Monday, November 23, 2009

Bugis office block sold to private school

A DULL-LOOKING office block just behind Bugis Junction has been sold and will be renovated for use as a campus for private school ERC Institute.

ERC Holdings, which owns the school, bought nearly all of the 999-year leasehold building in North Bridge Road for $46 million earlier this month from City Developments. With 60 units, or 38,534 sq ft, ERC now owns 91.3 per cent of the strata-titled development.

It plans to spend between $3.5 million and $5 million to renovate the six-storey block, said ERC Holdings chief executive Andy Ong.

The price, which works out to about $1,194 per sq ft based on strata area, is considered fair as such space is hard to find in the city, said Mr Shaun Poh of DTZ, who sealed the deal. Mr Ong said he took 15 months to find the space.

Currently, ERC Institute, which has 2,000 students, operates out of two sites: a campus in River Valley Road and an office unit in Robinson Centre. Its most popular programme covers entrepreneurship.

Come September next year, when its long-term lease at Robinson Centre ends, ERC Holdings will give up that space and move to the Bugis building, tentatively named ERC Complex.

‘By 2012, we hope to get 6,000 to 8,000 students, of which 3,000 to 4,000 will be in Singapore,’ said Mr Ong.

ERC has started operations elsewhere in the region, including in Indonesia.

After the renovation, the new building will offer better facilities than the existing campuses, said Mr Ong.

It will have at least two cafes serving a variety of cuisines, a library, a student rest area and a recreation area.

About 30 to 40 state-of-the-art classrooms will be spread over three levels.

One floor will be reserved for the corporate office of ERC Holdings.

The ground floor has retail space, currently taken by a hair salon and a noodle shop. This Fashion has just moved out.

Nearby, another small office block, Premier Centre, could also be transformed. Budget hotel operator Fragrance Group bought it in July for $18 million, or $1,076 per sq ft, from a Hong Leong Group unit, and might turn it into a hotel.

Source: Straits Times, 23 Nov 2009

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