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Newton area growing as a hub for hybrid offices

NEWTON is shaping up as a centre for hybrid offices, with another company, The Ascott Group, moving to the neighbourhood.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) also said yesterday that it would release not one, but two, transitional office sites between Scotts Road and Anthony Road for sale.

Ascott, which is officed at the former Temasek Tower, could not say how much space has been decanted in the move but did say that its new offices in Newton will accommodate some 50 to 80 employees, including trainers, trainees and staff who will support the training activities at its Ascott Centre for Excellence there.

A spokesman for Ascott said that it leased the former Anthony Road Girls’ School in mid-2007 on a 3+3+3 year lease from the Singapore Land Authority, and started moving in from the end of last year after refurbishing it.

URA offered its first transitional office site in Newton in August 2007 too. This was sold to Hwa Hong Corporation and KOP Capital for $37 million – $219 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr).

While the two new sites now being offered are equally well located, Knight Frank director (research and consultancy) Nicholas Mak believes bidding ‘will be more cautious this time’.

Both parcels are to be sold on short-term leases of 15 years, and Knight Frank estimates the first of the new sites, Parcel A,

which can yield a maximum gross floor area (GFA) of 140,189 sq ft, could see bids of between $14 million and $18.2 million, or a unit land price of $100-$130 psf ppr.

Parcel B, which can yield a maximum GFA of 145,915.4 sq ft, could see bids of between $14.6 million and $19 million, representing the same unit price range of $100-$130 psf ppr.

Mr Mak noted that current monthly gross rents for the Scotts Road area are comparatively low at between $6 and $8 psf.

He also highlighted that the proposed transitional office developments are expected to be completed by the middle of next year – and about 2.6 million sq ft of new office space is expected to be supplied to the market in 2009.

Savills Singapore director of commercial services June Chua believes that there could still be an attractive profit margin for any developer, but adds that the developer, or possibly even contractor, would have to secure a tenant first, so that there is a minimal ‘void period’, during which the landlord has to secure a tenant.

She also said that the target rental would have to be around $7 psf per month.

Source: Business Times 29 Feb 08

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