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Merchant Square on sale for $73m

A MODEST office development with well-known cosmetics company Estee Lauder as its anchor tenant is up for sale at an indicative price of $73 million.

The price for the 99-year leasehold Merchant Square – located in Merchant Road, opposite Riverside Point – works out to $1,450 per sq ft (psf) of net lettable area.

The latest office property transaction in the vicinity involved the Apollo Centre, sold last December for $1,378 psf.

Merchant Square, completed in 1996, comprises a four-storey office tower integrated with two blocks of conserved shophouses.

CB Richard Ellis, which is marketing the property, said potential buyers can expect substantial rental appreciation in the short to medium term.

Nearly 50 per cent of the property’s leases will expire over the next two years.

Some of the leases were signed at rates as low as $3 to $4 psf, while others are at the current rates of $5 to $5.50 psf.

The Merchant Square vicinity is quiet – a far cry from the other side of the road where Riverside Point and Clarke Quay are located. It is currently 96 per cent occupied.

Estee Lauder takes up 1-1/2 floors, or about 15 per cent, of the space.

Merchant Square has a net lettable area of 50,262 sq ft and sits on a 28,083 sq ft plot. There are two basement carpark levels with 76 lots.

It was originally intended to be a retail project.

Back in 1995, however, owner Jackson International reportedly took advantage of the narrowing gap between office and retail rents to convert three of four shop floors in the development into offices.

Jackson owns one industrial building, but its main business is as a carpet and rugs distributor and manufacturer.

The tender for the property closes on March 12.

Source: The Straits Times 19 Feb 08

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