Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tanjong Pagar site expected to fetch over $1b

THE landscape around Tanjong Pagar MRT Station is set to be transformed over the next few years when a new development is built, rising to about 60 storeys.

The project, opposite International Plaza, will be built on a 'white' site launched by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) yesterday and which is expected to fetch over $1 billion.

The 99-year leasehold site can generate nearly 1.7 million square feet maximum gross floor area (GFA), of which at least 60 per cent must be for offices and another 10 per cent for hotel use. Most market watchers expect the successful developer to put the balance 30 per cent GFA to residential use, cashing in on strong demand for inner-city apartments. Sales of apartments will help part-finance the development, say property consultants.

The apartments are expected to be built on the 1.5 hectare site's front portion (facing Wallich Street and Maxwell Chambers), which can have a maximum height of 280 metres above mean sea level (AMSL). This is currently the maximum height control allowed in Singapore and will optimise views of the apartments.

Caveats of new residential launches in the vicinity such as Altez and 76 Shenton range from $1,900 to $2,300 psf, from sales in the past six months, says CB Richard Ellis executive director Li Hiaw Ho.

Cushman & Wakefield Singapore managing director Donald Han estimates the residential component can generate between 400 and 540 apartments, assuming an average unit size of 1,200 sq ft and 900 sq ft respectively.

The project is expected to generate about 846,000 sq ft net lettable area of offices - based on the minimum 60 per cent office component stipulated, says CBRE.

As at the second quarter of this year, the average monthly rental of premium-grade office space in the Tanjong Pagar area was about $6.80 psf, compared with $8.37 psf in the Marina Bay area. During the office market peak in Q2/Q3 2008, the figures were $12.50 psf and $19 psf respectively.

'Office rents have bottomed and the overall pipeline supply will taper off after 2012. Hence the development will benefit from an upswing in office rents, barring any slowdown or decline in the major economies,' says Chua Chor Hoon, head of Southeast Asia research at DTZ.

Cushman's Mr Han also observed that on the back of strong take-up for new office projects, confidence and appetite for commercial-dominated developments in the financial district is slowly building up among developers.

He estimates that the project's minimum hotel component - 10 per cent of GFA - would be enough for a 315 to 320-room hotel.

DTZ's Ms Chua expects the site to draw only a handful of bidders, mainly bigger developers experienced with office projects. Mr Han predicts 4-6 bids, most of them in the $650-$720 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr) range. This range of unit land price works out to absolute land bids of about $1.1 billion-$1.2 billion.

Some analysts reckon bids could be pushed even higher, to around $800 psf ppr or $1.4 billion.

'Strong interest is expected from the 'usual suspects' of listed developers and foreign funds either individually or on a joint- venture basis. As this is a big-ticket site, we expect participation by foreign developers like Hongkong Land and Cheung Kong,' says Mr Han.

While a chunk of the site has a maximum building height of 280 metres AMSL, the rear portion (facing Peck Seah Street) can be built up to 200 metres AMSL. Part of the site (mostly above the MRT station box) has a maximum six-storey height.

Analysts say the project will contribute to the rejuvenation of the Tanjong Pagar area and inject new office space in the old CBD - helping to offset some of the loss of stock from the conversion of ageing office blocks into apartments.

The Tanjong Pagar site is being offered under the Government's Confirmed List for the second half of 2010. Its tender will close on Nov 16. 'Selection of the successful tenderer will be based on the tendered land price only,' URA said.

Source: Business Times, 31 Jul 2010

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