Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Serangoon Central to get mega shopping mall

$1.3b centre, about twice the size of suburban malls here, is expected to be completed by 2010

IT IS full steam ahead for a $1.3 billion mega shopping mall being built at Serangoon Central - in defiance of the current gloomy times

Construction firm Low Keng Huat was yesterday awarded a $295 million contract to build the mall and the firm is grabbing the contract with both hands.

Its chief financial officer, Mr Chin Yeok Yuen, said private contracts of such a scale are ‘hard to come by’ these days as many developers have delayed projects in light of the slowdown.

Developer Gold Ridge, a special purpose vehicle made up of mainly institutional investors from the United States and Europe, is confident of the project’s long-term success.

Ms Victoria Sharpe, the chief executive of Pramerica Real Estate Investors (Asia) which is advising the investors, said the mall has tremendous potential to be developed into an iconic retail centre serving Singapore’s north-east.

It is also strategically located in the heart of Serangoon with its large residential population and numerous schools.

The yet-to-be-named six-storey mall - which sits above Serangoon MRT station and the upcoming Serangoon Circle Line station - will be integrated with the stations and a new bus interchange.

It will boast a 24-hour zone with shops, food and beverage outlets, a 10-screen cineplex, a 60,000 sq ft hypermarket and a 10,000 sq ft gourmet supermarket. Also, SAA Architects has conceptualised a ‘green necklace’ along the exterior of the eco-friendly building. This involves a series of lush green spaces. There will also be a landscaped sky terrace and an internal roof garden.

A new 16-bay bus interchange will take up part of the mall’s ground floor. The mall will have a total net lettable area of slightly more than 618,000 sq ft. That will make it bigger than Ang Mo Kio Hub, a suburban mall that is also linked to a bus interchange and an MRT station.

‘Suburban malls are usually about 300,000 to 400,000 sq ft in size. This one is big and will be more exciting as it can accommodate more concepts, activities and experiences,’ said property consultancy Knight Frank’s head of retail, Ms Sherene Sng.

Gold Ridge plans to include a department store that may occupy up to 60,000 sq ft, as well as a 500-seat food court. There will be more than 400 specialty shops. The firm is investing $1.3 billion, including land cost, in the project. It had successfully tendered for the site in March this year, with a bid of $800.9 million or $850 per sq ft per plot ratio.

The existing shopping centre portfolio of Pramerica Real Estate Investors (Asia) includes Tiong Bahru Plaza, Century Square and upcoming Tampines 1.

The weak economic outlook is expected to hit retail sales but suburban malls with high traffic may fare better than some prime downtown malls. Said Ms Sng: ‘Suburban mall rents will remain fairly resilient, going ahead. If they were to fall, the decline will not be as great as the fall in rents in prime areas.’

Builder Low Keng Huat yesterday said it had been awarded the construction contract for Serangoon Central Mall, which comprises the mall and bus interchange. The project is expected to be completed by October 2010.

The total value of the firm’s ongoing construction projects, including Serangoon Central mall, is about $900 million as of yesterday, it said in its statement.

Guthrie Consultancy Services is the project manager, retail consultant and marketing manager for the mall. The mall will eventually be held by two or possibly several funds managed by Pramerica.

Coming up
WHAT’S planned for the mall:

More than 400 specialty shops

A 10-screen cineplex

A hypermarket, a gourmet supermarket and a department store

A 500-seat food court

A 24-hour zone with shops as well as food and beverage outlets

A new 16-bay bus interchange will take up a portion of the ground floor of the shopping centre

Source: Straits Times - 26 Nov 2008