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Modest bidding for CBD office site as caution sinks in

Top offer of $779.42 psf ppr half of next- door site’s recent bid

(SINGAPORE) The new-found caution surrounding the Singapore office market is now spilling over to the Central Business District.

Reflecting this, a site at Marina View diagonally behind One Shenton yesterday attracted a top bid from Macquarie Global Property Advisors (MGPA) of $779.42 psf per plot ratio – only about half of the group’s winning bid in September for the site next door.

Knight Frank managing director Tan Tiong Cheng acknowledged that office investors have turned cautious. ‘The outcome of the sub-prime episode may have an impact on demand for office space in Singapore, while the government has expressly stated recently it will boost supply of office land in the next few years to alleviate the current shortage,’ he said.

Another reason for the lower bid for the latest site – Marina View Land Parcel B – is that it has a minimum hotel component of at least 25 per cent of the site’s maximum gross floor area, property consultants said. ‘Hotel land values are a lot lower than office values,’ said Mr Tan.

‘The latest tender outcome is also a knee jerk-reaction to what has been happening lately in the US – the sub-prime crisis being worse than initially thought and big banks being affected. Banks are prime users of office space.’

The only other bid at yesterday’s tender came from units of CapitaLand, at $898 million or $734.52 psf ppr.

BT understands that CapitaLand was to team up with Thai tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi’s privately held vehicle Pacific Coast Assets, had its bid been successful.

By most counts, the top bid at yesterday’s tender by MGPA unit MGP Kimi of $952.89 million or $779 psf ppr was lower than had been predicted.

CB Richard Ellis executive director Li Hiaw Ho had expected Marina View Land Parcel B to fetch about $1,200 to $1,300 psf ppr, lower than the $1,409 psf ppr that an MGPA unit paid in September for the next door Marina View Land Parcel A, considering the minimum hotel component for the latest plot. ‘There is a chance that the state’s reserve price may not have been met and that the latest site may not be awarded,’ Mr Li suggests.

However, other property consultants argued that the plot will be awarded.

Mr Tan said his firm, Knight Frank, predicted in late July projected that the site would attract bids of $1.1 billion to $1.3 billion, or $900-1,060 psf ppr. ‘Taking the mid point of $1.2 billion, the top bid was about 20 per cent lower than our projection. To me that is within range, and I would expect the site to be awarded,’ Mr Tan said. ‘The price is still substantially higher than other sites sold in the Marina Bay area in recent years.’

Jones Lang LaSalle’s Asia Capital Markets head Stuart Crow said: ‘The price seems fair going by recent land bids and taking into account the hotel component for this site.’

MGPA’s top bid at yesterday’s tender also ‘reinforces the foreign investor interest in the Singapore property market fundamentals’, he added. ‘In my view, the site will be awarded.’

Mr Crow estimates that MGPA’s bid price for Parcel B yesterday reflects a break-even cost of about $2,200 to $2,300 psf for the office component of a potential development on the site. As for the hotel component, market watchers estimate the break-even cost could be about $700,000 to $800,000 per room.

Marina View Land Parcel B has a site area of about 0.9 hectare and can be developed into a maximum gross floor area (GFA) of about 1.22 million sq ft, of which at least 60 per cent must be for offices and at least another 25 per cent for hotel use.


Source: Business Times 14 Nov 07

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