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China developer buys Sentosa Cove plot

Firm pays $216m, plans ultra-posh marina enclave with jumbo units

A CHINA developer has ventured overseas for the first time and paid a higher-than-expected $216 million for a landed plot on Pearl Island in Sentosa Cove.

The deal is another indication that, while Singapore developers are taking a cautious approach in the wake of the sub-prime crisis, foreign firms are happy to muscle in.

Ximeng Land beat six other bidders, which were not named, to the 14,840 sq m plot, which has a maximum gross floor area (GFA) of 11,872 sq m and can accommodate 19 villas.

It paid about $1,350 per sq ft (psf) for the plot. This is more than double the prices chalked up on the nearby Sandy Island but still below those paid for some individual seafront bungalow plots, which have sold for as much as $1,696 psf.

In September, a landed plot was sold to a developer for $1,099 psf of potential GFA.

Ximeng Land is owned by the majority shareholders of Ximeng Asset Holdings, the parent company of luxury developer Beijing Ximeng Real Estate. The company has built projects in Beijing and two other mainland cities, Yantai and Jinan.

The foreign factor also cropped up late last month when Malaysia’s YTL Corp bought Westwood Apartments in Orchard Boulevard for $435 million. The $2,525 psf per plot ratio (psf ppr) price was a record for a collective sale.

‘These foreign developers have displayed great confidence in the strength of the property market in Singapore,’ said Knight Frank’s director of research and consultancy, Mr Nicholas Mak.

While up to 19 villa units with private berths can be built on the Pearl Island plot, Ximeng said it might build just nine large bungalows, which it expects to fetch record prices.

Property consultants said the nine houses would each be at least 14,000 sq ft, a size not yet available in Sentosa Cove. For the project to be viable, each would need to sell for at least $30 million.

A Ximeng spokesman said it was attracted by the success of Sentosa Cove and its own success in Singapore will provide a springboard for expansion in the region and beyond.

It wants to develop Pearl Island into an ‘ultra-luxurious, world-class marina enclave for the privileged few’ and therefore plans to retain an internationally renowned architect for the project.

Pearl Island is the last of five island sites in Sentosa Cove, all slated for landed homes. There is just one condo plot left – the tender closes next Wednesday; the results are expected to come out early next year – and two individual sea-facing bungalow sites.

Prices at the 99-year leasehold Sentosa Cove have climbed significantly since sales began in 2003, when the property market was still in a slump.

Last month, two seafront bungalow plots were sold at a high of $1,696 psf, said master planner Sentosa Cove.

Some bungalow owners are now asking $1,800 to $2,000 psf when some freehold good-class bungalows sell for only half that price.


Source: The Straits Times 6 Dec 07

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