STRONG SMELL OF DEATH IN THIS SMALL ESTATE

STRONG SMELL OF DEATH IN THIS SMALL ESTATE

 

FIRST, a former resident was fatally stabbed at their hawker centre on Thursday afternoon.

 

By Celine Lim and Chong Shin Yen

 

 

11 March 2008

 

FIRST, a former resident was fatally stabbed at their hawker centre on Thursday afternoon.

 

Half an hour later, the suspect was shot dead by the police nearby.

 

That night, the police found a decomposing body in a unit in one of the blocks.

 

The next morning, yet another decomposing body was discovered in the same block.

 

The tiny Jalan Kukoh estate has seen its fair share of drama in the past week. There are 11 blocks, tucked away at the top of a hill just outside Chinatown.

 

And last Friday, the only hawker centre in the neighbourhood – at Block 1 – was abuzz with talk about the stabbing incident.

 

Here, they know each other mostly only by nicknames. Conversations take place in Hokkien.

 

A tanned and wiry man was holding court at one of the tables. He’s 45 but didn’t want to give his name – or nickname.

 

It was noon and there were three empty beer bottles on the table.

 

He said he was a close friend of Mr Tan Ah Chang, the man who was stabbed. Mr Tan, 52, an odd-job worker, was also known as Eh Gao (Hokkien for mute).

 

The nickname dated back to the 1970s, when Mr Tan was apparently a gang member.

 

‘He didn’t speak much, that was why,’ the friend explained.

 

‘But he had learnt to talk more over the years, so we started calling him Ang Gong Siao (tattoo crazy).’

 

Mr Tan had many tattoos, including an eagle on his left arm and a dragon on his right. They ran all the way down to his fingers.

 

An hour later, a couple in their 40s joined us at the table.

 

The man is known as Gek Mata (fake policeman) because he talks like a cop. His female companion is Sharon and they live together.

 

Gek Mata said: ‘You should talk to Dua Liap Ni. She was drinking at the next table when the stabbing happened.’

 

SORRY, WHO?

 

Gek Mata cupped his hands and brought them to his chest.

 

‘You don’t understand? It means big breasts in Hokkien,’ he said.

 

‘Other men like her because of that, but not me. She’s fat and she’s missing some of her front teeth.’

 

They heard from a stall owner that she left with the police right after the stabbing to assist in investigations.

 

The friend said: ‘I think the police took Aids away too. I haven’t seen him all day.’

 

Aids is a middle-aged man. He doesn’t have the disease, but earned the nickname because his skin is always peeling.

 

Many of the regulars have been staying away from the hawker centre, which has more than 20 stalls.

 

‘Police case, they don’t want to get involved,’ the friend added.

 

CHEAP BEER – ON CREDIT

 

Still, the drinks stalls did a roaring trade. Residents sat around chatting and knocking back bottles of beer. Most days, the drinking sessions go on till late at night.

 

The beer is cheap – $5 a bottle and you can buy on credit – and the company is free.

 

Most of the regulars are men in their 40s to 60s, but there are a few women too. Many of them have been living in the estate for years.

 

Some, like Mr Tan, have moved away, but they show up almost daily.

 

Gek Mata and Sharon are the newer residents of the estate. They moved in only a few weeks ago and are a daily fixture at the hawker centre.

 

Gek Mata already has a list of complaints: neighbours quarrel almost every day and just last week, someone in their block threw an oven down.

 

He said: ‘Once, a used sanitary pad landed right in front of me when I walked past one of the blocks. I don’t know if I was ‘suay’ (Hokkien for unlucky) or lucky that it didn’t land right on my head.’

 

The conversation switches back to the stabbing.

 

Mr Tan’s backpack is still at the hawker centre. Someone stole a peek. There was a knife inside.

 

‘Ang Gong Siao must have been attacked without warning. If not, he could have defended himself,’ his friend said.

 

Isn’t it strange for him to be carrying a knife?

 

‘He’s a plumber. It’s his work tool,’ he said.

 

They think that Mr Tan had fallen out with his killer, Lim Bock Song, 43, over money.

 

Lim, who is unemployed, was shot dead at Outram MRT Station, after he charged aggressively at a police officer with a knife. He lived with two friends in a one-room flat at Block 11.

 

Last September, a 34-year-old man was stabbed at the void deck of that block. Two men who lived in the estate were later arrested and charged in court.

 

We passed a resident on one of the floors. Did he know the dead guy?

 

Without batting an eyelid, he replied: ‘Which one are you talking about? The stabbing case or the decomposing ones?’

 

Last Thursday night, even as police officers were gathering evidence after the stabbing, they received complaints of a foul smell coming from a unit on the 12th floor.

 

They found the decomposing body of a man in his 40s, who lived down the corridor from Lim.

 

And at 11am the next day, the police were back. Another decomposing body – of a man in his 50s – was found in a unit two floors down.

 

On most days, you can stand at the staircase landing on the upper floors of the block and catch a nice breeze.

 

But not that day.

 

Each time the wind blew, it brought with it the sour stench of rotting flesh.

 

Source: The New Paper

Forgotten sister of Chek Jawa gets protection

Forgotten sister of Chek Jawa gets protection

 

Permits needed to visit Pulau Sekudu

 

WHY would Singapore, a bustling port city dependent on ships passing through, stop ships from anchoring at a secluded island off Pulau Ubin?

 

11 March 2008

 

WHY would Singapore, a bustling port city dependent on ships passing through, stop ships from anchoring at a secluded island off Pulau Ubin?

 

The island, called Pulau Sekudu, looks nondescript from afar.

 

However, it is teeming with marine wildlife because it is very close to the marine-protected area of Chek Jawa.

 

While Chek Jawa is known for its natural gems, Sekudu, its neglected sister, has been the victim of repeated illegal fishing, camping and harvesting of marine creatures such as oysters and clams.

 

Between July and September 2007, there were more than 20 landings on Pulau Sekudu, Mr Robert Teo said. He is the assistant director in charge of Pulau Ubin at the National Parks Board (NParks).

 

NParks has been managing the area since January 2002, implementing rules that restrict access to Chek Jawa’s inter-tidal habitats. That protection is extended to Sekudu because it is found within the 100-ha Chek Jawa Wetlands.

 

PERMIT NEEDED

 

Since 1 Oct last year, vessels entering these wetlands have to get a permit from NParks.

 

Recently, The New Paper went to Chek Jawa to see what could be found there and at Sekudu.

 

Sea anemones, sand dollars, moon snails, crabs and tubeworms were spotted in the area.

 

In addition to the marine creatures, interesting plants can be seen, such as the seashore nutmeg (a species that can no longer be found on mainland), mangrove plants and many types of seagrass.

 

Explaining the reason for the permit system, Mr Teo said: ‘Chek Jawa Wetlands, which includes Pulau Sekudu, is an important and unique area for the conservation of Singapore‘s marine life.

 

‘Thus, NParks decided to manage public access to minimise damage to its fragile marine habitat.’

 

NParks approves permit applications only for activities such as research and coastal cleanups. These are assessed on a case-by-case basis.

 

It will not be easy for members of the public to sneak into the wetlands either.

 

NParks staff members and security guards stationed at Chek Jawa Wetlands are equipped with powerful binoculars to scan the area for illegal activities.

 

Mr Teo said: ‘They will record the registration numbers of any boats landing or engaging in poaching.

 

‘NParks will then check with the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore for the particulars of the boat owners for enforcement action.’

 

NParks has also started regular boat patrol and relies on volunteers to act as its eyes and ears.

 

The Police Coast Guard will tell boats without permits to leave Sekudu’s shores.

 

Since the rules were implemented, there have been 27 cases of illegal landings. Warning letters are issued to first-time offenders.

 

There have also been four cases of poaching.

 

In the case of repeat offenders, NParks will carry out thorough investigations before taking action in accordance with the Parks and Trees Act.

 

These regulations are welcomed by nature lovers.

 

Botanist Joseph Lai said: ‘It’s very good for the boating and fishing community to know where to fish and anchor, and where not to.

 

‘This gives people a chance to exercise their own stewardship over nature areas.’

 

Those who are granted permits should also exercise caution when on the island.

 

Mr Teo said: ‘For applications that are approved, we seek the cooperation of permit holders to observe the Parks and Trees Act and Parks and Trees Regulations and avoid trampling on marine life while on the island.’

 

Source: The New Paper

All eyes on govt land tenders this month

All eyes on govt land tenders this month

 

$500m site above Serangoon MRT, 3 suburban housing plots on offer

 

By KALPANA RASHIWALA

 

AMID the current quiet market, all eyes will be on four 99-year leasehold suburban Government Land Sale site tenders that close this month.

 

They comprise three private residential sites including one for landed housing, and a ‘white’ site above the Serangoon Circle Line MRT station that could potentially be worth more than $500 million.

 

The action kicks off today, with the closing of a tender for a landed housing parcel in Westwood Avenue, Jurong West, big enough for about 50-60 landed homes.

 

Cushman & Wakefield managing director Donald Han reckons the 151,759 sq ft plot could fetch about $200-250 psf of land area. The plot is next to the landed housing area at Westville.

 

Those looking for clues on how developers read the suburban mass-market residential sector will have to train their eyes on tender closings for two plots this month, both boasting scenic locations.

 

One is at West Coast Crescent next to Blue Horizon condo and faces West Coast Park and overlooks the sea. The other is in Yishun, fronting Lower Seletar Reservoir and close to Singapore Orchid Country Club/Golf Course. It is also near Khatib MRT station.

 

Property consultants polled by BT in January, when the tenders for the two sites were launched, indicated bids of about $200-300 psf per plot ratio (ppr) for the Yishun plot.

 

Mr Han reckons the winning bid will be closer to $300 psf ppr, reflecting a breakeven cost of about $550-600 psf and a possible average selling price of $700-800 psf for the new condo.

 

As for the West Coast plot, consultants earlier indicated a wide range of bids – $260-400 psf ppr.

 

Mr Han estimates the plot’s value at the higher end of that range, around $380-400 psf ppr as ‘it is near parks, recreational facilities and the sea’, translating to selling prices of about $850-950 psf for a new condo on the site, on a project-average basis.

 

He expects the Yishun and West Coast condo sites to attract at least five bids each, while the landed housing plot at Westwood Avenue could draw more bids, about five to eight.

 

‘Developers may be willing to look at smaller profit margins because these are sure-sell markets, given pent-up demand in the mass market. However, buyers are still price-sensitive,’ he said.

 

While some analysts and consultants still feel the mass-market will be relatively resilient this year, City Developments executive chairman Kwek Leng Beng recently offered a different perspective.

 

‘The mass market will do well, but selectively. It’s not going to be what you’ve seen before. . . people queuing up,’ he said, noting that the Housing & Development Board provides a credible alternative to mass- market private housing.

 

The Serangoon Central site was quietly launched in December by the Land Transport Authority.

 

The 269,180 sq ft plot can be developed into an estimated maximum potential gross floor area (GFA) of about 850,000 sq ft excluding a bus interchange that the successful bidder will have to build. The developer will be reimbursed the cost of building the interchange.

 

The site can be developed into any combination of commercial, hotel, residential, and sports and recreational use.

 

Cushman’s Mr Han said that assuming 30-40 per cent of the GFA is for retail use and the rest for residential, the plot could be worth about $400-450 psf ppr, or a total of around $340-380 million.

 

‘So the breakeven cost would be about $700 psf for the residential component and the developer might be able to achieve selling prices of say $900-1,000 psf on average. The retail component will break even at about $1,200-1,400 psf,’ he reckons.

 

However, other property insiders say that assuming an all-retail development, which would be the ‘highest and best use’ of the site, land bids could come in closer to the $600-700 psf ppr mark (about $500 million to $600 million in total).

 

‘Suburban malls are generally valued at about $1,800-2,000 psf of net lettable area currently,’ one player pointed out.

 

However, another major player countered that sentiment today is subdued, and said the challenge of securing bank finance for such a big project with a likely total investment of about $1 billion or more will put a dampener on bullish bidding for this site.

 

The action and market watching continues next month, with at least two interesting offerings at state land tenders – a private condo site at Toa Payoh Lorong2/3, and a 1.56-hectare site in Choa Chu Kang for residential development that comes with the existing Ten Mile Junction mall.

 

Source: Business Times

URA sets aside more land for offices

URA sets aside more land for offices

 

(SINGAPORE) Singapore will provide more land for offices as part of a strategy to strengthen its position as an Asian financial centre, the government’s real estate planning agency said yesterday.

 

‘The new growth area set aside for the seamless extension of the existing financial district … will be more than twice the size of London’s Canary Wharf,’ the city-state’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said in a statement.

 

‘Over a span of more than 15 years, the development of the 85-hectare site identified for extension of the existing financial district will see the addition of around 2.82 million square metres of office space,’ it added.

 

Demand for office space in Singapore has grown strongly in the past three years, spurred by the growth in financial services, in particular private banking.

 

According to URA data, office rents soared 56 per cent last year as demand for office space rose by an average of 260,000 square metres per annum over the last three years – a 60 per cent increase from the historical average of 160,000 square metres a year.

 

Foreign direct investment in Singapore‘s real estate was S$14.4 billion in 2007, compared to S$6.7 billion in 2006, the agency said.

 

Singapore is currently developing the Marina Bay Financial Centre on reclaimed land south of the existing central business district. It has also offered sites to the east and west of the business district.

 

The city-state, with a population of 4.6 million, has expanded its land area by more than 10 per cent since independence in 1965 through reclamation from the sea.

 

Developers involved in the Marina Bay project include Hong Kong developers Cheung Kong and Hongkong Land, as well as Singapore-based Keppel Land\. \– Reuters

 

Source: Business Times

Ophir-Rochor corridor site to be marketed in France

Ophir-Rochor corridor site to be marketed in France

 

By ARTHUR SIM

 

THE Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) will market the first site in the new Ophir-Rochor corridor at the ‘Marche International des Professionals de L’Immobilier’ (MIPIM), a premier international property event in Cannes, France.

 

The site will be launched for sale under the Confirmed List of the Government Land Sales Programme in June.

 

In a statement yesterday, URA said the 2.74-hectare parcel is at Rochor Road/Ophir Road, adjacent to Parkview Square.

 

It also said the developer will have to include a minimum amount of office and hotel space to cater to the growth of Singapore‘s financial and business services sector and tourism.

 

Depending on market demand, URA will release more redevelopment sites in the Ophir-Rochor area over the next five to 10 years. URA will be exhibiting plans for development of the Ophir-Rochor corridor at MIPIM Cannes.

 

A team led by URA, and comprising public sector agencies and private companies, will showcase investment opportunities, including key recent and upcoming developments, at the Singapore Pavilion.

 

‘With some of the most prominent upcoming developments and strategic sale sites that Singapore has to offer in Marina Bay and Ophir-Rochor, I am confident we will continue to attract international investors,’ said URA’s director of land administration Choy Chan Pong.

 

Besides plans for the Ophir-Rochor corridor, URA will exhibit plans for the extension of the existing financial district at Marina Bay.

 

As part of the plan to rejuvenate and grow the existing Central Business District, URA has released more plans for the Ophir-Rochor corridor to complement the Marina Bay area, featuring mixed-use developments with offices, hotels, residential and other complementary facilities in a park-like environment.

 

It is expected to be developed over the next 10 to 15 years.

 

Source: Business Times

Investors eye real estate after tough 2007

Investors eye real estate after tough 2007

 

Asian property and niche sectors are attracting assets

 

(LONDON) Many investors in alternative assets plan to invest more in real estate after poor returns from the sector in 2007, a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) survey showed yesterday.

 

John Forbes, UK real estate leader at PwC, said some investors had been lured back to UK property after prices fell sharply.

 

Growth areas such as Asian property and niche sectors such as student housing were also attracting assets, he said.

 

PwC’s global survey, which polled 226 institutional investors and alternative investment providers in the fourth quarter of 2007, showed a gross 41 per cent of investors plan to increase real estate allocations over the next three years.

 

That compares with 40 per cent for private equity, 35 per cent for commodities and 33 per cent for hedge funds.

 

However, 21 per cent of investors planned to reduce their allocations to real estate, compared with 16 per cent for hedge funds, 15 per cent for commodities and 11 per cent for private equity.

 

Forbes said: ‘UK real estate capital values are down perhaps 20 to 25 per cent from the top of the market. For some types of investors that will discourage them.

 

‘But for opportunistic investors, who have been out of the UK market for the past two to three years, the UK is starting to look cheap so they are coming back.’

 

UK commercial property delivered a total return, which combines rental income and capital growth, of -3.4 per cent in 2007, as the credit crisis bit and investor sentiment soured.

 

The survey also showed less than half of respondents were satisfied with the performance of hedge funds, while nearly a fifth were dissatisfied.

 

That compares with private equity, where two- thirds were satisfied and only 7 per cent dissatisfied, or real estate, where 57 per cent were happy with performance and 11 per cent unhappy.

 

The survey follows a strong year for hedge funds. According to Credit Suisse/Tremont they returned 12.56 per cent in 2007.

 

Rob Mellor, UK financial services tax leader at PwC, said hedge funds had to become better at managing investor expectations and explaining how they achieved returns, especially when conditions turn.

 

Some may have feared the credit crisis would hit hedge fund returns harder than it eventually did, he said\. \– Reuters

 

Source: Business Times

Rising market pressures may trigger third wave of credit crisis

Rising market pressures may trigger third wave of credit crisis

 

Nervous investors hanging on to pronouncements of central bankers

 

(LONDON) Tight money markets and tumbling stocks and the US dollar are expected to increase worries for investors this week as pressure mounts on central banks facing what looks like the third wave of a global credit crisis.

 

Last week, money markets tightened to levels not seen since December, when year-end funding problems pushed lending costs higher across the board.

 

In response, the Federal Reserve unveiled new measures to ease liquidity strains on Friday – injecting US$200 billion into the banking system – and said that it was in close consultation with central bank counterparts.

 

However, the Fed failed to lift the mood much. Investors, keen to see if any further plan is in the works to prevent a financial market seizure, will scrutinise words from key central bankers including Fed officials this week.

 

‘It’s another round of the credit crisis. Some markets are getting worse than January this time,’ said Jesper Fischer-Nielsen, interest rate strategist at Danske Bank in Copenhagen. ‘There is fear that something dramatic will happen and that fear is feeding itself. Central banks have shown great resolve to try to solve the problems (on money markets) and I’m sure they will do again.’

 

Philipp Hildebrand, vice-chairman of the Swiss National Bank, warned last week that the world might be in a new, more dangerous phase of the crisis.

 

If that is the case, the latest wave is the third one.

 

The first round began in August when interbank lending dried up as banks realised they did not know which was dangerously exposed to the meltdown in the US sub-prime mortgage market.

 

Then, late last year, pressure intensified again in the money markets – after some of the world’s biggest banks began writing off colossal sums of money – prompting top central banks to inject billions of dollars into the system.

 

Renewed problems in the credit market – including fears that US mortgage lender Thornburg might go bankrupt and acute cash flow problems at a Dutch fund – and concerns over slowing world growth led to a sell-off in stocks last week.

 

World stocks, as measured by MSCI, fell more than 3 per cent on the week while the dollar lost more than one per cent to hit record lows against a basket of six major currencies at one point last week.

 

Also reflecting investor jitters, two-year US Treasury yields hit a four-year low below 1.5 per cent as investors flocked to government bonds.

 

The cost of corporate bond insurance hit record high levels on Friday and parts of the debt market are also getting hit.

 

‘A funding freeze by lenders, that appears already in progress, could cause first-round casualties in Spain, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Greece and Austria, countries collectively identified as the euro zone liability group,’ a UBS note said.

 

The G-10 policymakers came up with a cash injection plan late last year, with the top five central banks injecting liquidity into banks.

 

However, after weeks of calm, stress is building up again in money markets.

 

‘The level of financial stress is . . . likely to continue to fuel speculation of more immediate central bank action either in the form of increased liquidity injections or an early rate cut,’ Goldman Sachs said in a note to clients\. \– Reuters

 

Source: Business Times

Opportunistic investors recoil from Asia property

Opportunistic investors recoil from Asia property

 

They see more scope for picking up cheaper properties in US, Europe; loans in Japan tougher

 

(HONG KONG) Opportunistic investors are pulling back from Asian property because they see more scope for picking up distressed assets in the United States and Europe, and loans are harder to get in Japan, one of their favourite markets.

 

Hedge funds have stopped dabbling in property in the region, fund managers say. And although private equity players will continue to develop property in India and China, they are more likely to buy buildings on the cheap in the West than in Asia.

 

‘Six months ago, it was quite straightforward. We didn’t have to answer questions about why to invest in Asia,’ Guy Cawthra, Asia fund strategist at Morley Fund Managers, told a recent conference in Hong Kong. ‘Now investors say ‘we might not want to invest in Asia; we want to invest in Europe, the UK and the US‘.’

 

In the wake of the 1997-98 economic crisis, Asia – in particular, Japan and South Korea – drew a raft of investment from funds run by the likes of Morgan Stanley, General Electric and private equity firms such as Carlyle Group .

 

Many made fat profits on a revival by Asian property markets, which are now mostly strong because of a shortage of new supply and still buoyant economies.

 

Researchers at consultants Jones Lang LaSalle forecast Tokyo office prices will steady this year after a 28 per cent jump in 2007, while Seoul, Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai are still on the up.

 

Better opportunities now lie elsewhere for investors who think they can spot a market trough and ride a recovery.

 

Because of tight credit and a worsening economy, US commercial real estate values could fall by 20 per cent in the next five years from their 2007 peak, JPMorgan analysts forecast, causing losses of about US$120 billion, including on commercial mortgage-backed securities.

 

London office values have dropped 12 per cent from a peak in the middle of last year, and they will be pressured further by forecasts of a 10 per cent decline in rental values through 2009.

 

‘I think a lot of investors will return to home markets,’ said Bart Coenraads, head of real estate at Fortis Investments. ‘Some will try to buy distressed core and refinance it. They could make good returns.’

 

Last year, total direct investment in the Asia-Pacific region jumped 27 per cent to US$121 billion – a sixth of the global total – with about half invested in Japan, which has been popular for its rock-bottom interest rates.

 

However, Japanese banks are getting cold feet on property, analysts say, giving loans worth only 60-70 per cent of a building’s value, compared to 80-90 per cent a couple of years ago.

 

Lower debt gearing is likely to crimp returns for equity investors. But having spent years setting up teams, private equity funds are unlikely to withdraw completely from Asia, said Tim Bellman, global head of strategy for ING Real Estate.

 

Many, such as Morgan Stanley Real Estate Funds, no longer see themselves as ‘opportunistic’, and are in Asia for the long haul.

 

‘Funds have been raised and platforms are set up, and they don’t want to unwind them overnight,’ Mr Bellman said. ‘But at the margin, opportunistic investors who looked at Asia are finding those opportunities back home.’

 

Morgan Stanley is building housing in China and taking stakes in Indian developers in a high-risk, high-return strategy. But the US investment bank also bought the Tokyo headquarters of Citigroup last month, indicating it is still interested in ‘core’ assets that are low risk but give modest returns.- Reuters

 

Source: Business Times

URA says bonjour to major developers

URA says bonjour to major developers

 

Tuesday • March 11, 2008

 

Neo Chai Chin

 

New Ophir-Rochor land parcel marketed at premier property event in Cannes

 

chaichin@…

 

A PRIME land parcel enveloping Parkview Square in Bugis may soon draw more top developers to Singapore, just as the Beach Road and Marina View parcels did last year.

 

The 2.74 ha site, along Rochor and Ophir Roads, will comprise office and hotel space, said the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), which is pitching it to an international audience in France over the next three days.

 

The site could be worth $1.2 to $1.48 billion, according to property analysts.

 

Marketing it at a premier property event — the annual Marche International des Professionals de L’Immobilier in Cannes — is “good branding and also a move to see if there are large investment funds interested in developing Singapore’s streetscape”, said Mr Ku Swee Yong of Savills Singapore.

 

The land parcel, which will be up for sale in June, is the first in the new Ophir-Rochor corridor to be launched under the Government’s land sale programme.

 

Plans were earlier announced for this vibrant growth area — comprising financial and business institutions, hotels and residential facilities in a park-like setting — that will complement the financial district at Marina Bay and Raffles Place.

 

More land parcels in the Ophir-Rochor area will be released for development over the next five to 10 years “in tandem with market demand”, said the URA.

 

About 40 per cent of the first development could be commercial space, while 60 per cent of it could be devoted to hotel and retail space, said Mr Ku, Savills’ director of marketing and business development.

 

It may consist of a 500-room hotel on par with the nearby Intercontinental, with retail outlets on the lower levels and 1.2 million to 1.4 million sq ft of office or commercial space, said Mr Donald Han, managing director of Cushman and Wakefield.

 

Mr Han deemed it as attractive as last year’s Beach Road site, which was clinched for $1.69 billion by a three-nation consortium led by City Developments.

 

While South Beach at Beach Road is “more prestigious” as it straddles Suntec City and Raffles City, the Ophir-Rochor site is “equally attractive” for being on the fringe of the Central Business District, its good waterfront views and proximity to Bugis MRT, he said.

 

Marketing it at the present time would also give new investors time to do due diligence of the Singapore market before the parcel is launched for sale, he said.

 

URA has been marketing prime sites more aggressively to international players for the past three to four years, said a spokesperson.

 

Last year, major investors like Dubai‘s Istithmar Group, the United States-based El-Ad Group and Macquarie Global Property Advisors (MGPA) ventured into Singapore‘s land tender market. Istithmar and El-Ad were part of South Beach‘s winning consortium, while MGPA, partly owned by Australia‘s Macquarie Group, clinched the Marina View plots.

 

Mr Ku said that he would like to see more developments in Singapore by renowned companies from Japan and Europe to “give a better international flavour to our landscape”.

 

Source: TodayOnline

CBD – Twice as big in 15 years

CBD – Twice as big in 15 years

 

Tuesday • March 11, 2008

 

Singapore will double the size of its financial district over the next 15 years, after demand for offices surged last year with the city-state seeking to become a centre for business in Asia.

 

The city will add 2.82 million sq m of office space, the equivalent of Hong Kong‘s Central district, the government’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

 

Occupancy of Singapore offices rose to a record last year, as banks including Standard Chartered and Deutsche Bank added staff. Demand for offices increased to 260,000 sq m a year between 2005 and 2007, exceeding the average of 160,000 sq m between 1995 and 2004, the URA said today.

 

“To continue attracting investments, we are planning to ensure we have sufficient land and infrastructure to support our robust economic growth,” URA director of land administration Choy Chan Pong said in the statement.

 

New developments to be added over the next few years include the Marina Bay Financial Centre, located in an area that will include Singapore‘s first casino-resort built by Las Vegas Sands, the world’s biggest gaming operator.

 

The government will sell more land in the Marina Bay area over the next five to six years to meet demand, the URA said today. — Bloomberg

 

Source: TodayOnline