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Buyers and developers turn attention to River Valley
Move over, Marina Bay and Sentosa Cove, because there is a growing number of luxury home buyers in Singapore who are turning their attention to the River Valley area in District 9, particularly the Robertson Quay stretch.
Already an established residential enclave with several exclusive projects such as Martin Place Residences, Rivergate and Martin 38, its proximity to the Central Business District (CBD) in Raffles Place and the Orchard Road shopping belt makes it a much sought-after address among high-income expatriates.
Over the years, this has led to greater vibrancy in the area with new shops, cafés and restaurants offering alfresco dining and boutique hotels.
“River Valley is popular among investors because it is in a more affordable part of the prime districts, yet enjoying proximity to the CBD, Orchard Road and abundant amenities,” said Ong Teck Hui, National Director, Research & Consultancy at JLL.
“These attributes also help to attract tenants which augurs well for investors as they could lease their units more competitively.”
Not surprisingly, property developers continue to bid aggressively for land sites in River Valley. In June 2016, GuocoLand outbid 12 other bidders for the Martin Modern site at Martin Place, submitting the top bid of $595.1 million, or $1,239 psf per plot ratio (psf ppr).
Launched for sale in July, the 99-year leasehold project is the first large-scale condo there in the past eight years.
To date, 110 out of the 450 units (24 percent) have been sold at an average of $2,009 psf to over $2,500 psf, said a spokesperson for GuocoLand. The developer noted that buyers “appreciate the chic lifestyle at Robertson Quay”.
“The area is also growing and transforming, especially with two new MRT lines and upcoming MRT stations at Great World and Fort Canning, as well as redevelopment of the Kim Seng Road corridor,” said GuocoLand.
In addition, the presence of the nearby Singapore River means that new projects, including the future one located at Jiak Kim Street, will offer waterfront views.
Formerly home to the popular Zouk nightclub, the 99-year leasehold site measuring about 145,123 sq ft was made available for application in June under the reserve list of the first half 2017 Government Land Sales programme.
It could be triggered for sale in the coming months if a developer submits a minimum bid that’s acceptable to the government.
According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority, its prominent river-fronting location offers developers the opportunity to create an iconic landmark of up to 36 storeys high, which could yield more than 500 homes and commercial space on the ground floor. Three conserved warehouses built in 1919 will be integrated with the development.
Ong expects the project, which is about 0.5km away from the upcoming Great World MRT station on the Thomson-East Coast Line, to see strong demand from buyers and investors.
“Its uniqueness is the river and promenade frontage with amenities along the Singapore River and the Havelock area within easy reach. We expect 10 to 14 bidders if there is a tender. (The) top bid is estimated at $1,350 to $1,500 psf ppr.”
Meanwhile, Roxy-Pacific Holdings is expected to launch a much smaller residential project close to Great World MRT station along River Valley Road in Q3 2018. The developer purchased the prime freehold site measuring 28,798 sq ft for $110 million earlier this month.
“The future development will definitely command a premium price and be well sought-after by both foreign property investors and local buyers,” said Mohamed Ismail, CEO of PropNex Realty.
“We foresee there to be around 60 to 80 units and since this is a freehold residential site, the price based on current market conditions would be around $2,800 psf.”
Greater Southern Waterfront project may start sooner
PSA Singapore’s decision to move from Tanjong Pagar Terminal to Pasir Panjang Terminal earlier than expected has sparked speculation of the Greater Southern Waterfront project kicking off faster, reported the Straits Times.
Three times the size of Marina Bay, the 1,000ha development is set to be built on land freed up once the ports in the city, which includes Pasir Panjang and Tanjong Pagar, are relocated to Tuas.
The move allows the government to set aside some land for release earlier, depending on market demand and conditions, said Alice Tan, Knight Frank’s research head.
“With real estate needs changing rapidly along with consumer and business trends, it could make sense for land use planning to evolve more flexibly ahead of changing needs.”
Desmond Sim, CBRE research head for Singapore and South-east Asia, however, believes it is still too early to say if the Greater Southern Waterfront project will start earlier.
“It is a huge project, and there is still a lot of elasticity in land supply today, especially at Marina Bay. So, there is no need to rush and trigger plans for the waterfront area,” he said, adding that both the state planner and PSA would benefit if the land is vacated prior to the end of the lease.
“This would give PSA more buffer time to sort out any teething problems and ensure the handover goes smoothly. For the state planners, getting control of the land earlier… allows them to have more flexibility with planning.”
Tanjong Pagar Terminal’s lease will expire in 2027, while Pasir Panjang’s lease will run out in 2040.
Sim believes that the “prime piece of land” would be best used if it is primarily set aside for mixed developments.
Katong property up for sale
A freehold site in Katong comprising four vacant old houses has been put up for sale by expressions of interest (EOI), said JLL, which is marketing the property on behalf of the executors of the late owner’s estate.
The 22,800 sq ft site is sandwiched between the Amber Skye and 16 @ Amber condominiums along Amber Road, and is close to the future Tanjong Katong MRT station on the Thomson-East Coast Line.
Yong Choon Fah, National Director at JLL, revealed that the vendors expect offers of between $56.6 million and $61 million, which works out to a land rate of about $1,199 to $1,268 psf per plot ratio. The development charge is estimated to be in the region of $20 million.
“We anticipate strong interest from developers and investors, both locally and regionally,” Yong said.
Zoned residential with an allowable gross plot ratio of 2.8 under the 2014 Master Plan, the site could be redeveloped into a high-rise apartment of about 24 to 26 storeys, depending on height controls imposed by the government.
A developer may potentially configure the allowable gross floor area of 63,820 sq ft into a maximum of 84 apartments with an average size of 753 sq ft. Some of the units could offer partial sea views, with the future project commanding an average price of about $2,000 psf, said Yong.
The EOI exercise for the Amber Road property will close on 21 September 2017.
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