Friday, December 7, 2007

Catching Formula One Race In High Style

Source : The Business Times, December 7, 2007

Grandstands will also be set up in the S'pore Flyer Garden

FORMULA One (F1) fans hoping for a bird's eye view of the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix can opt to watch it from the 165-metre tall Singapore Flyer.

The $240 million Flyer observation wheel, which is expected to open on March 1, 2008, can hold 28 guests in each of its 28 capsules, translating to 784 passengers for every half-hour long ride.

Singapore GP has forged a land-use and ticketing partnership with the Flyer under which Singapore GP will establish grandstands with adjoining marquees, lifestyle areas, entertainment and F&B outlets in the Singapore Flyer Garden and adjoining areas facing the track.

The grandstands - reserved for corporate buyers - will be standalone private buildings as opposed to a single large one.

Details are still being hammered out, but Flyer general manager David Beevers reckons ticket prices for corporate boxes in the Flyer Promenade could go between $3,500 to $4,500 each over the three days of the GP.

Pricing and the number of seats are expected to be released in late January 2008 by Singapore GP.

The $240 million Flyer observation wheel, which is expected to open on March 1, 2008, can hold 28 guests in each of its 28 capsules, translating to 784 passengers for every half-hour long ride.

Although tickets for the Flyer can be bought by the public, promenade ticket holders will get preference.

'Given the number of private land owners around the circuit, the deal will be a good model to use with other interested parties,' said Michael Roche, executive director of the Singapore GP.

Because the right to sell tickets remains solely with Singapore GP, the company is in talks with venues around the race circuit to engineer additional partnerships.

This will help 'secure unobstructed race views and maximise involvement from as many vantage points as possible', said Alastair Hunt, Singapore GP's circuit park manager.

Safety fences, the lighting system and advertising hoardings are expected to serve as obstacles and discourage viewing from unauthorised venues on the periphery of the track.

Singapore GP has also awarded to two companies - PICO Art International and Kingsmen Creatives - the contract to construct some of the grandstands, seating and corporate hospitality suites for the race. The five-year contract is expected to be worth $25 million.

Slowdown Will Be Modest In Major Economies: OECD

Source : The Business Times, December 7, 2007

It expects activity to pick up by 2009 despite oil hikes, US sub-prime crisis

THE world's leading economies will suffer only a modest slowdown in growth next year with activity picking up again into 2009 despite the fallout from the US sub-prime mortgage crisis, high oil prices and other threats, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development forecast yesterday.

The eventual fallout of financial turmoil on the real economy is hard to gauge, says the OECD.

But the OECD acknowledged risks that could upset this 'benign' baseline scenario for global growth.

US economic growth will slow from an expected 2.2 per cent this year to 2 per cent in 2008 but economic activity there will begin picking up as early as the second quarter of next year, the OECD said in its latest Economic Outlook. Likewise, growth in Japan and the euro area will slow only slightly next year while overall OECD growth will decelerate to 2.1 per cent from an expected 2.3 per cent for 2007.

These robust predictions follow a World Bank report which revised upwards projections for growth across Asia (excluding Japan), on the assumption that growth in the world's major economies will not be hit hard by the sub-prime crisis.

They contrast with a Congressional Budget Office warning this week that the US is at an 'elevated risk' of economic recession.

This year will be the fourth year of above-trend growth in the OECD area, said forecasters at the Paris-based economic think- tank. But they noted that 'growth is now moderating', partly because of a cooling in housing markets. 'Adding to the downside risk, the financial turmoil that began over the summer has not yet played itself out, with the eventual fallout on the real economy still hard to gauge'.

Recession is not on the cards for the US, according to the organisation's projections. OECD economist Randall Jones said in a video briefing from Paris last night that the early response by US monetary authorities to the sub-prime loans crisis had lessened the chances of a serious economic slowdown there while the falling dollar was serving to boost US exports. He also cited continuing labour market strength in the US as a factor for optimism.

Yet another positive factor is that the sub-prime lending crisis and related financial market turbulence has come 'after a prolonged global expansion when corporate balance sheets and labour markets were unusually strong, as well as due to the prompt action of central banks', the OECD said in its report.

'Some re-pricing of risk was overdue and that risk is now better reflected in the cost of capital,' it said. 'This may lead to a more discriminating allocation of capital and so enhance longer-term growth prospects.'

The housing market slowdown is now evident in most OECD economies, which dampen their growth prospects, 'but it is expected to act as a severe brake in only a few', the Economic Outlook said, citing the US and Britain in particular where falling house prices and a drop in mortgage equity withdrawal will 'contribute to some further slowdown in demand'.

But the risks surrounding the baseline growth scenario for next year and 2009 have a 'long tail to the downside', the report suggested. 'This reflects, in particular, that there could be after-shocks to financial markets. It also reflects uncertainty about how sensitive households and businesses might be to high costs and lower availability of credit.

'It is possible as well that a greater number of countries are vulnerable to a pronounced downturn in house prices or housing investment, particularly if financial turmoil were to disrupt mortgage markets more than currently seems to be the case, or if the experience of other countries leads to a reassessment of house prices by buyers and sellers.'

Property Players Likely To Zoom In On Central Locations

Source : The Straits Times, Dec 7, 2007

Topping the list is multi-use 'white site' not far from Bugis MRT

DEVELOPERS, and eventually homebuyers, can take their pick from 21 plots that the Government will release for private housing between now and June.

Property players, however, are likely to zoom straight in on the handful of land parcels that are more centrally located, industry experts say.

At the top of the list is the multi-use 'white site' bounded by Ophir Road, Beach Road and Rochor Road. The property sits next to Parkview Square and is a stone's throw from Raffles Hospital and the Bugis MRT Station.

The sale of this 2.74ha plot will 'kick-start the development of the... Rochor Road/

Ophir Road corridor', linking Marina Centre to the Bugis area, the Ministry of National Development (MND) said yesterday.

The site, which will be launched for sale in June, must have some area set aside for offices and hotels, but the rest of the space can be put to other uses such as residential.

Bids will likely come in at $750 to $850 per sq ft per plot ratio (psf ppr) for this site, said Mr Nicholas Mak, the director of research and consultancy at Knight Frank.

Apart from this plum plot, there are a few other attractive residential sites, consultants say.

One is a new site at the corner of Woodleigh Close and Upper Serangoon Road, next to the Blossoms@Woodleigh condominium. It is near the yet-to-be-opened Woodleigh MRT Station on the North-East Line.

About 270 homes can be built on the 1.07ha plot, to be launched for sale in April.

Another choice site is at the junction of Lorong 2 Toa Payoh and Lorong 3 Toa Payoh, within walking distance of the Braddell MRT Station.

This 1.4ha site can host 535 homes and will be put up for sale in February. It was previously on the reserve list for developers to indicate interest, but it saw no takers. It has now been moved to the confirmed list to be launched at a fixed date.

Mr Li Hiaw Ho, the executive director of CB Richard Ellis research, picked out two more sites as being among the 'best of the crop'.

The first, at Bishan Street 14, has an area of 1.2ha and can host a 535-unit project.

The other is a 1.19ha site at New Upper Changi Road.

These four residential sites may fetch prices in the range of $400 to $600 psf of potential gross floor area, Mr Li estimated.

Mr Mak has noted, however, that apart from the Woodleigh Close site, which is new, the other plots have been available for some time on the Government's reserve list.

Reserve list plots will not be launched for sale unless a developer comes forward to bid for them. Usually, choice plots on the reserve list will move quickly.

Those that remain to be 'recycled' for the next round of land sales are generally less attractive.

This time, however, the 'recycled' plots are quite plum, said Mr Mak.

If even these sites cannot find takers, 'maybe developers already have enough on their plates', he said.

In that case, perhaps the Government is offering more sites than the market is ready to absorb, he suggested.

For private housing alone, the MND has added 12 new sites to its land sales programme, including the Woodleigh Close plot.

Others include sites at Choa Chu Kang Drive, Tampines Avenue 1, Upper Changi Road North, Chestnut Avenue, Upper Thomson Road, Sengkang West Avenue and Sembawang Road.

There are also three executive condo sites, as well as a plot for landed homes at Sembawang Greenvale Phase 2. This landed parcel will be put up for auction in February to cater to smaller investors.

Outside land sales, the Government will also offer about 110 private housing units, including 90 service apartments at one-north. It will also provide 120,000 sq m of commercial space.

More Land For Mass Market Private Homes Released

Source : The Straits Times, Dec 7, 2007

The 21 residential sites will help meet demand and avert sharp price increases

PRIVATE home buyers look set to be spoilt for choice after the Government unveiled an expansive programme of land sales for the first half of next year.

The big winners will be mass market buyers, who include home buyers upgrading from HDB flats.

A total of 21 residential sites - mainly mass market ones - feature in the programme including new plots at Choa Chu Kang, Tampines and Sengkang.

Industry observers say the move could help soak up strong demand for these homes and avert potentially sharp mass market price rises.

Counting commercial and hotel sites, the programme comprises 37 sites, after the Government released its largest-ever land package of 41 sites six months ago for the current second half year.

There are three commercial sites, two 'white' multi-use sites, one commercial-cum-residential site and 10 hotel sites - yielding about 8,250 homes, 410,000 sq m gross floor area of commercial space, and 5,850 hotel rooms.

'This supply will be sufficient to meet the demand for the various properties over the medium-term and support the continued growth of our economy,' said the National Development Ministry in a statement yesterday.

Industry observers say the programme comes as sentiment in the local property market has weakened due to the United States sub-prime mortgage crisis, high oil prices and a possible US economic slowdown.

Developers have also recently said it is difficult to micro-manage the market, which has taken almost a decade to turn around. Owing to this uncertainty, some consultants worry the mass market home supply may be a tad too much for the market.

'This package comes across as fairly aggressive in addressing supply shortages because we still have the sub-prime problems, which remain very uncertain,' said Chesterton International's head of research and consultancy Colin Tan. 'If the US economy is affected, Singapore's real estate sector will surely be hit in some way.'

The land sales programme includes 17 new sites for sale, up from 15 this half year.

There are 11 confirmed sites - those that will be put up for sale on scheduled dates. Eight of these are residential, mostly in suburban areas such as West Coast Crescent, Yishun and Sembawang.

CBRE research executive director Li Hiaw Ho said the release of several suburban plots suggests the Government is aware that prices in popular non-prime locations have risen substantially - pricing out potential HDB upgraders.

The latest programme has 26 reserve-list sites, including five new residential sites in areas such as Chestnut Avenue, as well as three executive condominium sites that were recently announced.

Reserve-list sites are put up for sale only when a developer commits to bid a minimum price.

This time round, there are fewer commercial sites, with just one white site - a coveted plot in the soon-to-revamped Ophir/Rochor area - up for confirmed sale. Consultants said this bodes well for the market as supply will come onstream from 2009.

Land Sales Programme For 1H08 Draws Good Reviews

Source : The Business Times, December 7, 2007

Large supply of mass market homes but govt holds back on office sites

THE government will release a batch of suburban residential land parcels in the first half of next year but property analysts are divided as to whether there will be enough takers for the homes coming up on the sites.

And on the back of reports that Singapore could see an oversupply of office space come 2010, the government is releasing just one site for office use in its confirmed list in its land sales programme for the first half of next year.

The 21 residential sites on the list will yield 8,250 private homes, including executive condos. This compares to a supply of 8,000 private homes for the second half of 2007.

Eight of these sites - with the capacity for 2,840 homes - are on the confirmed list. The other 13 sites are on the reserve list.

Market watchers said that the large number of suburban residential sites seems to imply that the government is aware that housing prices in popular non-prime locations have risen substantially, which has in turn priced out HDB upgraders.

'By providing sites in suburban locations that are within or near HDB estates, the completed units are likely to be less pricey as their land costs would be lower,' said Li Hiaw Ho, executive director for research at CB Richard Ellis (CBRE).

The homes could also be suitable for expats, who are increasingly coming to Singapore on local terms, said Ku Swee Yong, director of marketing and business development at Savills Singapore.

'As Singapore looks to grow its population, more expats earning in the mid-income range will be coming in,' Mr Ku said. 'These expats might not be able to afford homes in the prime districts and so could look at mass market homes.'

Among the sites offered, those at Lorong 2 Toa Payoh, Woodleigh Close, Tanah Merah Kechil and Bishan Street 14 are perceived as the best of the crop. These sites could fetch between $400 and $600 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr), CBRE's Mr Li said.

However, others said that it might have been more prudent of the government to put more sites on the reserve list instead of the confirmed list.

'The market can be very fickle,' said Nicholas Mak, director of research and consultancy at Knight Frank. There is good demand for mass market homes at the moment, but this might not be the case in a few months, he said.

On the other hand, the government's decision to hold off releasing more office sites was well received. In recent weeks, experts have said that Singapore could see a glut of office space after 2010 when several big projects - such as the Marina Bay Financial Centre and the redeveloped Ocean Building - come up.

Yesterday, the government said that it is only releasing one new white site on the confirmed list - bound by Rochor, North Bridge, Ophir and Beach roads and next to Parkview Square - for office and hotel use.

The white site can yield about 1.5 million sq ft of commercial space. Experts said that the site could go for $750-$1,000 psf ppr.

The only other new commercial site, located at North Buona Vista Drive, will be released on the reserve list. An estimated 1.3 million sq ft of commercial space can be developed on the land parcel.

The proximity of the site to one-north will likely see space there being sought after by the research institutes in one-north, said Mr Li of CBRE.

Govt's Slate Of Land Sales Seen As Prudent

Source : The Business Times, December 7, 2007

List for H1 next year is roughly similar in scale to that for H2 this year

The Ministry of National Development is adopting a measured strategy in its Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme, offering up a slate for the first-half of next year that's roughly similar in scale to the offerings for H2 2007.Noting that the government is taking a "prudent approach", some market watchers said the ministry is factoring in the recent caution in the property market triggered by the subprime crisis, but is not dumping land to ease a short-term supply crunch in, for instance, the office market.

"It's not so bad, just 11 sites in all on the confirmed list. And of these, the eight private residential sites are in suburban locations like Choa Chu Kang, Tampines and Yishun, to cater to upgrader demand," said a developer of yesterday's GLS announcement.

For the first half of next year, the government is offering a total of 37 sites in H1 2008 - 11 in the confirmed list (down from 14 for the current H2 2007 programme) and 26 in the reserve list (one site fewer than in the current list).

The latest sites will yield about 8,250 private homes including executive condos (ECs), 4.4 million sq ft in gross floor area of commercial space and 5,850 hotel rooms. This is similar to the 8,000 private homes, 3.8 million sq ft commercial GFA and 6,500 hotel rooms supply for H2 2007.

And reflecting a market-led approach, the bulk of the supply for H1 2008 will continue to come from the reserve list, where sites are launched for tender only upon application by developers.

The latest confirmed list - where sites are released according to a stated schedule regardless of demand - will yield about 3,000 private homes, 1.6 million sq ft of commercial GFA and 1,670 hotel rooms - again close to the 3,000 private homes, 1.78 million sq ft commercial GFA and 1,810 hotel rooms in the current slate.

In all, MND has introduced 17 new sites, six in the confirmed list and 11 through the reserve list.

None of the two new sites with substantial office components are in the financial district, including the sizzling Marina Bay area.

Instead, one site - in the confirmed list - engulfs the Parkview Square development and is bound by Rochor, North Bridge, Ophir and Beach roads, and the other, a reserve-list site, is at one north, next to Buona Vista MRT Station.

"The authorities are adopting a more cautious approach on CBD office supply, despite an immediate supply crunch, because the sub-prime crisis is expected to lead international banks to downsize and scale down their office space requirements," the developer suggested.

CB Richard Ellis executive director Li Hiaw Ho also described the government's tack as prudent.

"The current office crunch is a short-term problem. There's over 10 million sq ft of supply on the horizon, most of which will be completed in 2010 and beyond; so in the mid-term there will be sufficient supply. There's no point for the government to dump 99-year office sites now as the supply will only be completed in the mid-term because of construction time.

"That's why government is pushing for conversion of state properties and transitional, 15-year lease sites to address the office shortage in the short- term."

A seasoned market watcher observed a similarly measured strategy for the residential market, where the high-end segment is now taking a breather after runaway prices fuelled by speculators and specu-vestors earlier.

"MND's focus is on ensuring there's sufficient supply in the mid-tier and mass-market private housing segments. It's offering a spread of suburban sites for upgrader private condos as well as four EC sites (through the reserve list), to make sure such homes are within the reach of genuine home buyers," he added.

Three of the four EC sites are new additions - in Yishun, Jurong West and Sengkang East Avenue.

A developer welcomed the government's decision to include, among its slate of eight residential sites on the latest confirmed list, two landed housing plots - at Westwood Avenue in Jurong West, and Sembawang Greenvale (Phase 2). "There's really a shortage of landed housing sites," he added.

He also viewed positively the fact that both hotel sites on the confirmed list - at Race Course Road in the Little India area and Balestier/Ah Hood roads - are in locations suitable for three- and four-star hotels, which are witnessing strong demand from the India and China markets in particular.

MND also highlighted additional sources of space the government will make available in H1 2008 - including about 1.3 million sq ft of commercial GFA from sources like interim use of vacant state buildings and transitional office sites; about 110 private homes including 90 serviced apartments at one north; and 780 hotel rooms.

MND said that 9.5 million sq ft GFA of offices, 4 million sq ft of business park space, 5.6 million sq ft of shops and 8,850 hotel rooms are expected to be completed by 2010.

For the private housing sector, about 44,500 new private homes are slated for completion by 2010, of which 40 per cent or 17,800 units will be in the Core Central Region, which includes all the high-end locations.

On the Singapore Exchange yesterday, the All Singapore Equities (Property) Index ended 12.09 points higher at 1,391.57.

"They are not releasing that many sites. They are calibrating supply very carefully in response to the economy," the developer said.

S'pore Releases 12 New Land Sites For Property

Source : The Business Times, December 6, 2007

Singapore's government said on Thursday that it will release 17 new sites under its land programme in the first half of 2008, as the republic tries to improve land supply to control rising property prices.

Housing prices in Singapore have risen to their highest levels in a decade, helped by a strong economy, an influx of foreign buyers and a supply crunch.

The Ministry of National Development said in a statement that the new sites would comprise 12 private residential sites, one commercial site, three hotel sites and one site that could be used for either commercial or residential purposes.

Related Link -
MND news release

A total of 20 unsold sites would be carried over to the new year from the government's 2007 list, taking the total number of sites to 37, which it said could yield about 8,250 private residential units, 410,000 square metres of gross floor area for commercial space and 5,850 hotel rooms.

'This supply will be sufficient to meet the demand for the various properties over the medium term and support the continued growth of our economy,' the ministry said.

In late October the government announced measures to stop developers from offering delayed payments to home buyers on property purchases in a bid to cool the property sector.

Inflation in Singapore hit a 16-year high in October. -- REUTERS

Environment A Pillar Of CDL's Business

Source : The Strait Times, Dec 07, 2007

Property developer has incorporated eco-friendly practices into its business model

THE building and construction industry has long been fingered as a major culprit for the world's climate change woes, as forests absorbing carbon dioxide are decimated to make way for skyscrapers.

GREEN MESSAGE: CDL's South Beach project will feature an 'environmental filter' canopy. -- PHOTO: CITY DEVELOPMENTS

But home-grown property developer City Developments(CDL) hopes to show how the sector can improve its green rating.

For incorporating eco-friendly practices into its business model and promoting green outreach programmes, it has become the first private company to be honoured with the President'sAward for the Environment.

While many companies are taking green steps now, CDL made the environment a pillar of its business in the late 1990s, long before it became trendy.

'We embarked on our green journey with the simple intent of conductingour business in a socially responsible manner,' said managing director Kwek Leng Joo.

'So this award is truly an honour.'

Today, green features such as energy saving lights, pneumatic waste disposal systems and multiple recycling corners havebecome landmarks of CDL's 110 commercial and residential developments in Singapore.

A total of 16 of its buildings have also received the Green Mark Award conferred by the Building and Construction Authority to recognise environmentally friendlybuildings - the most for any company here.

To help get the green message out to its stakeholders, CDL has rolled out a slew of programmes over the years, including Project Eco-office with the Singapore Environment Council. The annual campaignpromotes green habits at the work place.

The developer has also started another pilot project recently. It is measuring the carbon emissions saved by adjusting air-conditioning temperatures up one degree in five buildings here, including RepublicPlaza in Raffles Place.

'We hope to show that small actions, at no cost, can make a big difference,' said a CDL spokesman.

More Hotel Plots Up For Sale Next Year

Source : The Strait Times, Dec 07, 2007

TEN hotel sites will be made available next year to meet demand from the fast-growing tourism sector.

Three are new sites in the Government's land sales programme for next year, while the others are carried over from last year's programme, said theMinistry of National Development yesterday.

One of the new sites is between Balestier Road and Ah Hood Road, near the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall. It had been put up for sale before but there were no takers, so the Government enlarged the parcelto include a park and an adjacent land plot.

The other two new sites are downtown. One is at the corner of Gopeng and Peck Seah Streets, and can host 330 hotel rooms. The other is at the corner of Clemenceau Avenue and Havelock Road, and canaccommodate 260 rooms.

The Balestier Road site, which can hold 675 rooms, is on the confirmed list and will be released in March. The only other hotel site on the confirmed list is at the junction of Race Course and Bukit Timah Roads. It will belaunched for sale in February.

All the other hotel sites on sale, including the Gopeng Street and Clemenceau Avenue plots, are on the reserve list. This means they will not be launched for tender until a developer puts in an acceptable bid.

Theother reserve list plots are at Victoria Street, New Bridge Road, Kallang Road, Jalan Bukit Merah, Jalan Besar and Bernam Street.