Category Archives: Boat Quay/Clarke Quay/Chinatown

Along Singapore River

Funan closed for revitalization

Funan DigitaLife Mall, which was closed this July, will undergo three years of redevelopment works, according to CapitaLand Mall Trust Management on Jul 22.

This is to enhance the site’s attractiveness as a lifestyle destination in the revitalised Civic and Cultural District in Singapore. The mall will reopen in 3 years’ time and will cost $560m. it will yield 887,000 sqft of floor space, double the current size. It will be a mixed use complex of 2 office towers, serviced residences and retail components.

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Two adjoining shophouses in Chinatown for sale

Two adjoining commercial shophouses in Chinatown have been put up for sale at an indicative asking price of S$30 million.

The units, 54 and 56 Pagoda Street, are on the main pedestrian thoroughfare in the heart of Chinatown.

They have a combined land area of 3,010 sq ft and a built-in area of 9,226 sq ft.

Under the Master Plan 2014, the three and a half-storey conservative shophouses are zoned “commercial” within the Kreta Ayer Historic District.

They are fully occupied. The ground floor is leased to two retail shops, and the upper floors, accessible via an external staircase, are leased to three office tenants. Both units have a 99-year leasehold tenure that began on Oct 30, 1995.

Christina Sim, director of capital markets at Cushman & Wakefield, said: “This sale represents a rare opportunity to own two units in the heart of busy Chinatown with its unique history and heritage. We expect interest to come from traditional homegrown house brands within Chinatown that require tremendous visibility for their business, high-net-worth investors and institutional funds seeking a trophy heritage property in downtown Singapore.”

Cushman & Wakefield has been appointed to sell the shophouses; the Expression of Interest will close at 3 pm on Nov 27.

The shophouses are just 50m from Chinatown MRT station, and enjoy significant pedestrian footfall throughout the year, especially during key festivals such as the Lunar New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Other nearby tourist attractions include the Chinatown Heritage Centre, Sri Mariamman Temple and the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. The Tanjong Pagar office sub-market is a stone’s throw away.

http://business.asiaone.com/news/two-adjoining-shophouses-chinatown-sale#sthash.6uda5GrP.dpuf

Zouk being sold to Genting HK

Iconic Singapore club Zouk is being sold for an undisclosed sum to Genting Hong Kong (GHK), which operates the popular Star Cruises.

The wildly popular Zouk brand could be headed for more overseas expansion under its new owner, given the group’s casinos, cruise ships, hotels and other entertainment properties around the world.

The acquisition is expected to be completed by the year end. GHK is buying all of Zouk’s major trademarks, the new Clarke Quay club and the annual ZoukOut dance music festival in December, but not Zouk Kuala Lumpur.

GHK is headquartered and listed in Hong Kong with a secondary listing in Singapore. It is an affiliate of the Genting Group. Genting Singapore is also part of the group.

NHB launches revitalised river trail

As a young girl in the 1940s, Mrs Geraldene Lowe-Ismail would see people stream in and out of a Chinese clinic in Chinatown as she watched opera shows with her grandmother at two theatres nearby.

The theatres are long gone, but the building in Eu Tong Sen Street which originally housed the clinic, known as Thong Chai Medical Institution, still stands and is now a national monument.

Mrs Lowe-Ismail, now 77 and a veteran tour guide, is glad that the building has been preserved. Established in 1867 by seven Chinese merchants, the clinic provided free medical treatment to the needy, including coolies and boatmen who worked along the Singapore River.

The former Thong Chai Medical Institution is one of 14 heritage sites featured in a self-guided walking trail launched by the National Heritage Board (NHB) yesterday.

The 2.8km Singapore River Walk, which takes about 1 1/2 hours to complete, stretches from Collyer Quay to Robertson Quay. It covers historic buildings, places of worship and bridges.

Those who walk along the route – which replaces the Singapore River Trail launched by NHB in 2005 – can learn about the river’s story through 14 “heritage markers”, plaques detailing the history of each site. Seven are new – including those featuring the former clinic and the Masjid Omar Kampong Melaka, Singapore’s oldest mosque and place of worship established in 1820.

Mr Tan Boon Hui, NHB’s assistant chief executive of museums and programmes, said the revitalised trail focuses on the river and its evolution, unlike the previous trail which offered a broader storyline of Singapore’s development. “We hope the enhanced trail will reveal lesser known facts of the river and enable a renewed appreciation of its vital role over the years,” he said.

Global services company American Express funded the refurbishment of the decade-old trail, which cost US$160,000 (S$227,000).

The funds went towards further research, trail booklets, the development of new and updated site markers, and an interactive website which will be available early next year.

The sites featured on the trail will not overlap with those on the upcoming Jubilee Walk, said NHB curator David Chew. The Jubilee Walk – an 8km trail – comprises 25 historic and iconic markers in the civic district and Marina Bay area, and will be launched on Nov 29.

More information on the Singapore River Walk can be found on the NHB’s website.

Prime office rents seen softening further

OFFICE rents in Singapore’s Central Business District (CBD) likely peaked in the first quarter of this year, with further softening becoming more pronounced as more tenants opt for cheaper decentralised offices and financial institutions consolidate amid an uncertain economic outlook.

Key projects seen weighing down office rents in the Raffles Place and Marina Bay area in the second quarter were Asia Square in Marina Bay as well as CapitaGreen in Raffles Place.

According to some consultants, there was an aggressive marketing strategy to fill up Asia Square amid a potential divestment of Tower 1 by BlackRock Inc. The sale is said to have drawn bids from Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, CapitaLand and Keppel Land.

“As Asia Square Tower 1 is going through divestment exercise, it is in the landlord’s interest to fill up the building quickly,” said Cushman & Wakefield research director Christine Li.

In Marina Bay, Grade A effective direct rents – which are based on per floor basis and account for rent holidays and other incentives – slipped to S$11.01 per square foot per month (psf pm) in Q2, down from S$13.22 psf pm in Q1, Cushman & Wakefield estimated. In Raffles Place, rents dipped to S$10.66 psf pm in Q2 from S$10.92 psf pm in Q1.

Data released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) showed that office rents in the Central Region weakened by 2.6 per cent in the second quarter, after rising 0.6 per cent in the first quarter.

Ms Li is projecting a decline of 2 per cent in overall CBD prime office rents for each quarter in the second half, with the Marina Bay area more susceptible to rental fluctuations since some 58 per cent of the tenants there are banking tenants – of which many are reviewing their space requirements – compared with about 49 per cent in Raffles Place.

Savills head of research Alan Cheong said that he is expecting another 3-5 per cent slide in prime office rents in the CBD in the second half compared with the first half.

According to Colliers International, cost-conscious companies that do not require a CBD front office are making plans to move out of the financial district to reduce their occupancy costs.

Germany’s automotive firm Daimler Group, for instance, is moving from Centennial Tower in City Hall to about 55,000 sq ft at Westgate Tower in Jurong East with an estimated 30 per cent rental savings. Insurance company Great Eastern Life is also taking up close to 33,000 sq ft at Westgate Tower. Mechanical engineering services firm Beca has reportedly leased 26,000 sq ft at Westgate Tower, relocating from Anson Centre in Shenton Way.

Knight Frank head of consultancy and research Alice Tan noted that the current lack of demand from potential large-space tenants, adding that with the possible deterioration in market sentiment, “downside risks on Singapore’s rental growth could become more pronounced going forward”.

A report released by Knight Frank last week showed a 1.4 per cent drop in prime office rents in Raffles Place and Marina Bay based on 2,500 to 5,000 sq ft of net lettable area and flagged that Singapore’s prime office market is at a stage of accelerating decline in the rental cycle.

“As global and domestic business conditions turned cautious, leasing activities in Singapore’s office market are showing signs of weakening,” Ms Tan added. “Typical large space occupiers, in particular financial institutions, are holding back their expansion plans or are going through a consolidation phase by relocating to alternative locations or consolidating their offices to fewer locations in the CBD.”

Ms Li noted that a growing amount of shadow and secondary space is easing the supply crunch this year as some large bank tenants give up more space in Raffles Place and Marina Bay.

For tenants whose leases expire next year, they will be “spoilt for choice” as about four million sq ft of prime office space and 2.3 million sq ft of business park space (out of which 1.1 million sq ft comes from MapleTree Business City II) will be completed, Ms Li added.

http://www.btinvest.com.sg/dailyfree/prime-office-rents-seen-softening-further/

Singapore Private Propertys fall 3.2% for second quarter

Singapore recorded the second-biggest year-on-year drop in private property prices in Asia for the second quarter, according to an index out yesterday.

It noted that apartment prices fell 3.2 per cent in the three months to June 30 over the same period a year earlier. China was the only Asian country to fare worse, with values there dropping 5.7 per cent in the same period.

Overall, Singapore had the eighth biggest price decline among 56 global residential markets tracked by the Knight Frank Global House Price Index. Ms Alice Tan, director and head of consultancy and research at Knight Frank, said yesterday: “Prospective buyers remain cautious against the backdrop of existing cooling measures and… anticipate further price correction.”

More falls in prices and rents are expected due to a range of factors, including more completed homes hitting the market, impending interest rate hikes and a faltering economy, both here and overseas, she added.

The Knight Frank Global House Price Index – which is compiled quarterly with official statistics where available and weighted by gross domestic product (GDP) – posted a marginal 0.1 per cent growth. It was the weakest growth rate since the final quarter of 2011.

Among the 56 housing markets tracked, 27 per cent recorded an annual decline in prices, said Knight Frank. “Lingering concerns over the euro zone economy, jitters in global stock markets and discussions of when, not if, a rate rise in the United States occurs are impinging on growth,” the property consultancy said in a statement.

Hong Kong topped the table with a 20.7 per cent year-on-year price growth, thanks to increasing liquidity and the flow of wealthy Chinese investors into its sector.

Dubai was at the bottom of the index, with prices weakening 12.2 per cent year-on-year due to weaker demand, a strong US dollar and ongoing cooling measures.

Knight Frank noted that the housing markets in China and the US – two countries which together account for about 33 per cent of global GDP – are on divergent paths.

Mainstream prices in China are down an average of 6.2 per cent from the start of last year, while those in the US are up 7.6 per cent.

http://www.straitstimes.com/business/spore-private-property-prices-fall-32-for-q2

Conserve the old but add some new extra space – Pearl Bank

That is the gist of a plan by owners of the historic Pearl Bank Apartments – and they have won tentative backing from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

The URA sees merit in conserving the horseshoe-shaped project in Outram, at 38 storeys the tallest residential building here when built in 1976.

It is also prepared to consider supporting some increase in gross floor area (GFA), in line with the management committee’s plan.

The owners want a conservation order for the building and propose that the GFA limit be lifted so a new residential block can be added. If they get the approvals, they then hope to entice a developer to rejuvenate the building.

The committee has called an extraordinary general meeting with owners tomorrow to seek consent from subsidiary proprietors.

A URA spokesman said that as the proposal affects the entire development and interests of subsidiary proprietors, all of them must be aware of the plan and agree. But she also said it “welcomes the ground-up initiative by the management committee to conserve Pearl Bank Apartments as there are merits for its conservation”.

“When the distinctive horseshoe-shaped building was completed in 1976, it was the tallest residential building in Singapore and had the highest density for residential development,” she told The Straits Times.

The conservation bid was set in motion last month, when owners representing about 45 per cent of overall share value voted to submit the application for voluntary conservation and redevelopment to the URA. More than 98 per cent were in favour.

The committee said in the letter to owners that it received a positive reply from the URA, as the authority is prepared to consider a maximum 15 per cent increase in GFA over and above the existing approved GFA of 55,102 sq m. This is subject to a cap of 430 units in all, including the 280-unit existing block, it said.

Under the plan, drawn up by the firm of Mr Tan Cheng Siong, who designed the original block, a 27-storey residential block may be built on the area now occupied by a five-storey carpark.

It will have a rooftop garden, a swimming pool and a bridge to the existing block’s 28th-floor common space. The owners will also ask the Singapore Land Authority to extend the 99-year lease.

The bid for conservation and redevelopment comes after three attempts at a collective sale from 2007 to 2011 – with no takers, owing to the high asking price.

http://business.asiaone.com/news/ura-sees-merit-conservation-plan-pearl-bank#sthash.QkLBgTwX.dpuf