March 7, 2007

Historic Beach Road site could fetch more than $1b

Hotel and offices will be built on former NCO Club, army camp location

By Joyce Teo, Property Correspondent

STRICT CRITERIA: The successful tenderer for the plot will have to set aside at least 40 per cent for office space and a minimum of 30 per cent for hotel space. The rest of the site, bounded by Beach Road, Bras Basah Road, Nicoll Highway and Middle Road, can be used for other purposes like retail.

A LARGE plot of commercial land in one of Singapore's hottest locations, estimated to be worth $1 billion to $1.4 billion, was put up for sale by the Government yesterday.

The 99-year leasehold 3.5ha site houses the historic former Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO) Club and other military buildings at the old Beach Road Camp. These military buildings must be conserved.

A major hotel, possibly with a historical flavour, is set to be built on the site, along with prime office space. Property consultants say it is likely to attract interest from major developers and business consortia.

Located between Suntec Convention Centre, Raffles City and the Bugis entertainment district, the site will be linked to the upcoming Esplanade MRT station. It is also near City Hall MRT station.

'The land parcel is envisaged to be developed as a high-quality mixed-use development featuring prime office space and hotel rooms that can add to the critical mass of offices and hotels in the surrounding area,' said the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in its statement yesterday.

Knight Frank's director of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak sees bids at $950 million to $1.1 billion, or around $650 per sq ft per plot ratio.

Savills Singapore's director of business development and marketing Ku Swee Yong is more bullish, expecting bids at $1.3 billion to $1.4 billion, or about $900 psf.

The expected pricing takes into account the complexity of developing around the historic buildings, they said.

'There are definitely challenges in designing a hotel within a conservation framework,' said DP Architects director Tai Lee Siang.

But this offers a unique chance to create a signature Singapore-style hotel, he said. 'The historical background is what savvy and global travellers are looking for these days instead of the basic accommodation in typical hotels.'

Market watchers say the site could attract interest from large developers such as CapitaLand and the Lippo group, as well as foreign players keen on tie-ups.

Developers can build it to a gross floor area of 146,827 sq m but they have to adhere to strict guidelines.

The development would help ease the tight office supply that is expected to last as long as 2010. As well, new hotel rooms will cater to an expected rise in tourist arrivals.

The URA will first select acceptable design concepts. Then, it will look at price proposals from these bidders. The site will be awarded to the highest bidder with an acceptable design. The tender closes on July 25.

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