Clementi shopping mall put up for sale

Clementi shopping mall put up for sale


A SHOPPING mall directly opposite the Clementi MRT Station has been put on the market by property firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL).


JLL is inviting expressions of interest for CityVibe, a retail and entertainment building known for a McDonald’s fast-food outlet on the first floor and a cinema that used to be upstairs. The cinema has since been replaced by a Party World KTV branch.


The whole building will undergo reconstruction after the Chinese New Year.


But the owner – Mr Victor Boh of Grandview, linked to Wint Thai Trading – is seeking buyers for the three-storey mall, even as it is being upgraded.


The reconstruction was ‘planned some time back but approval was granted only last year’, explained Mr Derek Wong, the senior manager of investments at JLL.


Mr Boh decided to go ahead with the upgrading, expected to be completed in November, but was ‘serious about selling if it can fetch a good price’, added Mr Wong.


Although JLL would not disclose an indicative price, experts said the property could fetch more than $130 million, or over $3,000 per sq ft of gross floor area.


This would give a rental yield of at least 5 per cent, based on JLL’s projection of $8.4 million in gross annual rental income.


The mall, which has about 70 years left on its lease, has a site area of 15,597 sq ft and a net lettable area of about 26,581 sq ft. It is to be rebuilt into a three-storey complex with a rooftop terrace.


‘It is a very good location in the sense that it is directly opposite the MRT station, and everyone that comes down from the station will walk past this building,’ said Mr Wong.


The property is located next to the future Clementi central hub and Clementi bus interchange.




Source: Straits Times

Intrinsic value of area may resolve en bloc woes

Intrinsic value of area may resolve en bloc woes


I WOULD like to ponder the potential influence of intrinsic value of area (IV) as a ‘currency’ to deal with a myriad of problems in collective sales.


Let’s look at various scenarios to resolve the unhappiness of minority owners. Please also refer to my letter, ‘Flaws likely if en bloc choice left to owners’ (ST, Jan 5).


IV forms the foundation on which a conduit for meaningful negotiations from a common baseline is established. It could lead to a happy medium and a win-win situation for owners and developers.


Units of IVs as ‘currency’ offer complete freedom of choice for owners. The options are total cash-out, partial cash-out and total exchange with cash compensation equal to interest derived from total IV value at prevailing borrowing rate for the entire redevelopment period, payable quarterly. Owners receive two house removal allowances (out and back).


For example: In a condo collective sale, the IV was established as $250 per sq ft at launch in 1985. Mr Tan owns a unit of 2,000 sq ft (2,000 IVs). The tendered market price raises the IV to $1,800 per sq ft. Owners can consider the following options:


·  Mr Tan can cash out all IVs at $1,800 x 2,000 and moves out with $3.6 million.


·  He can trade part of his 2,000 IVs for a 1,400 sq ft unit at the same floor level with any view in the redevelopment and pockets $1.08 million ($1,800 x 600) for his balance 600 IVs. If the developers agree, he could reduce his IVs to bargain for a higher floor unit or increase his IVs for cash for a lower floor unit.


·  He can exchange all IVs for a unit of 2,000 sq ft at the same floor level with any view in the redevelopment and receives compensation for house removal and quarterly interest payment in advance. He wins a new home with higher IVs while the developers win profits for redevelopment.


Paul Chan Poh Hoi


Source: Straits Times

Straits Trading aims to redevelop Specialists’ Centre, Hotel Phoenix

Straits Trading aims to redevelop Specialists’ Centre, Hotel Phoenix


Its ‘advanced talks’ with OCBC may see new complex taking shape come year-end


By Joyce Teo


THERE seems to be some progress at last in the much-anticipated redevelopment of the Specialists’ Shopping Centre and Hotel Phoenix complex in Orchard Road.


The Straits Trading Company – which is the object of a buyout offer – announced yesterday that it is in ‘advanced negotiations’ with site owner OCBC Bank regarding redevelopment and management plans.


Construction of a 21-storey complex with shops and a 580-room hotel will begin in the second half of this year, according to OCBC.


The complex will be linked to Far East Organization’s upcoming Orchard Central mall and Lend Lease’s upcoming Somerset Central mall, both nearby.


The announcement yesterday was as much about the complex ownership and development structure put in place in response to amended restrictions that prevent banks from getting involved in property development.


Straits Trading is a holding company with businesses that range from smelting and mining to hotel investment and property development.


As it is the subject of a buyout offer by The Cairns, a privately held investment firm that is part of the Tecity group, it had to inform shareholders of its advanced talks with OCBC.


Tecity is controlled by the family of the late Dr Tan Chin Tuan, a past chairman of OCBC. Dr Tan set up Tecity, which has held a stake in Straits Trading since the 1950s.


The OCBC group also holds a stake, directly and indirectly, amounting to 26.1 per cent.


Dr Tan also started the old 392-room Hotel Phoenix, which closed in August after 35 years.


In yesterday’s statement, Straits Trading said OCBC will appoint a Straits Trading special-purpose vehicle to undertake the construction of the complex.


The proposed arrangements include funding for the vehicle and the construction based on a maximum development cost to be agreed on between Straits Trading and OCBC.


Once the complex has been completed, Straits Trading will sell it to OCBC and then lease it back for three years, with an option to renew the lease for a further three years.


OCBC said it had opted for a sale and leaseback plan because it sees the property investment as one that will bring ‘long-term financial returns’.


Design details for the new complex, which will have a total gross floor area of 50,079.07 sq m and a net retail lettable area of 14,014 sq m, are still being finalised.


Sixty per cent of the gross floor area will be taken up by the hotel, and the remainder by retail shops and a carpark that will accommodate 262 vehicles.


Tange Associates is the architect for the project.


Source: Straits Times

Price of a place in United World College? $200,000

Price of a place in United World College? $200,000


Firms pay this to get employees’ kids a spot; rising expat numbers up pressure on places in international schools


By Ho Ai Li


WITH the demand for places in popular international schools here outstripping supply, United World College (UWC) of South East Asia has emerged as the second school offering places for sale.


Its asking price on what it calls its ‘Nominee Programme’: $200,000.


Another school, the British Tanglin Trust School, was recently reported to be charging companies $165,000 for a place for the children of their employees.


And if places there run out, $65,000 will buy a spot at the head of the wait-list.


Ms Kuljit Hunjan, director of the UWC programme, said the response from companies was good, with the places almost all gone. These companies, which are relocating their businesses here, need the spots quickly for the children of their employees.


She declined to disclose the number of places for sale, but said they made up ‘a very small percentage’ of the school’s places.


The school said it offered guaranteed admission to qualified students if places are reserved by April of that academic year. Those who apply after that get priority on the wait-list.


But students must still meet the school’s entry criteria.


Places bought by companies are not refundable or transferable, except in the case of a sale, merger or acquisition.


The squeeze on places in international schools is the result of a rising expatriate population. The number of foreigners here went up from 798,000 in 2005 to 875,500 in 2006.


At UWC, which has about 2,900 students from kindergarten to Grade 12 at its Dover campus, the wait for a place is anything from a year to four.


To cope with increased demand, it will set up a second campus in Tampines by 2010.


In the meantime, it will set up an interim campus in Ang Mo Kio in September for children from kindergarten to Grade 4.


Already, it has more than 1,800 students registering for entry in August – but only about 550 places are available.


The Australian International School, among the schools expanding their campuses, is erecting a new building on its Lorong Chuan campus, to be ready by May.


But Ms Kim Douglas, its director of marketing and enrolments, said the school had no plans so far to offer its places for sale.


Source: Straits Times

Hotel sector shaping up for bumper takings

Hotel sector shaping up for bumper takings


Operators see room rates rising 25-40% on host of demand and supply factors




(SINGAPORE) A bumper 2008 awaits hotels in Singapore as the Formula One (F1) Grand Prix race comes to town and tourist numbers rise to new highs.


Hotel operators are already on a roll after a good year that saw a record number of tourists checking in, raising room rates by 15-25 per cent in 2007. They expect rates to shoot up another 25-40 per cent as the supply of rooms remain tight.


Last year’s growth was largely spurred by the positive economic climate, hotels said.


‘The hotel industry did very well in 2007, with tremendous growth and increase in tourism arrival,’ said Aiden McAuley, general manager of Swissotel The Stamford. ‘For 2008, we expect an even better year for the tourism industry in Singapore, with big events such as the Singapore Air Show in February and F1 in September.’


Swissotel sees room rates increasing 30-35 per cent this year, while Marina Mandarin Singapore is targeting to up its rates by 25-40 per cent.


Hoteliers are banking on both demand-side and supply-side factors as they hike room rates. Demand will climb with increased corporate and meetings, incentives, conventions & exhibitions (MICE) travellers as well as more tourists drawn here by events such as the F1 race.


‘The trend of growth in corporate meetings, especially, continues to be significant and will be sustained in 2008,’ said Cheryl Ng, Pan Pacific’s public relations manager.


Hotels expect the MICE and corporate traveller segment to account for a big chunk of their takings this year as several major events roll into town.


What is likely to generate the greatest buzz this year is the F1 race. Trackside hotels are expecting a full house during race week, with room rates likely to be at least twice the regular rates, according to industry sources.


‘Comparative to the general rates quoted in the industry, our room rates will increase relatively by about 2-3 times the usual rate during the week of the race,’ said a spokeswoman for Marina Mandarin Singapore.


A sample survey done by DBS Vickers Securities last November showed that room rates could be expected to increase by about 114 per cent year-on-year in 2008 during the race period. For trackside hotels during peak race weekdays, the rates hike will be even greater – up to 311 per cent – the survey showed.


Rates will also be raised by supply-side factors. On the back of surging tourist arrivals, the average occupancy rate has climbed from 74 per cent in 2002 to over 80 per cent in 2006 and 2007. For 2008, it is expected to be close to 90 per cent. This is because growth in room stock has been relatively flat, while the demand for rooms has increased.


The situation, said DBS Vickers, has been exacerbated by significant underinvestment from 2002 to 2006. Room stock as of end-2006 stood at 30,476, relatively unchanged from 30,468 rooms at end-2002.


‘On the basis that Singapore is on track to meet its target of 17 million visitors by 2015 . . . the demand-supply imbalance for hotel rooms is expected to worsen in the next few years, leading to further upside in room rates which bodes well for hotel operators,’ said the research firm in a recent note.


The bulk of future supply is tipped to come on-stream between 2009 and 2010. Upon completion in 2009, the Marina Bay Sands is projected to add around 2,600 rooms to supply, while about 1,800 rooms are expected from the Resorts World at Sentosa when it opens in 2010.


In the near term, however, the industry does face one big challenge – labour shortage.


‘For our industry, we usually have to look overseas to hire some of the staff as well as hiring foreign talents for some of the departments,’ said Swissotel’s Mr McAuley.


Said Marina Mandarin: ‘In the next few years, we will start to face a shortage of manpower in the hospitality industry, fuelled by the integrated resorts coming on stream.’


With other hotels reporting the same problems, high up on hoteliers’ wish-list for 2008 is government action to allow more foreign workers to be hired in the service sector – such as extending the Work Permit scheme to non-traditional sources including China and Indonesia.


Source: Business Times

Office redevelopment worsens space crunch; rents soar

Office redevelopment worsens space crunch; rents soar


CBD supply fell 3.7% y-o-y in Q4 2007 to 19.98m sq ft: DTZ




ONLY 341,180 sq ft of new office supply became available for the whole of last year. At the same time, 1.02 million sq ft of office space was taken away, as a result of buildings undergoing redevelopment or addition and alteration work.


A report by DTZ Debenham Tie Leung shows that existing stock in the central business district (CBD) was 19.98 million sq ft in the final quarter of the year, a decline of 3.7 per cent year-on-year.


Island-wide, the decline of existing stock was marginally less at 1.2 per cent to 56.04 million sq ft.


For non-central areas, existing stock increased by 0.6 per cent to 15.16 million sq ft.


Tight supply has pushed up occupancy levels to 97.5 per cent island-wide, an increase of 2.5 percentage points from the comparable quarter in 2006.


DTZ says that office rents have consequently risen to record levels, with prime office rents in Raffles Place for the quarter 94.1 per cent higher than 12 months previously, at $16.50 psf per month.


High rents prompted companies to consider relocating to lower-cost premises in the CBD fringe, non-central areas and several business parks.


Average monthly gross rents for office buildings in areas like Marina Centre, Alexandra Belt and Tampines Finance Park jumped 81.3 per cent to $14.50 psf per month, 85 per cent to $7.40 psf per month and 62.2 per cent to $7.30 psf per month respectively year-on-year.


While the short-term situation remains challenging, DTZ believes the mid and long-term situation could prove better for office tenants.


DTZ executive director Cheng Siow Ying said: ‘The pace of rental growth is expected to moderate as tenants become more rent-sensitive and more choices of office supply such as transitional offices, disused state properties and business park space are made available to occupiers.’


DTZ is forecasting that about 7 million sq ft of net lettable area could come on stream in the next four years.


In 2007 alone, it estimates that 1.9 million sq ft of gross floor area of office space was generated through the conversion of disused state properties for office space and transitional office sites.


Supply of business park space in the industrial sector also increased in 2007.


Island-wide, existing stock of industrial space increased 4.1 per cent to 297.36 million sq ft.


Of the 7.6 million sq ft of private industrial space that was completed in the first three quarters of 2007, DTZ said that 5 per cent was business park space. DTZ also estimates that 7 per cent of the 20.4 million sq ft potential supply of private industrial space over the next three years could be business park space.


DTZ executive director Chua Wei Lin said: ‘An increased number of business park developments, built-to-suit and high-tech facilities are expected to come on stream, partly due to heightened demand from qualifying office users as the office market tightens.’


Average monthly gross rents for business park/science park/high- tech industrial space recorded increases of 50 per cent year-on-year to hit $3.90 psf per month.


Source: Business Times

Phoenix site to rise again as hotel-retail complex

Phoenix site to rise again as hotel-retail complex


Straits Trading in talks to redevelop site; new complex to roll out in 2011




(SINGAPORE) A new 580-room hotel and a retail complex with a net lettable area of about 150,800 square feet is slated to come up on the Specialists’ Shopping Centre and Hotel Phoenix site in 2011.


OCBC Bank, which owns the land parcel, told BT yesterday that work on the site is likely to start in the second half of 2008 and will take about three years to complete.


The upcoming hotel will occupy about 60 per cent of the complex’s gross floor area and the remaining 40 per cent will be taken up by retail shops. The complex will have about 262 parking lots, OCBC said. Right now, the complex has a gross floor area of about 539,000 sq ft.


OCBC was responding to queries from BT after Straits Trading Company said in a filing to the Singapore Exchange that it is in ‘advanced negotiations’ with the bank to be appointed to develop a hotel and retail complex at the Specialists’ Shopping Centre and Hotel Phoenix site.


Under the deal, a wholly owned special-purpose vehicle (SPV) of Straits Trading will fund and build the complex based on a maximum development cost, which will be agreed on between Straits Trading and OCBC.


Once the complex is completed, Straits Trading will then sell the SPV to OCBC and at the same time lease the complex for a period of three years – with an option to renew for a further three years at an agreed fixed annual rent. The terms of the arrangement are currently being discussed and negotiated, Straits Trading said.


Structuring the deal this way minimises development risk for OCBC. ‘As a bank, we believe that it is inappropriate for us to assume development risk,’ said Koh Ching Ching, head of group corporate communications for OCBC Bank.


OCBC appears to be going ahead with its plans to develop its Specialists’ Shopping Centre and Hotel Phoenix complex – rather than working with its insurance subsidiary Great Eastern Holdings, which owns shopping mall Orchard Emerald just across the road.


OCBC and Great Eastern seemed poised to redevelop the Specialists’ Shopping Centre and Hotel Phoenix complex together with Orchard Emerald just a few months ago, judging by the two companies’ submissions to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).


Data released by URA last October showed that provisional permission for the development of the two properties was given in August 2007.


But yesterday, OCBC said: ‘Orchard Emerald is held by the Great Eastern Group and we believe that Great Eastern is at a very preliminary stage with regard to this potential redevelopment.’


Straits Trading, one of Singapore’s oldest companies, is now seeing a buyout offer from Tecity Group, an investment firm owned by several members of the family that have stakes in OCBC.


Tecity offered on Sunday to buy all Straits Trading shares it did not already own for $5.70 a share – valuing the company at some $1.86 billion.


OCBC, which has direct and indirect interests totalling 26 per cent of the shares in Straits Trading, said on Monday that it has not decided whether to accept the buyout offer. About 20 per cent of the shares are held by Great Eastern.


Analysts said that OCBC’s plan to launch a new hotel in place of the ageing Hotel Phoenix is timely as Singapore will continue to see a shortage of hotel rooms over the next few years due to increasing visitor numbers.


OCBC’s shares shed 14 cents to close at $8.10 yesterday, while shares of Straits Trading rose one cent to close at a one-year high of $5.67.


Source: Business Times

CityVibe put up for sale at $140m

CityVibe put up for sale at $140m




CITYVIBE, a new three-storey retail and entertainment complex opposite Clementi station and next to the future Clementi Central Hub, is for sale through an expression of interest exercise at an asking price said to be $140 million.


This could work out to a 5-5.25 per cent net yield for the property, which will have a net lettable area of 26,581 sq ft, sources say.


Developer Grandview has obtained official approval to redevelop the existing property on the site – a two-storey building that used to house a theatre – into the new complex.


Using construction methods that involve more steel and less concrete, CityVibe will be built between February and November this year, according to Jones Lang LaSalle, which is handling the sale of the property on a completed basis.


JLL is also the marketing agent for leasing of the units in the new building.


Grandview‘s shareholders are Victor Boh See Fook, Eric Cheng Kwee Kiang and Woon Yong Thai.


CityVibe will be developed on a site with a remaining lease of about 70 years. Grandview is believed to have bought the asset a few years ago.


Asked about potential competition that retailers at CityVibe will face from the adjacent Clementi Central Hub when it is completed in 2010, JLL’s regional director and head of investments Lui Seng Fatt said: ‘Clementi Central Hub will be a magnet for the whole area and benefit CityVibe as well.


‘In any case, the location has a very strong catchment not only from the surrounding HDB estate but also from nearby tertiary institutions such as National University of Singapore, Singapore Polytechnic, Ngee Ann Polytechnic and Singapore Institute of Management.’


JLL expects the expression of interest exercise for CityVibe, which closes on Feb 1, to attract local and foreign investors because it offers an investment-grade retail property in the HDB heartland.


The site is zoned for commercial use with a 40:60 split between retail/F&B and entertainment/office use. CityVibe has been exempted from providing carpark lots because there is sufficient parking nearby, JLL said.


Source: Business Times


GIC moves in on British property market

GIC moves in on British property market


Friday • January 11, 2008


Fresh from bailing out Europe’s largest bank UBS with a 11-billion Swiss franc ($14.2-billion) cash injection, the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) has taken a 3-per-cent stake in British Land, The Daily Telegraph reported yesterday.


The investment is worth about £138 million ($388 million), based on British Land’s market capitalisation of £4.6 billion, according to Bloomberg data.


British Land, founded in 1856, is Europe’s largest real-estate company in terms of assets.


It invests in freehold commercial properties including office buildings, retail superstores, shopping centres as well as warehouses and industrial facilities both directly and through joint ventures.


British Land’s portfolio is valued at £15.9 billion, of which £7.4 billion is in office buildings, almost all of which are located in London, according to its website.


GIC’s investment comes after months of speculation that cash-rich investors would swoop in on the beleaguered real estate market, which has seen property shares tumble by 40 per cent in the past year, The Daily Telegraph reported.


British Land’s share price had halved from a high of £17.22 at the end of 2006 on fears of a crash in capital values of office buildings in the heart of London. The shares were hovering at £9.05 at press time yesterday.


British Land was forced to pull the £1.7-billion sale of a stake in its flagship shopping centre Meadowhall last November after the global credit crunch hit, The Daily Telegraph reported.


GIC was said to have been interested in acquiring the stake from British Land earlier in the year.


Instead, it bought a 40-per-cent stake in MetroCentre from Liberty International. GIC also owns 50 per cent of the Westquay shopping centre in Southampton, according to The Daily Telegraph.


GIC, which manages Singapore’s foreign reserves worth more than US$100 billion ($143 billion) was established in 1981 to invest and boost the Republic’s reserves.


Since then, the company has formed ventures and acquired property in Asia, the United States and Europe to build a multi-billion dollar diversified portfolio of real-estate holdings..


Source: Today Newspaper

HDB gave woman $18,000 in error …

HDB gave woman $18,000 in error …


4 years later, ex-stallholder learns she must return sum


Friday • January 11, 2008


Neo Chai Chin



FORMER hawker Mdm Lee Ah Muey, 75, wishes she could turn back time and perhaps reverse a decision that has led to an $18,000 headache.


Four years ago, she gave up her stall selling clothes at Hougang Ave 1 hawker centre. Upgrading works were in the pipeline, and stallholders had three options: They could give up their stalls, move to a temporary market across the road or set up shop at another location.


At her daughter’s urging, Mdm Lee surrendered her stall in October 2003, in return for $18,000 in compensation from the Housing and Development Board (HDB).


Then, last September, an officer from the National Environment Agency (NEA) came knocking.


The officer informed the widowed mother of five that the HDB had made a mistake with the payout and the money had to be returned. According to the board, its earlier attempts to contact her since 2004 had failed.


Earlier this week, the letter of demand from the HDB arrived.


It cited a clause in an agreement Mdm Lee had signed in 1993 that said she would not be entitled to any compensation for the stall.


The letter, dated Monday, also stated that payment had to be made within 21 days, “failing which we have instructions to commence legal action without further reference”.


Ms Gina Lau regrets the advice she gave to her mother, who would have preferred to continue working to keep herself busy. “If HDB had told us earlier, I wouldn’t have asked her to give up the stall,” said the 46-year-old insurance agent.


“We understand a mistake has been made but why did they take so long to find out? And they should give us alternatives, instead of just the letter of demand.”


In response to Today’s queries, however, the HDB said that since 2004, it had sent several letters and gone to Mdm Lee’s home to inform her to return the $18,000, an ex gratia payment given in respect of the loss of her stall. “However, all the attempts to contact Mdm Lee were futile,” said a spokesperson.


The HDB only finally managed to get in touch with her in September last year.


The board also said Mdm Lee had not indicated any difficulty in returning the money when its officers visited her.


“She can contact us for assistance if she has difficulties in returning the money,” it added.


Ms Lau said she and her siblings can put together the $18,000 and they “don’t mind paying” — but there is a twist.


She hopes that the NEA, at the same time, can help secure a new stall for her mother at the refurbished hawker centre, “as my mother’s friends are all there”.


The reason? Mdm Lee still enjoys “selling things”, even though she does not need to work. Her five children earn enough to support her and home is a semi-detached house near Bartley Road paid for by a relative years ago.


“I don’t like to stay at home. I didn’t want to give up the stall in the first place,” said the widow.


According to lawyers whom Today interviewed, money paid out by mistake is claimable by law.


In cases where an innocent mistake is made and “there is an unexpected beneficiary to the mistake, the usual process is for the paying party to explain the situation and to make a claim”, said lawyer Kirpal Singh. But a discount or a longer period for payment may be given, particularly if the “innocent receiving party did not exercise any criminal intent in acquiring the monies in the first place”, he added.


A recent high-profile case of mistaken compensation was the court battle between the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) and SingTel in 2002, when IDA sued SingTel for the return of $388 million. The money was part of a $1.5 billion compensation sum for the early opening of the telco market to competition, and was for a tax that SingTel never had to pay.


The judge ruled that SingTel was entitled to keep the entire sum of IDA’s compensation.


In a case like Mdm Lee’s, Mr Singh said that one possible defence in court is change-of-position.


“If the woman can show she is no longer in possession of the monies or is no longer in a position to return the monies — for example, if she is bankrupt — then the claim would be defeated,” he said.


Source: Today Newspaper