Sensible investors to come to Singapore instead?

The asking price for a new three-storey penthouse in Singapore, complete with a private pool on the 64th floor, has reached a dizzying $100 million.

Due to be formally unveiled later this year, Wallich Residence’s penthouse is in the tallest building in Singapore, the island of well- heeled stability that attracts the super-rich from its South-east Asian neighbours, as well as multi-millionaires from China.

The “bungalow in the sky” penthouse in the GuocoLand-developed Tanjong Pagar Centre is likely to become Singapore’s most expensive apartment. Upcoming executive condo launches include Rivercove EC while existing ones include Parc Life, Signature at Yishun,  Brownstone EC, Visionaire EC, Inz Residence, The Criterion EC and Northwave EC, The Terrace EC,  The Vales EC, Hundred Palms Residences EC, Sol Acres EC and The Bellewoods EC. Rivercove Residences floor plans and Rivercove Residences EC details will be available shortly.

It will test the endurance of demand for luxury property in the nation – the part of the market that has taken the biggest hit from measures aimed at cooling property prices in recent years.

Prices for luxury homes in Singapore have fallen 15 per cent to 20 per cent from a 2013 peak, according to JLL consultancy, part of the Jones Lang LaSalle global property services group.

But JLL is now starting to see the prospects of a turnaround – at least at the top end of the market – and is forecasting a 3 per cent to 5 per cent increase in luxury prices this year, citing demand from both locals and foreigners who feel the market is bottoming out.

“A lot of people think Singapore is value for money because it has been downhill all the way – such a long winter,” said Mr V.R. Chandran, managing director of a real estate agency specialising in high- end homes. “Now, they feel it is the right time to come in.”

By contrast, he noted that Hong Kong apartment prices have been soaring, adding that sen- sible investors will come to Singapore instead.

GuocoLand Singapore group managing director Cheng Hsing Yao said buying by foreigners has picked up since the start of the year at the developer’s high-end Leedon Residence project, near the 150- year-old Singapore Botanic Gardens.

GuocoLand is part of Malaysian conglomerate Hong Leong Group headed by billionaire Quek Leng Chan.

The recent tightening of property market controls elsewhere, such as in Hong Kong and Australia, has played a part in attracting foreign demand to Singapore’s luxury property this year, Mr Cheng said.

Singapore introduced property price cooling measures to curb speculation, as did many other “hot property” cities in the region.

While some measures were relaxed slightly this year, the authorities warned last month that there would be no more rolling back for now.

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Transformation plan to appeal to residents

SINGAPORE -When its first buildings are ready in five years, Punggol North could become something of a mini Silicon Valley in Singapore – a centre of digital and cybersecurity industries that generates up to 28,000 digital economy jobs.

The masterplan for the 50ha Punggol Digital District was launched on Sunday  by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean at Waterway Point mall, together with an exhibition on what the district would look like. Speaking at the event, DPM Teo said the plan is to make Punggol “a hub for key growth sectors of the Digital Economy” and that could even involve moving government agencies, such as the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore – currently in Maxwell Road – to the district.

“This will help create a new cluster of cybersecurity and technology firms in Punggol. Our residents can look forward to many exciting jobs in the future close to home.” Upcoming executive condo launches include Rivercove EC while existing ones include Parc Life, Signature at Yishun,  Brownstone EC, Visionaire EC, Inz Residence, The Criterion EC and Northwave EC, The Terrace EC,  The Vales EC, Hundred Palms Residences EC, Sol Acres EC and The Bellewoods EC. Rivercove Residences floor plans and Rivercove Residences EC details will be available shortly.

The district will also serve as a testbed for a slew of new features and planning practices.

The area will also be car-lite, with infrastructure such as parking spaces located underground. That leaves the streets for pedestrians, cyclists and users of personal mobility devices. It will be connected to other parts of Singapore by a host of new transport infrastructure, including the new Punggol Coast MRT station.

The Singapore Institute of Technology’s (SIT) new campus will also be in the district, a move that DPM Teo said would create opportunities for students and faculty to exchange ideas with industry practitioners working there.

The Punggol Digital District is a pilot project for what is being termed an “enterprise district”,with the authorities studying if this model can be applied to other areas in the future.

JTC Corporation, which is working with SIT to develop the area, hopes to attract tech-centric enterprises specialising in areas such as cyber security and artificial intelligence to set up shop there. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong first mentioned the plans for developing Punggol North during his 2015 National Day Rally speech.

More details – such as more flexible land use rules for the new district – were later revealed by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong in Parliament last year.

The new district is a collaboration among four agencies – the Urban Redevelopment Authority, Infocomm Media Development Authority, JTC and SIT.

They envision a cluster of buildings managed by centralised systems which would handle waste collection, cooling and logistics for the whole area. It could even be cooled by “smart” thermostats which can detect changes outdoors and adjust the temperature indoors accordingly.

Flanking the area will be Housing Board flats, such as the upcoming Northshore Edge development, which is slated to be completed in 2021.

Mr David Tan, who is assistant chief executive officer at JTC, said that it will be applying lessons it has learnt from other developments it has been involved in. This includes striking the right balance between work and leisure spaces, and even how closely spaced the buildings are.

For example, buildings at the International Business Park are “very standalone” compared with those in one-north, said Mr Tan. Both developments are operated by JTC. “At one-north, the buildings are much closer together and so you have more interaction,” he said.

Ms Lam Lee Choo, who has lived in Punggol for 11 years, said that the transformation plan will appeal to residents.

“The Punggol residents are generally young. They will welcome the use of technology that improves their lives,” said the 52-year-old housewife, who is also a grassroots leader.

“An area that they will look forward to is the use of technology to deliver government services, so that they don’t have to visit the government offices,” she added.

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En bloc sales an effective tool for urban redevelopment?

A surge in transaction volume in the private housing market after the third quarter may have seemed like the first sign of optimism. But the pick-up came much earlier as prescient developers snapped up lands put up for en bloc sale starting in the second quarter.

With 37 tenders worth more than S$8.7 billion being awarded last year and even more properties put up for collective sale since, the en bloc frenzy seems unstoppable – not least because of property owners who have been waiting all this while and are more than happy to cash in on the hype.

2018 is therefore the year to watch for signs of the market cooling off. Upcoming executive condo launches include Rivercove EC while existing ones include Parc Life, Signature at Yishun,  Brownstone EC, Visionaire EC, Inz Residence, The Criterion EC and Northwave EC, The Terrace EC,  The Vales EC, Hundred Palms Residences EC, Sol Acres EC and The Bellewoods EC. Rivercove Residences floor plans and Rivercove Residences EC details will be available shortly.

In recent months, experts have warned against getting swept up in the en bloc frenzy and urged for investors and authorities to look out for tell-tale signs of a property market bubble.

They advise caution, having borne witness to the two previous waves of en bloc frenzies in 1997 and 2007.

In the three years preceding the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997, almost 100 en bloc sales were completed.

Just before the Global Financial Crisis hit in 2007, almost 170 properties changed hands in collective sale deals, with the fever reaching a total transaction price of S$12.61 billion in one single year.

Although the 2017 en bloc round seemed small compared to the last two waves, the words of experts urging for clear heads have credence.

The deals closed thus far over the past year involved much larger sites, exposing developers to significant financial risk.

Aggressive land banking by developers have not let up, even as their costs have reached record-breaking collective sale prices.

Will the en bloc fever cause future housing prices to edge up especially when aggressive developers continue to place sky-high bids? Will these cause rising prices to spill over to neighbouring projects?

Alternatively, when this round of musical chairs stop, will developers be stuck with large tracts of property, forced to sell at significant discounts?

UPTICK IN PRIVATE HOUSING PRICES LIKELY

In the near term, we think there is room for optimism as this round of en bloc sales looks set to boost prices in the private housing market.

We can expect the uptick to fuel even more collective sale activities. More of such deals are already being put together by en bloc sale committees and real estate consultants in 2018.

Past data supports this optimistic projection – a bumper crop of en bloc sales in 2007 seemed to have underpinned a strong upward price trend in the private housing market that subsequently peaked in 2008.

Meanwhile, it is premature to argue that the en bloc frenzy in 2017 will lead to overheating in the private housing market, given the strong slew of anti-speculation measures that are still in place since February 2010.

As Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong may have subtly hinted, the high bids put in by developers might not translate into higher sale prices down the road when developers are incentivised to maintain realistic expectations or risk getting penalised.

“Bear in mind that developers are also subject to the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty”, he added in a reply to a parliament question on the en bloc frenzy in November 2017.

Developers are only eligible for the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty remission rule if they complete and sell all units of their developments within five years from the land purchase.

Let’s also not forget that authorities can make adjustments to the amount of land released via the Government Land Sales to correct supply imbalances in the private housing market and curb rising prices in a hot market.

All these should temper the chances of a scenario where developers are stuck with properties they cannot sell for a price that recoups their cost or a situation where prices soar beyond what is affordable for a Singapore household in the middle to high income bracket.

There is also reason to believe that new developments at old en bloc sites are likely to continue to command a premium, where many provide a rare source of high-quality land in usually well-developed estates with dense transport links.

URBAN REDEVELOPMENT A LIKELY WINNER

In fact, we’ll argue there is also good reason to keep the en bloc frenzy on a slow boil – and to keep the music going.

News coverage and commentary on en bloc sales usually spotlight on property owners, an obvious group of winners who benefit from the sale proceeds, save the few reluctant to move out of a long-held home.

But what most news coverage ignores is that an en bloc sale is a cure for mounting maintenance costs for an ageing property reaching a critical half-life milestone in their leases.

En bloc deals also aid in the Government’s goal of urban redevelopment and renewal, particularly in older estates.

These provide useful injections to old, low-density neighbourhoods, attracting younger families with higher incomes and stimulating commercial interests in those areas. They also go some way in rejuvenating local communities while getting rid of older, more dilapidated buildings.

Through en bloc sales, the gentrification of mature estates may not only be a common occurrence but an encouraged phenomenon.

En bloc sales may be an effective tool for urban redevelopment, if coupled with infrastructure and transport planning that keeps up with changing demographics in a neighbourhood.

The local community also stands to benefit. Land developments taxes collected by the Government from granting higher density developments and extending the lease period of land plots can be indirectly redistributed back to the neighborhood through investments in better local amenities and public transport networks.

The Government also has a say in refusing redevelopments of older en bloc sites, if new developments incur signiicant negative externalities in terms of traffic congestion and overcrowding.

In November 2017, the URA introduced a new rule requiring a pre-application traffic impact study before an en bloc redevelopment application can be processed.

So it seems not only will this round of musical chairs continue for a while, boosting prices in the private housing market, but it’s also in Singapore’s urban redevelopment interests to keep the music going.

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Strong demand expected for new project

SINGAPORE – It is third time lucky for owners of Park West.

Developer SingHaiyi Group has snagged the residential site in Clementi for $840.9 million amid the ongoing en bloc sale fever.

Park West is located at Jalan Lempeng, near Clementi MRT station.

It is being acquired by Sing-Haiyi Gold, a 50-50 joint venture between SingHaiyi’s wholly owned subsidiary SingHaiyi Land and Haiyi Wealth, an entity controlled by Gordon Tang and Celine Tang, SingHaiyi said in a statement late on Thursday. Upcoming executive condo launches include Rivercove EC while existing ones include Parc Life, Signature at Yishun,  Brownstone EC, Visionaire EC, Inz Residence, The Criterion EC and Northwave EC, The Terrace EC,  The Vales EC, Hundred Palms Residences EC, Sol Acres EC and The Bellewoods EC. Rivercove Residences floor plans and Rivercove Residences EC details will be available shortly.

The husband-and-wife duo are also controlling shareholders and directors of SingHaiyi through Haiyi Holdings.

Park West is a 99-year-leasehold estate occupying a land area of about 633,644 sq ft, with a plot ratio of 2.1. Its lease commenced on March 8, 1982.

Marketing agent Huttons Asia said the site can yield about 1.33 million sq ft of gross floor area upon redevelopment.

At $840.9 million plus an estimated $290.6 million in differential premium and lease upgrading premium, the price tag works out to a land cost of $850 per sq ft per plot ratio.

Huttons Asia said the successful transaction is the third attempt at a collective sale by the property owners.

Mr Terence Lian, head of investment sales, Huttons Asia, said the regular shape plot of land offers good redevelopment opportunity given its strategic location. The land is near the One-North R&D Park and Singapore’s second Central Business District at Jurong Lake.

“We expect there to be strong demand for the new project judging from the high popularity of nearby projects such as The Trilinq and The Clement Canopy,” Mr Lian said.

The buyer intends to apply to the Singapore Land Authority for the grant of a fresh 99-year lease for the property, and to lift certain title restrictions.

SingHaiyi said the latest acquisition gives it access to a land site within an established residential area, and allows the firm to expand its development portfolio in Singapore.

The deal comes as the property developer in December moved to raise some $143 million for property investments through a rights issue.

It proposed a renounceable non-underwritten rights issue of up to about 1.44 billion new shares at 10 cents each, to be issued on the basis of one rights share for every two existing shares.

Majority shareholder Haiyi Holdings, which has a 56.17 per cent stake in SingHaiyi, has committed to subscribe for not only its pro-rata entitlement of 806 million rights shares, but also to mop up any rights shares that are not taken up.

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Northpoint City’s shopping centre upgrade

Yishun megamall Northpoint City is ready for a soft opening in the fourth quarter of this year, with about 90 per cent of its retail space leased, developer Frasers Centrepoint Singapore said yesterday.

It is slated to have more than 400 retail and dining outlets, up from 171 before renovations began. The 1.33 million sq ft property will swallow the original Northpoint Shopping Centre, which opened in 1992, and will convert it into the north wing of the upcoming hub. This will benefit nearby residents such as those from Signature at Yishun EC and Parc Life EC. Upcoming executive condo launches include Rivercove EC while existing ones include Parc Life, Signature at Yishun,  Brownstone EC, Visionaire EC, Inz Residence, The Criterion EC and Northwave EC, The Terrace EC,  The Vales EC, Hundred Palms Residences EC, Sol Acres EC and The Bellewoods EC. Rivercove Residences floor plans and Rivercove Residences EC details will be available shortly.

Northpoint City will also house the Nee Soon Central Community Centre in its south wing. The relocation next year into a commercial space will be a first for community centres.

The south wing is slated to have a foodcourt and a 33,000 sq ft FairPrice supermarket, on top of the existing mall’s Kopitiam foodcourt and Cold Storage grocery store.

Northpoint City’s shopping centre upgrade was meant as “an integral part of Yishun’s Remaking Our Heartland Programme”, said Frasers Centrepoint Singapore chief executive Christopher Tang, referring to the Housing Board initiative to spruce up mature estates.

Yishun was one of three pilot towns chosen for the scheme a decade ago, with the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital among the projects in the neighbourhood’s rejuvenation. An air-conditioned underground retail link will connect Northpoint City to Yishun MRT station as well as to a bus interchange.

The development also includes the 920-unit North Park Residences, where 87 per cent of homes have been sold.

Frasers Centrepoint Singapore is a unit of Singapore-listed Frasers Centrepoint, which ended the day higher by three cents, or 1.6 per cent, at $1.925.

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Need to inject a larger supply of residential sites

SINGAPORE: The Government has increased the supply of land for private housing sites amid rising demand from home buyers, the Ministry of National Development (MND) said on Thursday.

Sixteen land sites, comprising six confirmed sites and 10 on the reserve list, were released for sale under the second half of the Government Land Sales (GLS) programme for 2017. Upcoming executive condo launches include Rivercove EC while existing ones include Parc Life, Signature at Yishun,  Brownstone EC, Visionaire EC, Inz Residence, The Criterion EC and Northwave EC, The Terrace EC,  The Vales EC, Hundred Palms Residences EC, Sol Acres EC and The Bellewoods EC. Rivercove Residences floor plans and Rivercove Residences EC details will be available shortly.

The sites are expected to yield up to 8,125 private homes, an increase from the first half of the GLS programme for 2017, which saw a supply of 7,465 units.

“As the demand for new private housing from home buyers continued to rise in the first half of 2017, the number of unsold private housing units in the pipeline has declined. Hence, there is a need to inject a larger supply of residential sites through the GLS programme to ensure that there is an adequate pipeline,” MND said.

The 16 sites are also expected to yield 83,590 sq m of commercial space.

The confirmed sites comprise four private residential sites – including an Executive Condominium site – and two commercial and residential sites.

The reserve list, which identifies sites that will only be launched for tenders if developers successfully apply for them, comprises nine private residential sites and a commercial site.

The site at Woodlands Square on the reserve list is a mixed-use development comprising mainly office space, which will allow developers to initiate the development of more office space if they assess there is demand, MND said.

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Increase the district’s public transport mode share

SINGAPORE — Bus-only roads and consolidated deliveries from a central warehouse are among the initiatives to be rolled out in the Jurong Lake District, to reduce traffic and make it car-lite.

The district in western Singapore is set to be re-developed into a second Central Business District, and the authorities are planning to have public transport seamlessly connecting it to the rest of Singapore, as well as for connections within the district. This will benefit nearby EC residents such as those from Inz Residence EC.  Upcoming executive condo launches include Rivercove EC while existing ones include Parc Life, Signature at Yishun,  Brownstone EC, Visionaire EC, Inz Residence, The Criterion EC and Northwave EC, The Terrace EC,  The Vales EC, Hundred Palms Residences EC, Sol Acres EC and The Bellewoods EC. Rivercove Residences floor plans and Rivercove Residences EC details will be available shortly.

Apart from the existing North-South Line and East-West Line, other MRT networks to serve the district are the new Jurong Region Line and the Cross Island Line. The upcoming Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail terminus will also be located there.

At the launch of a public exhibition on Friday (Aug 25) to gather public feedback on the district’s development, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said that one of the plans is to increase the district’s public transport mode share. This refers to the number of trips that commuters make using public transport compared to the total number of trips they make (which may include commutes using private vehicles).

The target is for this share to be more than 80 per cent, which would be higher than the national figure of 66 per cent. So roads will be prioritised for use by public transport.

Within the district, an MRT station or bus stop is expected to be at least a five-minute walk, or not more than 400m, away.

Ms Yvonne Lim, group director of physical planning at the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), told reporters that it has planned for an area within the district to be a public transit zone, where only buses will run.

Outside of this public transit zone, there will be at least four consolidated underground car park hubs in the district for private vehicles.

To manage traffic contributed by private transport, the URA is looking at several measures, such as cutting down on freight trips.

In particular, to prevent traffic congestion during peak hours, and to reduce the volume of freight vehicles on the roads by at least 65 per cent, the URA is working with relevant agencies to consolidate goods deliveries.

For example, an offsite consolidation centre will be located near the district. Ms Lim said that the goods can be pooled at the centre and possibly loaded onto fewer trucks.

The network of cycling and shared paths in the district will be expanded for pedestrians and users of personal mobility devices.

At the Jurong Lakeside precinct, for instance, there will be dedicated cycling paths on every street.

The 305-hectare Jurong Lakeside precinct, designated as a recreational space with parks and a waterfront promenade, is one of two precincts within the Jurong Lake District. The other is the 55-hectare Jurong Gateway, which would be a commercial hub.

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Embracing the adoption of new construction methods

SINGAPORE — Prefabrication will play a bigger role in the Housing and Development Board’s (HDB) efforts to boost construction productivity, which is on track to improve 25 per cent by 2020 from 2010 levels.

Productivity levels at HDB construction sites last year, defined as the amount of floor area completed per worker per day, was 12.3 per cent higher than in 2010, said the public housing authority.  Upcoming executive condo launches include Rivercove EC while existing ones include Parc Life, Signature at Yishun,  Brownstone EC, Visionaire EC, Inz Residence, The Criterion EC and Northwave EC, The Terrace EC,  The Vales EC, Hundred Palms Residences EC, Sol Acres EC and The Bellewoods EC. Rivercove Residences floor plans and Rivercove Residences EC details will be available shortly.

 By 2019, toilets in all newly launched public housing flats and rooms in about a third of housing projects will be built in a factory instead of the construction site, the HDB said.

Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee announced the wider adoption of concrete “volumetric construction” in future HDB projects at a ceremony attended by HDB building contractors and architectural consultants on Wednesday (Sept 6).

Releasing more details, the HDB said shells of the bathroom units will be pre-fabricated and fitted with finishes – such as copper pipes, tiles, window frames and a waterproofing system – off-site, before they are taken to the work site and stacked onto a block.

This will increase the amount of floor area completed by one site worker per day by about 10 per cent.

In 35 per cent of its projects, other components of a flat (such as bedrooms, the living room, household shelter and kitchen) will be pre-fitted with floor and wall finishes, window frames and a base coat of paint in a factory, before being transported to the construction site, the HDB

This method, called pre-fabricated pre-finished volumetric construction (PPVC), will result in a 50 per cent bump in project productivity.

The HDB, Singapore’s largest housing developer, said the pre-fabricated bathroom units and PPVC methods would be “game-changing”.

The 12.3 per cent improvement in construction productivity from 2010 to last year has meant an increase from 0.439 to 0.493 square metres completed per man-day.

This was achieved through the use of precast walls and standardised fittings.

Such technologies will cost contractors more for now – but with no impact on flat prices, said the HDB.

Pre-fabricated bathroom units are expected to push construction costs of projects higher by one per cent.

The PPVC method will be 8 per cent costlier than conventional building methods, where workers hoist raw materials onto elevated blocks being built.

“These costs are expected to come down as the technology matures and the industry capacities and capabilities build up over time.

“The use of pre-fabricated bathroom units and PPVC methods will also translate to savings in terms of manpower,” said the HDB.

Benefits from the off-site assembly of volumetric units include less wastage of materials and improved site safety, as fewer construction workers are required on-site. Volumetric construction in factory environment also means “more uniform and better quality workmanship”.

The prefabrication journey has had its share of ups and downs.

The HDB had trialled at least two versions of pre-fabricated toilets in the past.

Fibre-reinforced plastic was used as a floor material in 10 blocks of Compassvale Link flats built in 2004, leading to water seepage issues.

Residents had to get their toilets renovated from scratch as the toilet floor of some units had started to creak and sag, while emitting bad smells as stagnant water had collected on the floorbed.

The HDB scrapped the material in 2006 and turned to thin ferro-cement, before settling on full concrete in 2011. The latter was piloted in the Fernvale Lea build-to-order (BTO) project, which started construction in 2012 and completed in January last year.

Concrete pre-fabricated toilets have been installed in some 14,000 units across 15 BTO projects so far. This technology will also be used in 60 per cent of flats launched this year.

In March this year, the PPVC method was used for the first time to construct 824 BTO units at Valley Spring @ Yishun.

This came more than two years after HDB tested the same volumetric construction approach – but without floor finishes or painting – in the building of 1,793 units in West Terra @ Bukit Batok, which is expected to complete by March next year.

The phased implementation of PPVC will allow the industry players such as building contractors, architectural consultants, and suppliers to build up their capability to “embrace the adoption of new methods and materials”, said the HDB.

At the HDB Awards ceremony, Mr Lee also said HDB would embark on a research project with Nanyang Technological University to develop a Smart Integrated Construction System to “improve integration across the entire life cycle of a project, from design to supply chain, and to facilities management”.

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Property developers hungry for land

In a sign property developers are hungry for land amid improving market sentiment, a large residential site for private homes in Queenstown has been triggered for sale.

A developer committed to bid at least $685.25 million for a 2.11ha Stirling Road site, able to yield about 1,110 units, the Urban Redevelopment Authority said yesterday. Unlike sites on the confirmed list which go on sale automatically, sites on the reserve list are put up for sale only after a bid acceptable to the Government is received. Upcoming executive condo launches include Rivercove EC while existing ones include Parc Life, Signature at Yishun,  Brownstone EC, Visionaire EC, Inz Residence, The Criterion EC and Northwave EC, The Terrace EC,  The Vales EC, Hundred Palms Residences EC, Sol Acres EC and The Bellewoods EC. Rivercove Residences floor plans and Rivercove Residences EC details will be available shortly.

The site has been on the Government Land Sales reserve list since March 2010. It is made up of two adjacent sites once offered separately but merged into one site in 2012.

The 99-year leasehold site is next to Tiong Ghee Temple and near Anchorpoint shopping centre.

As it is one of the larger sites on offer, analysts said the bid reflected better market sentiment, and developers’ growing appetite for residential land. “The triggering of this site is by a developer who felt that the private residential property market has a high chance of getting out of the woods – there’s some light at the end of the tunnel,” said Mr Ong Kah Seng, director of R’ST Research.

He noted that many developers are running low on land and have to demonstrate that they have longer- term corporate growth strategies.

Mr Ong Teck Hui, JLL’s national director of research, agreed that upbeat sentiment and keen buying interest this year prompted the bid.

“Being a prime city-fringe site, it is also likely to generate much interest and attract buyers easily.”

Analysts expect competitive bidding. Mr Desmond Sim, head of South-east Asia research at CBRE, said the site “has very good attributes” and is within walking distance of Queenstown MRT station.

He added that the parties bidding will likely form “joint ventures as $685.25 million is a big undertaking”. Based on a maximum permissible gross floor area of 954,328 sq ft, the bid translates to a price of $718 per sq ft (psf) per plot ratio. Analysts expect bids to climb further, to between $830 psf and $950 psf.

Mr Nicholas Mak, SLP International Property’s executive director of research, expects eight to 14 bids. Good sales at nearby projects andthe easing of property curbs “should lift the confidence of bidders”.

JLL’s Mr Ong expects between seven and 11 bids, but noted unsold supply in Commonwealth Towers, Queens Peak and an upcoming project in Margaret Drive. The pricing will likely take a cue from Queens Peak, with an average of $1,640 psf, and Commonwealth Towers, at an average of $1,654 psf, he added.

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