One-North Eden — first condo launch in the area in 14 years
Edgeprop, 16 Apr 2021, Fri 6:00am
By Cecilia Chow and Charlene Chin
SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - When Yoichi Kaga first visited the site of One-North Eden, he liked it very much. “It is surrounded by rich greenery, and there are many tech companies and R&D centres in the area,” says the managing director of TID, a joint venture between two major real estate firms, Singapore’s Hong Leong Holdings and Japan’s Mitsui Fudosan.
Kaga had arrived in Singapore 10 months ago — in late June after the “circuit breaker” was lifted. Prior to that, he was based in Mitsui Fudosan’s Hong Kong office.
An avid Star Wars fan, he also visited the Sandcrawler Building, which was inspired by the fictional transport vehicle in the original 1977 Star Wars movie. The eight-storey building was sold to US private equity group Blackstone for $175.8 million ($726 psf) in January.
The Sandcrawler Building is certainly a landmark in one-north, a master-planned cluster for R&D and technology companies. One-north has been positioned by master developer JTC Corp as “Southeast Asia’s Silicon Valley”. Plans are underway for the “greater one-north”, encompassing Science Park 1 & 2 as well as JTC’s Launchpad, a hub for start-ups.
One-north is also connected to National University Hospital and National University of Singapore. Other educational institutions in the vicinity include the Insead business school, Essec Business School, Fairfield Methodist Primary and Secondary Schools, Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), Anglo-Chinese Junior College as well as United World College of South East Asia (Dover Campus). Even Nanyang Technological University’s (NTU’s) alumni club and executive centre is located in one-north. The Ministry of Education Building is located nearby in Buona Vista.
Tech companies such as Grab and Razer have based their corporate headquarters in one-north, along with multinational firms such as British consumer goods company Unilever, whose Four Acres Singapore Campus is in Nepal Park. American consumer goods company Procter & Gamble’s P&G Innovation Centre is at Biopolis.
Strong demand for residential units
“There is currently a strong demand for residential units in the one-north area,” says Kaga in a press statement. “The launch of this project comes at an opportune time. It has been 14 years since a residential project was built here and private residential options are limited.”
Indeed, the last two projects that were launched in one-north were One-North Residences and The Rochester Residences. The 405-unit One-North Residences, by UOL Group and Kheng Leong, was launched in March 2007 at an average price of $900 psf, fully sold and completed in 2009. Recent transactions have ranged from $815,000 ($1,520 psf) for a 592 sq ft, one-bedroom unit to $3 million ($1,124 psf) for a 2,669 sq ft penthouse, according to caveats lodged from last October to March to date. Most units changed hands in the $1,400–1,500 psf range.
The Rochester Residences by United Engineers was launched just four months later in July 2007. The 366-unit The Rochester Residences is part of a mixed-use development that includes The Rochester Mall and a 271-room-cum-serviced apartment tower, Park Avenue Rochester. The project is located just across the road from Buona Vista MRT Station and The Star Vista Mall.
The Rochester Residences was therefore launched at a premium to One-North Residences, at an average price of $1,300 psf. Completed in 2011, units have changed hands at prices ranging from $1.28 million ($1,486 psf) for an 861 sq ft, one-bedroom unit to $2.6 million ($1,396 psf) for a 1,862 sq ft, three-bedroom unit, based on caveats lodged from last October to March to date.
It is not surprising that One-North Eden’s site was so hotly contested when it was put up for sale by tender two years ago. The tender closed with nine bids in September 2019. TID won the 99-year leasehold site with a top bid of $155.7 million or $1,001 psf per plot ratio (ppr).
One-North Eden is located within a 10-minute walk of two MRT stations, namely Buona Vista MRT Interchange Station (for the East-West and Circle Lines) and one-north MRT Station (Circle Line). Bounded by One-North Gateway and Slim Barracks Rise, One-North Eden will provide its residents with easy access to F&B and retail amenities at The Star Vista, Rochester Mall, and the upcoming One Holland Village.
Designed to appeal to owner-occupiers
The project is designed by P&T Consultants in collaboration with Japanese firm Hoshino Architects, with Singapore-based SuMisura as the interior designer for the units in the development. SuMisura designed the sales gallery as well as one of the two showflats at One-North Eden.
The project sits on a land area of 62,202 sq ft, and contains just 165 units in two residential blocks of 13 and 15 storeys. The first storey of the development has six commercial units designated for F&B use and one unit for retail use, which could serve as a gourmet grocer’s.
Apartment sizes start from 517 sq ft for a one-bedroom-plus-study, to 1,410 sq ft for a four-bedroom premium. One-bedroom-plus-study units make up just 24 units (14.6%) in the development; while two-bedroom and two-bedroom-plus-study units, with sizes of 689 to 797 sq ft, account for 70 units (42%). Another 39 units (23.6%) are three-bedroom compact and premium units, with sizes from 947 to 1,119 sq ft. The balance 32 units are four-bedroom compact and premium units, with sizes from 1,259 to 1,410 sq ft.
According to TID, apartments are priced from $995,000 ($1,925 psf) for a 517 sq ft one-bedroom-plus-study unit; $1.288 million ($1,869 psf) for a two-bedder of 689 sq ft; $1.768 million ($1,867 psf) for a 947 sq ft three-bedder; and $2.288 million ($1,817 psf) for a 1,259 sq ft four-bedder.
Due to its strategic location and unit sizes, Kaga expects One-North Eden to appeal to owner-occupiers. Besides its proximity to MRT stations, the development is also within a 15-minute drive to the CBD and Orchard Road. Located in District 5 in the Rest of Central Region, one-north was conceived with the work-live-play lifestyle in mind.
Given the campus-style office buildings, park-like environment and surrounding greenery, “the atmosphere at One-North is very cosy”, remarks Kaga. One-North Eden is thus designed to attract “the new generation of tech-savvy professionals and young families”, he says.
Amenities at One-North Eden will cater to a post-pandemic lifestyle and units are designed for the work-from-home era. For instance, function rooms in the development can double as meeting rooms or work areas. Facial recognition systems installed at the lobby, basement, and the common areas on the first and second storeys allow for hands-free access to the premises.
Units at One-North Eden come fitted with smart technology. Each home will be equipped with a digital door lockset, a Daikin Smart Hub that integrates smart devices onto a single-control platform to control air-conditioning in the living, dining and master bedroom. Owners of the four-bedroom units can use the smart mirror with a built-in speaker and microphone to access news, photos and their calendars.
Owners will be able to choose from a palette of warm or cool colour tones for the fittings in their respective units. Each apartment will also be furnished with appliances from Bosch and sanitary wares from Zucchetti and Geberit.
One-North Eden previewed on April 10, and is scheduled for launch on April 24. TID has appointed the two biggest marketing agencies for its project, namely PropNex Realty and ERA Realty Network.
‘Fear of missing out’
Ismail Gafoor, CEO of PropNex, expects demand to be “very positive” given that there has not been a new condo launch in one-north in 14 years. “Rental demand is expected to be very strong due to limited supply of residential units in the one-north area which has a workforce of close to 50,000,” he says.
Gafoor projects that investors at One-North Eden can expect both rental and price appreciation in the years to come, and reckons investors can expect rental yields of about 3%.
According to EdgeProp Research, recent rental transactions for one-bedroom units at One-North Residences were at $2,600 to $2,900 a month in February. The larger one-bedroom units in the 800–900 sq ft range at The Rochester Residences have been leased at $3,100 to $3,700 per month in February, according to EdgeProp tools.
Prices at One-North Eden may start from about $1,900 psf, but Gafoor expects some of the smaller units to cross $2,000 psf, given the limited stock. Even if prices cross $2,000 psf, it is still a value proposition, he reasons, pointing to Avenue South Residence at Silat Avenue, off Kampong Bahru Road. A city-fringe project in District 3, Avenue South Residence was launched in September 2019, and prices for many of the mid- to high-floor units have crossed $2,000 psf.
Besides investors, Gafoor sees interest from owner-occupiers too, mainly couples who are purchasing for their own use and families with children of school-going age. He expects the project to be “at least two times subscribed”.
No doubt, demand at One-North Eden is partly driven by the “fear of missing out”, says Nicholas Mak, head of research at ERA Realty. “After all, there are only 165 units in the development.”
With one-bedroom units starting from just below $1 million, and two-bedroom units priced from just below $1.3 million, One-North Eden is “very palatable” to investors, Mak says.
‘Paradox of land prices’
Adjacent to One-North Eden are two development land sites — Parcel A and Parcel B at Slim Barracks Rise. Both 99-year leasehold sites are on the Confirmed List and scheduled for launch in June. Parcel A has a site area of 85,036 sq ft and can be developed into a new condominium with 265 residential units and 8,611 sq ft of commercial space. Parcel B is smaller, at 63,058 sq ft, and may yield 140 residential units and 4,306 sq ft of commercial space.
“Even if the two sites are launched for sale in June, assuming the tenders close three months later in September, the earliest the two new projects could be launched for sale by the respective developers will be at the end of next year,” points out Mak.
If demand for units at One-North Eden proves to be strong, bidding for the two sites at Slim Barracks Rise is likely to intensify, resulting in higher land prices, adds Mak. “This is the paradox of land prices, where more supply leads to higher prices of the new projects.”
Lee Liat Yeang, senior partner of corporate real estate practice at Dentons Rodyk, agrees: “In my view, the two neighbouring plots at Slim Barracks Rise will not temper demand for One-North Eden,” he says. “The project should ride the pent-up housing demand in the one-north area that has been deprived of new supply for more than a decade.”
If anything, investors and buyers at One-North Eden will surmise that future launch prices of these new projects are likely to be higher, with land costs expected to be higher, adds Lee.
One-North Eden is scheduled for completion by December 2024. Competition for tenants is expected to be limited even then, notes Mak. The two existing 99-year leasehold projects, One-North Residences and The Rochester Residences, would be 15 and 13 years old respectively. Hence, One-North Eden, being the newest in the area, will be able to command a rental premium, he reckons.
In fact, One-North Eden is an example of TID’s “Blue Ocean Strategy” — to find sites where there is “no severe competition”, says Kaga. “Finding such a site is actually very difficult,” he adds.
NTP+ mall at New Tech Park close to 97% leased
Edgeprop, 16 Apr 2021, Fri 7:00am
By Cecilia Chow
SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - Like most Singaporeans, Donald Han spent the “circuit-breaker” months of April to June last year working from home. As he lives in the Cairnhill area, he would go jogging every afternoon at about 4pm. It was not to Singapore Botanic Gardens that he headed, but to the retail malls along Orchard Road. He wanted to see how business was affected by the circuit-breaker.
“Most malls along Orchard Road have F&B outlets inside, as the prime street front units are tenanted by the luxury brands,” observes Han. “During the circuit-breaker, many of the retail stores were closed, and F&B outlets only opened for takeaway business. Some mall landlords even turned off the lights, hence the mall was in darkness, and people were afraid to go in.”
This is not just idle observation. After all, Han is the CEO of Sabana Real Estate Investment Management, the manager of Sabana Shari’ah Compliant Industrial REIT. At that time, he was overseeing the asset enhancement initiative (AEI) at the biggest property in the REIT’s portfolio, namely New Tech Park at Lorong Chuan. Part of the AEI at the B1 industrial space building was the development of a new, two-storey commercial extension with F&B and retail space dubbed NTP+.
The construction of NTP+ was originally scheduled for completion sometime in mid-2020. Due to the circuit-breaker and slow restart of the construction sector, NTP+ only obtained its Temporary Occupation Permit in 1Q2021. The original construction budget for NTP+ was $20 million. “Despite Covid, we have kept within the budget,” says Han. “If I were to do this same development today, it would cost 20% to 30% more as construction costs have increased due to Covid.”
NTP+ has 26 retail and F&B units, of which 25 are situated on the first level. The 26th is on the second level, and designated for use as a food court. Today, NTP+ is 96.7% leased. Only two units are available, although one unit is already “under offer”, says Han.
New F&B concepts
Key F&B tenants include SF Group, which will launch four new restaurants: Collin’s western cuisine, Clan 7 Chinese restaurant, Saveur Thai restaurant and Kopi Clan. Wine Connection will be taking up three units, and will be launching a bistro concept as well as its wine retail shop.
Other F&B tenants include Dutch Colony Coffee, The Social Alley bistro and 96 Degree Fruitz Bar. Restaurants that will open there include D’Penyetz (famous for its Ayam Penyet or smashed fried chicken); Iro Iro Japanese Restaurant; Singapore-born concept Bowl & Bowl, which features fried rice and porridge cooked by robots; Red Hotpack, an Asian fusion quick-serve concept; and Yuktan Chobeolgu-I BBQ Korean restaurant. Even the food court, called Foodies’ Clan, will be a new concept by an experienced F&B operator.
About two-third of the tenants are F&B, notes Han. “Many of the F&B concepts are new to market but are managed by experienced operators,” he adds. “We support local entrepreneurs.”
Even the supermarket operator, Ace Signature, is a new-concept grocer, specialising in international produce from China, Japan and South Korea. It will also be tech-driven with barcode scanning and cashless checkout, similar to Amazon Go, says Han. The supermarket will occupy about 5,200 sq ft of space.
Most of the tenants are in the midst of fitting out their units at NTP+, and the mall is likely to be fully operational in the next two to three months, notes Han. The mall is able to secure such a high occupancy of 96.7% given its catchment area, he adds. In the area are at least five schools, such as Australian International School, St Gabriel’s Primary School and Nanyang Junior College with a total student population of about 12,000. “They provide foot traffic especially during the traditionally quiet period between 2pm and 5pm on weekdays,” says Han.
The Lorong Chuan area is also largely residential, with more than 7,000 households in the condominiums nearby such as Chuan Park, Goldenhill Park and The Springbloom, as well as the private housing estate of Mei Huan Drive.
New Tech Park is just across the road from the Lorong Chuan MRT Station on the Circle Line. Hence, NTP+ will benefit from a “captive market” made up of students and residents within a 2km radius as well as those working at New Tech Park. “New Tech Park is massive, with 832,373 sq ft of gross floor area,” says Han. “In the last six months, new multinational tenants that came onboard include those in the electronics and data centre sectors.”
What’s more, New Tech Park has 477 parking spaces in its covered carpark, which will be shared by patrons to the outlets at NTP+ Mall and the tenants of the business space. The parking space is ample, compared to most suburban malls, he adds.
The mall is also designed such that the F&B tenants have premium frontage and there is a dedicated space for food delivery riders to park their vehicles and zip in and out to pick up the food deliveries. “These riders do not want to spend more than 10 minutes trying to locate the F&B outlet in a mall,” says Han.
He has also taken into consideration Grab and taxi drivers doing food deliveries and is extending the grace period in the carpark to 15 minutes. “We try to make the carpark rates among the cheapest in the vicinity,” he adds. “The grace period at most places is 10 minutes, and ours is 15 minutes. We want to make sure that our tenants will do well even if there is a second circuit-breaker.”
Besides F&B outlets, food court and supermarket, other amenities at NTP+ include Anytime Fitness 24-hour gym, a hair salon and enrichment classes.
NTP+ has a total gross floor area of 43,000 sq ft, which includes a 10,000 sq ft landscaped roof terrace that is open to the tenants of New Tech Park. “This is a space created for community bonding activities,” says Han. The design of NTP+ is by Ong & Ong architectural practice.
Part of the asset enhancement at New Tech Park includes a new 600-seat auditorium. Asset enhancement of the main New Tech Park building is still underway: The infrastructure of the office space has been upgraded, with replacement of office lifts, revamped office lobby with new security turnstiles, and new toilets on the upper levels. These works are expected to be completed sometime in 4Q2021. “We will continue to implement staggered and targeted asset enhancement over the next 12-24 months to provide improved amenities to existing tenants and to attract quality expansionary tenants,” adds Han.
The monthly rents of NTP+ are said to hover between $8 and $10 psf. According to CBRE Research, prime retail rents of Orchard Road malls averaged $34.90 psf in 1Q2021, while those of prime suburban malls were $29.50 per month over the same period. While Orchard Road rents were down 9.5% y-o-y, the prime rents of suburban malls were down by just 0.5% y-o-y, according to CBRE.
Signs of recovery
Retail indicators point to signs of recovery: unemployment has declined, shopper traffic has returned and business expectations have improved, notes CBRE. With the protracted closure of tourism borders, local spending has increased. Retail sales (excluding motor vehicles) posted a y-o-y change of –1.3% and 3.5% in January and February respectively, a marked improvement compared to the pre-pandemic period, notes the consultant in its 1Q2021 Singapore Market View report.
Retailers from F&B, convenience stores and supermarkets were also increasing their footprint in 1Q2021. “At the same time, they have reinvented concepts, creating new and innovative brands to gain market share,” notes CBRE. Leasing enquiries from boutique gyms, beauty, health and wellness-related sectors remain relatively active, although their decision-making process is taking longer.
Sabana’s Han is optimistic that the retail sector is recovering. Demand for business space has picked up as well with 75% of the workforce able to return to the office. The strong take-up rate for the retail and F&B space at NTP+ also shows the importance of having a mall integrated with a B1 industrial space, especially if it is located within a residential area. “We worked closely with the authorities, and they want this property to be revitalised as well,” Han says. “It’s part of their decentralisation plan.”