Man arrested for cheating 11 tenants of deposits

Man arrested for cheating 11 tenants of deposits


SINGAPORE: Police have arrested a 46-year-old man for cheating 11 tenants of rental deposits over the last two months.


The suspect, who is unemployed, had apparently approached unsuspecting housing agents to let out a three-room flat at Commonwealth Drive.


To allay the suspicions of the victims, he would hand over copies of his identity card, flat conservancy booklet and a bunch of keys.


He would then disappear after pocketing rental deposits of between S$150 and S$3,000.


Police were alerted to the scam within two weeks of the first incident. They eventually ambushed him at Causeway Point Shopping Centre in Woodlands on Tuesday. A bunch of keys and conservancy booklet were found on him.


The suspect will be charged in court on Thursday. If found guilty, he may face up to seven years in jail and a fine. – CNA/ac


Source: Channel NewsAsia

New Changi Business Park site may see bids of up to S$600m

New Changi Business Park site may see bids of up to S$600m


SINGAPORE: JTC Corporation on Wednesday launched a tender for a mega development site at Changi Business Park, and the 4.7-hectare site is likely to see bids as high as S$600 million.


The winning bidder will have to build an integrated development comprising a business park, retail activities and a hotel.


Changi Business Park has been a hub for businesses that need to stay close to the airport or away from the city centre.


The new site being launched by JTC is at the junction of Changi South Avenues 1 and 2.


The site will yield a total gross floor area of 117,515 square metres, and 60 per cent of the floor space must be used for business park activities. The rest has been set aside for so-called “white” or commercial activities, including retail and hotel space.


Developers can dedicate 45 to 60 per cent within the “white” component to retail activities, with the remaining being set aside for the development of a hotel.


Observers say the winning bidder will need to build a hotel on the site to ease the crunch on hotel rooms in the vicinity.


Chua Yang Liang, head of research and consultancy at Jones Lang LaSalle, said: “I would say the retail component is going to be more limited to just serving the day-to-day needs of the immediate occupants there. Hotel, on the other hand, is probably more welcomed. There is a dearth of hotels in and around that area.”


Some 2,000 hotel rooms could be built on the site, according to analysts that Channel NewsAsia spoke to.


The news comes as the government tries to cater to the rising demand for business park space and amenities in that area.


JTC expects Changi Business Park’s current population of 6,000 to surge to 20,000 by 2011.


Market watchers say demand will continue to remain strong over the next 12 to 24 months.


Donald Han, managing director of Cushman & Wakefield, said as long as there is a huge gap between the prime office rentals in the central business district and the rentals in Changi Business Park, “there will be what we call the preference for huge multi-national corporations to try and average down CBD office rents by moving part of their operations into the Changi Business Park.”


Interested bidders have up till 19 August to submit their proposals for the site. – CNA/ac


Source: Channel NewsAsia

Four companies honoured at second Singapore Green Summit

Four companies honoured at second Singapore Green Summit


SINGAPORE: Four companies were recognised for their eco-friendly practices at the second Singapore Green Summit on Wednesday.


National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan, speaking at the summit, urged companies to put in place more energy-efficient practices.


The Grand Hyatt is one of the award winners. The 37-year-old hotel undertook a range of green initiatives – recycling water for its laundry service, installing motion-activated lights in store rooms and installing solar films in guest rooms to reduce radiated heat.


For the hotel, going green makes a business case as well.


“Grand Hyatt Singapore invested S$3.5 million into a new efficient cooling system that delivers annual saving in utility costs of over S$1.2 million at 2001 utility prices. If you take today’s oil prices, the payback is less than 3 years,” said Mr Mah.


Come June next year, the hotel will roll out what it calls a “tri-generation plant” to produce electricity, heat and cooling more efficiently.


The plant will be developed at S$3.8 million and will be introduced to other Hyatt hotels in other countries.


Ivan Leong, director of engineering at Grand Hyatt Singapore, said: “Whatever heat that is previously exhausted into the atmosphere, we capture it and turn it into useful energy. We are expecting to save – using the current oil price – in the region of about S$800,000 per annum and the carbon footprint reduction (is) about 2500 per tonne, about equivalent of taking out 200 cars off the road for a year.”


Property developer CapitaLand also clinched an award for its green building features, which included rainwater harvesting systems, solar lighting and tree conservation programmes.


Marc-Plan Pte Ltd and Microwave Packaging (S) Pte Ltd are the other two award winners.


Environmental sustainability has been on the international agenda in recent years and many countries, including Singapore, are trying to raise awareness on the impact of climate change.


Minister Mah said Singapore will be significantly affected by global developments pertaining to oil and other scarce resources. So it is important that everyone does his part to make sure the quality of the living environment is not strained. – CNA/ac


Source: Channel NewsAsia

Sino Construction says IPO fully taken up despite weak market sentiment

Sino Construction says IPO fully taken up despite weak market sentiment


Sino Construction has raised nearly S$60 million from its initial public offering (IPO).


The company said the IPO has been fully taken up, despite the current weak market sentiment. Guoco Group was among the major investors.


Sino Construction had offered about 153 million shares at 39 Singapore cents each. Of these, more than 6 million shares were set aside for the public.


Sino Construction plans to use part of the proceeds to establish a concrete mixing base as well as to buy machinery and equipment.


The shares start trading on June 12. – CNA /ls


Source: Channel NewsAsia

Indiabulls Trust falls 7.5% in S’pore debut

Indiabulls Trust falls 7.5% in S’pore debut


SINGAPORE – Indiabulls Properties Investment Trust opened flat at its IPO price of $1.00 but then fell as much as 7.5 per cent in its Singapore market debut on Wednesday.


The fall continues the poor record for listing of new real estate investment trusts, after the last two Reits to list in Singapore, Lippo-Mapletree Indonesia Retail Trust and Saizen Reit, tanked on their debuts last November and are still trading as much as 31 per cent below their IPO price.


Indiabulls Trust, a subsidiary of Indiabulls Real Estate, had raised $353.5 million (US$257 million) after pricing its initial public offer at the lower end of the indicative price band of $1 to $1.10.


In a sign that retail investors’ interest in new listings remains weak, Indiabulls Trust said 1.75 million out of the 13.1 million units alloted to its public offer were not taken up, despite the Reit extending the offer by an extra day last week.


The unsubscribed retail units were transferred to the placement tranche for institutional investors and have been fully taken up, making the offer about 1.3 times subscribed overall, Indiabulls Trust said. — REUTERS


Source: Business Times

Let expat schools expand into vacant properties

Let expat schools expand into vacant properties


I REFER to Monday’s article, ‘Expat schools make room for growing population’.


I suggest the affected schools use existing vacant schools as a temporary measure. One such school is the former Westlake Secondary School in Braddell Hill. It looks in relatively good condition with several buildings to house classes, lots of space and a reasonably good field. I am sure with a little creativity and resourcefulness, the school could be turned into a functional school.


It is such a waste to see buildings like this. I am sure there are many other such schools in other parts of Singapore, not used efficiently and left to decay in land-scarce Singapore.


Frankie Mao


Source: Straits Times

HDB pricing policy limits impact of rising costs

HDB pricing policy limits impact of rising costs

Board trying to contain cost by simplifying some projects


CONSTRUCTION costs for Housing & Development Board (HDB) flats have increased but the impact on buyers is likely to be limited, due to HDB’s pricing policy and cost-control measures.


Speaking to the media at HDB yesterday, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said that ‘construction costs have gone up significantly both for the building of private as well as public housing’. According to him, construction costs may have risen 20 to 30 per cent in general.


‘HDB is trying to contain the cost as much as it can,’ he added. One way is to simplify some of its projects. The government is also withholding some projects to ease pressures on the construction sector.


Asked how much of the increase in construction costs would go to buyers, he said that ‘for new flats, it should not feed directly through to the buyers, but it will probably feed through indirectly as the market price of flats goes up’.


In a forum reply last year, HDB mentioned that the prices of new flats are based on the market prices of resale HDB flats, not on construction costs. ‘In order to provide affordable housing to Singaporean families, new HDB flats are priced below their equivalent market values,’ said the reply.


Mr Mah assured that the prices of public housing will remain affordable.


The squeeze in the construction sector is not likely to delay the integrated resort projects. Progress is ‘on track’, he said.


Mr Mah also expects demand for HDB flats to strengthen if Singapore’s population grows as it has over the last few years. ‘We are monitoring the situation, and as the demand grows, we are also increasing the supply.’


He pointed out, however, that ‘we must also always be careful that we do not overbuild.’


HDB yesterday launched 382 flats for sale at Straits Vista @ Marsiling under the Build-To-Order (BTO) system. The first HDB project in Woodlands town in recent years, Straits Vista forms part of the total BTO supply of 8,400 units planned for this year. The project will comprise 50 three-room units with an indicative price range of $116,000 to $164,000, and 332 four-room units from $184,000 to $257,000.


HDB will receive the United Nations Public Service Award for its home ownership programme on June 23 and Mr Mah was at the agency to celebrate the win. There are more than 800,000 HDB flats in Singapore, housing more than 80 per cent of the resident population. About 95 per cent of HDB households own their homes.


Source: Business Times

New budget for SICC clubhouse gets go-ahead

New budget for SICC clubhouse gets go-ahead




(SINGAPORE) Members of the Singapore Island Country Club (SICC) have voted in favour of a new $90.3 million budget to build a new, ultra-modern clubhouse.


This figure is a shade over 50 per cent more than the original $60 million budget – approved in April 2007 – to build the 25,000 square metre facility at the club’s Upper Thomson Road location.


The management had announced to all 7,500 SICC members last month that it had to revise the budget upwards because of soaring construction costs due to a shortage of building material and manpower. At an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) last night, 159 of 257 members – about 62 per cent – gave the go-ahead for a revised project cost of $81.1 million.


In a separate resolution, 137 out of 263 members who cast their vote said yes to an additional $9.2 million for improvements to architectural and mechanical and engineering works.


When added up, the total estimated cost of the new clubhouse stands at $90.3 million. This far exceeds the 5 per cent contingency that was set aside earlier.


Work on the clubhouse – which will contain a spa, wellness centre and restaurants, among other facilities – began last September and is expected to be ready by mid-2010. In a circular dated May 23, the SICC assured members that the project was still on target to be completed on time.


But not everything went the management’s way at the EGM. Members gave plans for two separate enhancements – to build 30 residential guest suites and 130 more car park lots, costing a total of just over $16.6 million – the thumbs-down.


Just 68 out of 262 members were in favour of the guest suites, while 150 out of 261 members said no to the extended car park space.


One member, speaking on condition of anonymity, told BT that he felt that spending more than $8 million on the guest suites was ‘lavish and unnecessary’ in this current period of belt-tightening.


In all, the total upgrading costs of the clubhouse and other additional enhancements will come up to $97.8 million. When contacted by BT, SICC declined to give its thoughts on the voting results.


Its general committee issued a short press statement yesterday evening which only recapped the various resolutions that were passed by the members.


But even as SICC prepares to dig deeper into its reserves of $420 million – the latest figure as of June 30 this year – its president John Kirkham informed members last Friday that the monthly subscription fees would go up by between $10 and $20 from Aug 1 this year.


‘The additional revenue arising from this fee revision does not cover fully the increase in costs, and the club will continue to operate with a deficit,’ wrote Mr Kirkham.


Besides Upper Thomson Road, SICC has another location at Sime Road. The current transferable membership price is $205,000.


Source: Business Times

Risk of US downturn has faded: Bernanke

Risk of US downturn has faded: Bernanke


WASHINGTON – UNITED States Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the danger that the United States has fallen into a ‘substantial downturn’ appears to have faded – despite a big jump in the unemployment rate.

The central bank chief also stoked expectations for interest rate hikes this year in a speech on Monday, saying the recent rise in oil prices was adding to inflation risks.


Last Friday, fears were rekindled that the US could be headed for a deep recession after the unemployment rate surged and oil prices registered their biggest single-day leap.


But Mr Bernanke on Monday night said the government report showing the jobless rate rising from 5 per cent in April to 5.5 per cent in May – the biggest one-month jump in two decades – was ‘unwelcome’. However, the Fed chief said other forces should ‘provide some offset to the headwinds that still face the economy’.


The Fed’s powerful doses of interest rate cuts, the government’s US$168 billion (S$228.8 billion) stimulus package, further progress in the repair of problems in financial and credit markets, a gradual ebbing of the drag from the deep housing slump and still solid demand from abroad for US exports should help the economy over the remainder of this year, he said.


Although economic activity is ‘likely to be weak’ during the current April-to-June quarter, Mr Bernanke said ‘the risk that the economy has entered a substantial downturn appears to have diminished over the past month or so’.


Source: Straits Times

18th floor of Peninsula Plaza sold for $15m

18th floor of Peninsula Plaza sold for $15m


THE 18th floor of Peninsula Plaza near City Hall has been sold to a Taiwanese trading company for $14.9 million.

The price works out to $1,750 per sq ft (psf) of strata area. This is just below the last sale in the 999-year leasehold building – a single 1,485 sq ft office unit that went for $1,800 psf in January.


It is also well below what the seller Novelty Department Store, part of the Novelty Group, wanted – $17.5 million or $2,050 psf of strata area.


The six units have a total floor of about 8,500 sq ft and were put on the market in early March through an expression of interest exercise.


Rising rents here prompted the buyer, which has not been named, to buy the floor, said marketing agent Shaun Poh, a senior director at DTZ.


The firm will occupy two or three of the units when the tenancies expire in a few months.


The six units are tenanted at about $4 psf, but rents in the building have risen to as much as $8 psf so the firm can look forward to a better return when the time comes to renew the other leases.


The market for strata-office units has remained fairly active, considering how quiet the residential market has become.


While office rent increases have started to moderate, rents in general are still supported by demand from expanding firms and tight supply.


Source: Straits Times