Saturday, July 19, 2008

​New Face In Farrer

Sourc : TODAY, Friday, July 18, 2008

Pritzker Prize-winning architect to design new $3-billion development

WHEN 31-year-old Farrer Court is demolished over the coming months, its replacement will be a “curvaceous” condominium that is set to dominate the skyline ofDistrict 10 and clock several firsts.

Giving the media a sneak peek yesterday, a CapitaLand-led consortium gave hints of how it planned to transform the site of Singapore’s biggest-ever en bloc sale.

In a precinct made up largely of landed homes and low- to mid-rise buildings, the upcoming 99-year leasehold project will comprise seven towers, which willeach reach a height of 36 storeys. There will be a total of1,500 homes, including 32 penthouses and 12 garden villas.

The condominium, yet to be named, will be launched in the first half of next year and is estimated to cost $3 billion to build, said CapitaLand Group chief executive Liew Mun Leong. The breakeven price ranges from $1,350 to $1,450 per square foot.

Unite pricing will be set closer to the launch, “but it will be affordable and we can make money”, said Mr Liew. He was confident that the project would find takers as en bloc sellers still need homes.

He said: “I am not worried about the economic downturn in the United States. Business must still go on.”

Behind the Farrer design is Pritzker ArchitecturePrize-winner Zaha Hadid, the first woman to clinch the architecture world’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize and the one who drafted the masterplan for the Buona Vista science hub, one-north. This will be her first condominium contract here.

“Zaha is very famous for her ‘sensuous architectural silhouettes’, whatever that means,” straight-talking Mr Liew said to laughter all round. “It just means curves to me.”

Later at the briefing, Mr Liew again had the audience in stitches when he replied to a question on how the consortium persuaded Ms Zaha to take up the job.

“It started with Mr Ong Beng Seng having a relationship — I mean ...” Mr Liew paused abruptly as the room erupted with laughter. “... Having a good working relationship with Ms Zaha, because all these require personal relationships.”

Mr Ong heads Hotel Properties Limited (HPL), which is the number-two shareholder of the consortium after CapitaLand.

Mr Liew was addressing business partners, lawyers and senior executives from the 10 banks that have sewn up a loan of $1.996 billion, the largest ever syndicated residential property development loan arranged here.

The funds will be used to cover some of the construction costs — which are estimated to total $3 billion — and to partly finance the cost of the site, which has a maximum gross floor area of 2.35 million square feet.

Last year, CapitaLand and its three partners — HPL, Morgan Stanley Real Estate Special Situations Fund III and Wachovia Development Corporation — agreed to pay$1.34 billion to buy Farrer Court.

It was the biggest collective sale in local history and made 618 homeowners instant millionaires, as each unit fetched an average of $2.15 million.

The en bloc sellers of Farrer Court will be invited to a preview of the new condominium. “But there will be no special price for them,” said CapitaLand Residential Singapore chief Patricia Chia.

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