Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Builder Has Designs On Posh Condo Market

Source : The Straits Times, July 29, 2008

Heeton recruits style-setting design firm yoo for Grange Road apartments

A COMPANY once famed for its wet markets is now rubbing shoulders with one of the world's trendiest firms in a bid to build Singapore's most chic condos.

Heeton Holdings has roped in yoo - a design-focused property firm co-founded by French style-setter Philippe Starck and British developer John Hitchcox - for its 74 Grange Road project.

STARCK SIMPLICITY: A showroom designed by yoo, the 'Prada of the property industry', inspired by its co-founder Philippe Starck. The firm was behind Hong Kong's JIA hotel and has other residential projects in Thailand and Taiwan. -- PHOTO: YOO

It has also recruited investment bank JP Morgan, which will take a 45 per cent stake in the 28-unit condo.

But yoo does not come cheap. The 'Prada of the property industry' designed Hong Kong's JIA hotel and has hooked up with designers like Jade Jagger, daughter of Rolling Stone Mick.

Heeton is paying a flat fee of around $2 million, well over double the standard design fee, for the interior design of the units and the show suite, plus an undisclosed incentive bonus if yoo sells the units.

In return, yoo is offering a cutting-edge concept intended to draw buyers worldwide. 'This will undoubtedly set a new standard here. Our focus is to help developers achieve higher prices,' said yoo's London-based chief executive Chris Boulton. 'We do add value and ensure they sell in tough markets.'

Mr Boulton said that the firm's projects had achieved a premium of 10 to 30 per cent above market value by capitalising on innovative design and the yoo brand to drive more traffic towards the project.

'It's also about making more noise about the project' to raise its profile, he added.

Heeton's chief operating officer Danny Low said it recruited yoo to give the freehold condo an edge over others.

'The Singapore market is very competitive and buyers have become increasingly sophisticated. That is why we have to present a highly differentiated product for our targeted buyers, who are high-net-worth individuals and couples.'

These are the buyers who like spacious two-bedroom units of 1,600 to 1,800 sq ft or the two penthouses of 3,600 sq ft and 4,000 sq ft.

Heeton will meet yoo next week to discuss the design for the project.

This is yoo's first residential design job here and its services will be exclusive to Heeton until the middle of next year. It also has residential projects in Thailand and Taiwan.

The project will be launched late this year or early next year. Construction should start by the first quarter of next year.

Heeton declined to give a break-even price as it has yet to appoint a contractor. It bought Grange Court for $72.8 million or $1,706 psf per plot ratio, excluding development charge, in a collective sale last August.

Knight Frank, the sole marketing agent, helped introduce yoo to Heeton. Yoo's managing director for Asia, Mr Andrew Pang, used to work for Knight Frank.

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