Allco REIT gets go-ahead to build hotel at China Square Central

Allco REIT gets go-ahead to build hotel at China Square Central


SINGAPORE : Allco Commercial REIT has been given the green light to build a 10-storey hotel with about 350 rooms at China Square Central.


The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has granted Allco REIT permission to add 16,000 square metres of gross floor area to the development in the central business district.


The development currently consists of a 15-storey office block and 38 conservation shop house units.


Allco REIT has also been granted permission to convert some existing car parks into office space.


The URA approval is valid for six months starting from the end of June. – CNA/ms


Source: Channel NewsAsia

Millennium & Copthorne New Zealand completes Auckland hotel deal

Millennium & Copthorne New Zealand completes Auckland hotel deal


SINGAPORE : Millennium & Copthorne Hotels New Zealand said it has completed its purchase of the Copthorne Hotel Auckland Harbourcity.


But in a filing to the Singapore Exchange, it said the price of the deal was confidential.


Millennium & Copthorne is funding the purchase with cash and a new loan facility.


The area around the Copthorne Hotel Auckland Harbourcity is now a focal point for entertainment and access to the Waitemata Harbour.


Millennium & Copthorne Hotels and Resorts now has three owned or leased properties in Auckland.


It also recently clinched a short-term management agreement for the Metropolis Hotel Auckland. – CNA/ms


Source: Channel NewsAsia

Suntec REIT secures S$400m to refinance its bridging loans

Suntec REIT secures S$400m to refinance its bridging loans


SINGAPORE: Suntec REIT has secured a S$400 million loan to refinance its bridging loans.


It will be carried out through an unsecured club loan facility from a panel of banks.


The facility is for a period of three years.


The loan will help Suntec refinance an outstanding loan after its acquisition of one third of the One Raffles Quay building in the central business district.


With this new deal, Suntec REIT will not need additional refinancing until financial year 2009. – CNA/vm


Source: Channel NewsAsia

URA puts up Ophir-Rochor Road for sale by public tender

URA puts up Ophir-Rochor Road for sale by public tender


SINGAPORE: The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has launched a white site for sale in the Ophir Rochor corridor.


The announcement did not come as a surprise, as the government had already indicated it will be sold under the confirmed list of the land sales programme.


The 2.7 hectare site is expected to be a mixed use cluster, acting as a connector between the existing financial district and the historical centres of Kampong Glam and Beach road.


The site has a gross permissible floor area of 160,000 square metres.


The winning bidder has to set aside 40 per cent of the site for office use, with at least another 15 per cent for hotel related activities.


In the future, the site will also have direct basement access to the new East-West rail line, through the upcoming Bugis Interchange MRT station.


Analysts are expecting a land cost of up to 1.5 billion Singapore dollars, translating to between 850 Singapore dollars and 900 Singapore dollars per square foot of gross floor area.


Rents in the area are expected to be between 8 Singapore dollars and 10 Singapore dollars per square foot.


The URA has said it will continue to release more land in the Ophir Rochor area over the next five to 10 years in tandem with market demand. – CNA/vm


Source: Channel NewsAsia

HDB launches 2 new BTO housing projects in Punggol and Sengkang

HDB launches 2 new BTO housing projects in Punggol and Sengkang


SINGAPORE : Two new HDB housing projects have been launched in Punggol and Sengkang under the Build-To-Order System on Monday.


Altogether, the two projects, Punggol Breeze and Fernvale Residence will offer 1,587 Premium flats, comprising 55 three-room, 1,222 four-room and 310 five-room flats.


As an average indicator, the price for a four-room flat at Punggol Breeze ranges from S$223,000 to S$278,000, while a similar flat at Fernvale Residence could cost between S$207,000 and S$275,000.


Source: Channel NewsAsia

Office property market slowing in Q2

Office property market slowing in Q2


SINGAPORE : Singapore’s office property sector market appears to be cooling a little.


According to property consultant DTZ, the average office occupancy rate for the second quarter of this year saw a dip of 0.2 percentage point.


Office rental prices have also been flat – suggesting that the market is resistant to rising prices.


According to DTZ, the average office occupancy rate in the second quarter dipped to 96.9 per cent.


It said the slide was spurred by tenants seeking cheaper locations when their leases expired.


Chua Chor Hoon, Senior Director, Research, DTZ, said, “Our second quarter figures show that it has eased very slightly, by 0.2 percentage point, which reflects the office occupier’s resistance to the high rentals in the CBD, and also partly (because) of the slower economy. Companies are now more cautious and they are taking a longer time to think about expansion and renewal.”


Despite the overall dip, areas just outside the CDB saw higher occupancy rates – with the Novena and HarbourFront areas hitting 99 per cent.


At the same time, office rentals climbed by 1.1 per cent – with locations like Raffles Place now going for an average of S$19 per square foot a month.


The report showed that businesses have been looking to alternative locations like business parks, and temporary office locations to tide them over until new office locations open up in 2010.


At the moment, business park rentals cost about half, or a third of what can be found in the CBD.


Some companies may find it more cost-effective to stay in these alternative locations, but DTZ believes there will still be demand when the new supply comes on-stream.


Ms Chua said, “There will be new demand to take on the new office space, and even if the economy slows down this year and next year, we are likely to see it coming back in 2010. That’s when it also coincides with a few major events and developments that are going to take place, like the integrated resorts, and the Youth Olympics, and that is going to give the economy a boost.”


The DTZ report also showed that industrial sector demand remained stable – despite a weakening manufacturing sector – due to foreign investment. – CNA/ms


Source: Channel NewsAsia

Katong Mall sold to Tuan Sing Group for S$219m

Katong Mall sold to Tuan Sing Group for S$219m


SINGAPORE : Katong Mall has been sold in a collective transaction to property developer Tuan Sing Group for S$219 million.


Including a premium of S$24.5 million to top up the site’s lease, the price works out to about S$865 per square foot of gross floor area


The tender for the 99-year leasehold commercial development in the Marine Parade area was launched in May.


Katong Mall, located at the junction of East Coast Road and Joo Chiat Road, is currently a four-storey building with three basements.


Under the Master Plan, the 78,158 square foot site is zoned for commercial use.


It has a gross plot ratio of up to 3.6 with the allowable building height subject to evaluation.


Outline planning permission has been obtained for either a full commercial development or a mixed development with residential and commercial space.


The new development could yield some 100 residential units of 1,200 square feet each, and 185 commercial or retail units with an average size of 400 square feet. – CNA/ms


Source: Channel NewsAsia

HDB launches 2 new BTO projects in Punggol & Sengkang

HDB launches 2 new BTO projects in Punggol & Sengkang


HDB is launching two new housing projects in Punggol and Sengkang under the Build-To-Order, or BTO, System today.


Over 1500 premium 3, 4 and 5-room flats will be offered under the projects.


With these two new projects, HDB has launched a total of around 4,500 units in 7 BTO projects in towns like Punggol, Sengkang, Yishun and Woodlands in the first half of this year.


The development in Punggol, called Punggol Breeze, is a Premium Contract comprising 778 units of 4-room and 186 units of 5-room flats.


Fernvale Residence in Sengkang meanwhle offers 55 units of 3-room, 444 units of 4-room and 124 units of 5-room Premium flats.


Source: 938Live

Prime land at Ophir Road/Rochor Road up for sale

Prime land at Ophir Road/Rochor Road up for sale

A white site at Ophir Road and Rochor Road has been launched for sale by public tender today.


Releasing details of the tender, the Urban Redevelopment Authority said the 2.7 hectare prime site is envisioned to be an exciting mixed use cluster.


It will comprise integrated developments with office, hotel, retail, entertainment and residential uses.


The site will also have direct basement level connections to the new Bugis

Interchange MRT station.


New developments there are supposed to inject vibrancy and form a new office cluster for financial and business institutions.


The office cluster at the white site will complement the existing financial district at Raffles Place and Marina Bay.


It will have a maximum permissible gross floor area, or GFA, of about 160 thousand square metres.


But in line with the planning visions for the Ophir-Rochor Corridor, the proposed development must have at least 40 percent of the total GFA for office use.


At least 15 percent of the total GFA must be set aside for hotel use with the remaining for office, hotel or other complementary commercial and residential uses.


Another condition imposed is that the development proposal for the site will be subject to review by a Design Advisory Panel as part of the subsequent planning approval process.


URA says this is to ensure a well designed development of appropriate quality and standard.


The land parcel has been launched for sale under the confirmed list of the Government Land Sales Programme.


Closing date for the tender is 3 December.


Source: 938Live

Raising service quality at Housing Board the IT way

Raising service quality at Housing Board the IT way


is responsible for providing homes for more than 80 per cent of the population in Singapore, needs to be able to store a huge amount of data and have constant access to this data. To address this challenge, HDB decided to look for an information management solution that would meet its needs when it decided to upgrade its IT infrastructure a few years ago.


‘Not only did the new system have to satisfy our needs then, it also had to be able to grow together with us,’ HDB’s director of information services, Leong Chin Yew, told BizIT. The paperwork associated with some 2.6 million customers and 880,000 dwelling units, as well as rising customer expectations, is a constant strain on HDB’s limited budget and resources, he said.


‘HDB is continuously seeking new solutions to cope with these demands and bring the level of customer service across all branch offices to greater heights.’


Among the many products that HDB evaluated, IBM’s content management solutions were able to meet its criteria. ‘It also integrated well with our existing investment which translated to a lower cost of adoption,’ he said.


A new business model to address these challenges was piloted at the Jurong West Branch Office with the launch of Pioneer Service Centre in November 2004. ‘The new model maximised HDB’s resources and provided a cost effective way to deliver better customer services.’


The HDB official noted that IT, coupled with business process re-engineering, has played a critical role in enabling this new business model. ‘This model has been rolled out progressively to other branch offices.’


Mr Leong noted that file-less operations is just one of the four key elements of the new branch office business model. The others are business process management, customer relationship management strategy and branch office IT consolidation.


Talking about the file-less operations, the HDB official said that the implementation of content management solutions to convert hardcopy records into electronic format eliminated the need to store hardcopies of lessees and tenants files in the branch office.


Before this solution was implemented, the filing room in each branch office took up, on average, about one-sixth of the office space. With all files becoming electronic, paperwork is also reduced and this allows HDB to provide a better service. ‘Customers enjoy a higher quality of service with a faster turnaround time.’


Giving an example, Mr Leong pointed out that it takes seconds instead of minutes for staff to retrieve the required documents while responding to a customer’s query.


‘Branch office processes are no longer dependant on the availability of physical files. Furthermore, it allows multiple accesses to the documents, for example, headquarters sections and branch office staff can access the same document at the same time.’


He added that security and access control are also in place. This has resulted in service improvements where customers can approach any branch office with their queries instead of being restricted to their managing branch office. With the conversion to the file-less operations, the paper-based workflow processes were also re-engineered and automated.


New application systems were developed and existing systems enhanced to support the electronic workflow, Mr Leong said. ‘The electronic workflow enables the branch offices to bridge the geographical distance between different HDB offices to work virtually as one. It also enables the tracking of business transactions, thereby ensuring that they are completed in a timely manner, enhancing customer service.’


The new business model is also enabled by extending and speeding up the implementation of the CRM (customer relationship management) initiatives, Mr Leong noted. ‘One of the key initiatives is the consolidation of various customer hotlines into a single toll-free branch office service number and the setting up of the virtual call centre.’


He added that the implementation of a customer service portal that rides on VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) technology presents HDB customer service officers with a holistic view of the customer to enhance customer service. ‘Another key initiative is the implementation of Web services that integrate HDB services across multiple government agencies and private sectors.’


Apart from this, HDB has also implemented additional and enhanced services via existing service channels ranging from service counters, the Internet, automated telephone enquiry to self-service kiosks.


The HDB official added that the IT consolidation exercise in which servers were relocated from branch offices to the HDB’s Data Centre has also resulted in a more reliable and secure IT infrastructure.


With its success, the system has been implemented at all HDB branch offices. With all these improvements, there is better customer satisfaction from faster turnaround time, for example, approval for some online applications can be obtained instantly, Mr Leong said.


He added that customers need only call a single hotline for branch office services since customer service officers from any branch office will be able to serve them. Also, access to branch office transactions is available through the Internet via HDB’s e-Services sub-portal 24 hours, seven days a week.


Finally, it has resulted in higher staff productivity by removing manual and paper-based processes and this has resulted in higher staff morale due to improved processes and job worth.


This project was the winner of 2005 MIS Asia IT Excellence – Best Business Enabler (Government) Category.


The award was conferred in recognition of HDB’s excellence in planning, management and the deployment of technology with the emphasis on Strategic IT management to enable this new business model for branch office operations.


Source: Business Times