses are contending with higher labour costs, tighter foreign workerpolicies and a strong Singapore dollar. The growth of e-commerce is also eating into the sales pie of brick-and- mortar retailers, consultants say.

“We believe that over time, online shopping will be a game changer and unless one is talking about the very high-end products or those where personal service is still deemed irreplaceable, the rest of the retail industry will undergo major structural changes,” Mr Cheong said.

“Only food and beverage may for now survive but there is a limit to how much space a landlord can convert to F&B use,” he added. “Therefore, we believe that it could be online shopping, working through the demand side, rather than increased supply that will ultimately bring down rents.”

Ms Lee of DTZ, however, downplayed the impact from e-commerce. “There will still be consumers who seek the wholesome retail experience of seeing, touching and trying on their goods before they buy,” she said. More online retailers such as blog shops are also setting up physical shops, she added.

http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/premium/top-stories/retail-rents-hold-despite-supply-20140707

In a separate report, Rents have been a sticky issue for retailers, even though consecutive data released lately shows that retail rents have eased and will be capped by the upcoming supply in retail space.

Retailers decry that rents have not factored in their declining sales. This runs contrary to the fact that most lease agreements have a variable rent component based on gross turnover (GTO).

Most landlords here, except for strata-titled owners, charge their tenants a base rent and a percentage of GTO. The rent structures vary across tenants and locations. Some tenants pay both a base rent and a turnover rent of 0.5-2 per cent; others pay by either that formula or purely turnover rent of 10-20 per cent – whichever is higher. There are other permutations in the rent calculations.

Whatever the case, having a turnover rent as part of the total rent computation should have made overall rents more susceptible to the revenues of retailers.

http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/premium/top-stories/why-retail-rents-are-still-sticking-point-20140707