Saturday, November 1, 2008

Marina Barrage, An Engineering Feat, Finally Opens

Source : The Business Times, November 1, 2008

AFTER decades of planning and years of design and construction, the Marina Barrage was finally opened yesterday.

Due to poor soil conditions, piling at the site is one of the deepest in Singapore. The pivot blocks supporting the 70-tonne crest gates had to be positioned to within an accuracy of 2 millimetres

Marking an important milestone in Singapore's water story, the barrage creates a reservoir that collects rainwater from the largest catchment in Singapore in the most densely built up part of the island. The water collected can then be treated to drinking water standards using advance membrane technology. It can also check flooding in the city through its 5-metre high crest gates controlled by computers.

At the opening ceremony yesterday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called the project an engineering feat. Due to poor soil conditions, piling at the site is one of the deepest in Singapore. The pivot blocks supporting the 70-tonne crest gates had to be positioned to within an accuracy of 2 millimetres.

While lauding Singapore's effective water management, he also called for Singaporeans to take ownership of the environment. He said that Singaporeans have to share the passion to keep the environment clean and green if the island is to maintain its sustainable living state.

CapitaLand's Q3 Profit Falls 25.6% On Shrinking Home Sales

Source : The Business Times, November 1, 2008

CAPITALAND, Singapore's largest developer, yesterday said that net profit for its third quarter ended Sept 30, 2008 fell 25.6 per cent to $419.4 million, from $563.9 million a year ago as home sales fell.

Revenue in Q3 2008 fell to $597.2 million, down 33.3 per cent from $895.8 million in Q3 2007. Turnover was hit by lower sales revenue from development projects in core markets.

But the decline was mitigated by stronger rentals from investment properties and higher fee-based income from real estate investment trusts (Reits) and funds under management, the company said.

Earnings for Q3 2008 were also boosted by gains from the divestment of Capital Tower Beijing in China and 1 George Street in Singapore, as well as the injection of the Raffles City properties in China into the Raffles City China Fund.

The divestments also helped the company increase its cash position to $4.2 billion. But earnings were also partially offset by impairment losses for some investments in Japan and China and higher finance costs.

Earnings per share for the third quarter fell to 14.9 cents, from 20.1 in Q3 2007. CapitaLand's assets under management stood at $24.8 billion as at Sept 30, 2008, up 18 per cent compared to the previous quarter.

For the first nine months of 2008, CapitaLand's net profit fell 43.3 per cent to $1.2 billion, from $2.1 billion a year ago. Revenue for the first nine months similarly fell 17.0 per cent to $2.0 billion, from $2.5 billion for the first three quarters of 2007.

So far this year, CapitaLand's Singapore residential unit has contributed the most to revenue. But buying sentiment is expected to remain cautious in Q4 2008, the developer said.

But the Singapore residential unit expects its earnings to benefit from the progressive recognition of strong sales achieved over 2006 and 2007, when the company had accelerated its launches to tap into the then-buoyant market.

Revenue recognition for The Seafront on Meyer is expected to commence in 2009. CapitaLand may progressively release units at The Wharf Residence and Latitude condominiums for sale in Q4 2008, the developer said. Its development at the former Farrer Court site is also expected to be launch-ready in 2009.

CapitaLand is well-positioned to ride out the global financial and economic uncertainties, said chairman Richard Hu.

'It has the strong balance sheet, liquidity and diversified sources of funding necessary to act on investment opportunities that will arise in the current capital-constrained environment,' he noted.

Chief executive Liew Mun Leong pointed out that the company divested mature properties in Singapore, China and Malaysia and increased its cash position to $4.2 billion in the third quarter. It also reduced its debt to equity ratio to 0.51, from 0.68 in H1 2008.

'This strong balance sheet will be particularly useful in the current global financial crisis which has brought down not only Wall Street's blue-chip financial institutions but also created in its wake a global recessionary environment,' Mr Liew said.

'With the situation deteriorating rapidly, we are strategically watching the distressed markets, very carefully seeking out opportunities to make the right acquisitions at the right price.'

CapitaLand will continue to seek out opportunities as before, focusing capital and human resources into its existing established sectors of residential, retail, commercial, hospitality, integrated developments and financial services in core markets, he added.

CapitaLand shares closed unchanged at $2.85 yesterday. The stock has lost 54.6 per cent so far this year.

SPIO To Be One-Stop Portal For State Tenders: SLA

Source : The Business Times, October 31, 2008

THE Singapore Land Authority (SLA) said yesterday that from tomorrow onwards, state tenders will be launched only on its State Property Online Information (SPIO) portal.

Such tenders were previously posted on both the Government Electronic Business Portal (GeBIZ) and SPIO.

SLA said the move is aimed at providing a seamless and one-stop information update on state tenders, which include sites for office, commercial, food and beverage, education, lifestyle, residential, industrial, civic, community and institutional use.

The statutory board said it recently revamped its website sg - and users can now follow the stages of the state tender, download all tender documents and check what properties are up for tender.

They can also check when tenders open and close, the bids for each property, and finally the tender results and final award.

A new archival feature of past tender information allows users to do market comparisons for more informed investment decisions.

The enhanced SPIO also includes better categorisation of information through building types - that is, whole buildings, residential units, office units, retail units.

It is easier to find out which properties are available at a click.

Members of the public can also view and rent properties that are available for residential use, such as black-and-white bungalows, apartments, semi-detached and terraces through SLA's open bidding system.

New Brands At Orchard Central

Source : The Business Times, October 31, 2008

ORCHARD Central, Far East Organization's upcoming mall, has signed up more than 100 tenants so far - including several names that are new to Singapore.

The 250,000 sq ft mall is now 60 per cent leased with five months to go before it opens its doors to shoppers.

'We are very encouraged by our tenants' positive response to Orchard Central to date,' said Far East deputy director for retail management Susan Leng.

Fashionistas can look forward to Spanish brand Desigual's flagship store in Singapore which will take up 3,369 square feet of space at the mall.

Other well-known labels like Tyan and Levi's Dockers are also among the confirmed tenants.

There will also be a wide choice of new dining options including the first Ootoya branch in Singapore. Japan's Ootoya has a chain of almost 200 restaurants and is known for its healthy, affordable cuisine.

Also new to the food scene here is Duo Le Restaurant, a luxury restaurant chain from Shaanxi province in China, which will be opening a 2,700 sq ft eatery in the mall.

The mall will also have a new chic-casual dessert restaurant set partly in an outdoor verandah on the eighth floor - developed by The Happy People Co - which runs the Ben & Jerry's stores in Singapore.

And as previously announced, it will also be home to the first Mediterranean-themed market place, The Med, in basement two.

Far East is looking mainly for mid-range tenants because the mall is aimed at young working professionals.

In line with this, Orchard Central will also offer its adventure-seeking patrons a chance to get an adrenaline fix by climbing and rappelling off Singapore's first and only five- storey Ferrata Wall located inside the mall.

Rents at the mall range from $20 per sq ft per month (psf pm) to more than $70 psf pm, Ms Leng has said previously.

Orchard Central will open in the first quarter of 2009.

New Orchard Mall 60% Leased Ahead Of Opening

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 31, 2008

Orchard Central and other upcoming malls to offer retail space even as economy slows down

ORCHARD Central, the first of three new malls springing up in Orchard Road, is already 60 per cent leased five months ahead of its opening - despite the murky outlook for the economy, including retail spending.

Retail sales have started to slow, albeit slightly, just as Singapore's premier shopping belt is set to boast three new, quality malls.

Lend Lease is building 313@Somerset next door while CapitaLand and Hong Kong's Sun Hung Kai are building Ion Orchard on top of Orchard MRT station.

It has been a decade since a mall was built from scratch in Orchard Road, said Ms Susan Leng, Far East's deputy director, retail management.

Orchard Central, which has 12 floors and two basements, is expected to open in April, ahead of the other two malls.

Far East is working hard to set the mall apart. It aims to open till 11pm daily and its rooftop garden and a covered walkway will be open to the public 24 hours.

The mall even has a four-storey-high rock-climbing wall aimed at attracting its target group of shoppers aged 21 to 35.

Mr T.K. Goh, founder of The Happy People, which is behind the Ben & Jerry's stores in Singapore, will be setting up the mall's biggest food and beverage (F&B) outlet.

His ice-cream parlour-cum-restaurant and bar will take up a whopping 6,000sqft on the eighth floor.

On weekends, he plans to keep his shop open till 3am or 4am.

The mall's new F&B tenants also include a restaurant brand from Shanxi, China, and a Japanese brand.

Rents at the mall, said Ms Leng, remain in the range of $20 to $70 per sq ft, though they may soften a little going forward, depending on the type of tenants and space taken.

Data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority shows that shop rents dipped 0.6 per cent islandwide in the third quarter, reversing growth of 5.2 per cent in the second quarter.

Retail sales volume fell 1.5 per cent year-on-year from June to August, due to cautious local spending and lower demand from tourists, the Monetary Authority of Singapore said in its latest macroeconomic review. It added that retailers could see slower business towards Christmas and into next year.

'Retail sales have slowed but not significantly yet. But there are forward concerns among tenants. It's a confidence issue,' said an industry source.

Knight Frank's deputy managing director, Mr Danny Yeo, said Orchard Central and Ion Orchard started marketing their space from mid- to late last year so they are doing relatively well given current market conditions.

'Those that started marketing recently and are about to ramp up marketing efforts will face more challenging times.'

Specialists' Centre, Meritus Mandarin Hotel and 313@Somerset are among those with new space available on Orchard.

'Landlords are still holding out. The real test will come after seasonal sales, after the Chinese New Year period. Tenants will try as much as possible to drum up sales now,' said another industry source.

MND Changes Government Land Sales Programme For Greater Flexibility

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 31 October 2008

The National Development Ministry has announced changes to the Government Land Sales (GLS) programme for the rest of 2008.

It said that while Singapore's fundamentals remain sound, the global economic uncertainties have affected the outlook for the country's economy and property market.

There were three main changes.

Firstly, most of the sites under the confirmed list are being transferred to the reserve list.

This gives flexibility as the government will only release a site for sale if an interested party submits an acceptable minimum price.

Secondly, the confirmed list for the GLS programme for the first half of 2009 will be suspended.

Thirdly, the existing ban on conversion of office space in the central area to other uses will be lifted.

The temporary ban had started in May 2007 to ease the office space crunch. - CNA/yt

Analysts, Developers Applaud MND's Move To Reduce Land Sales

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 31 October 2008

The Singapore government has slashed the number of sites it is offering for sale in anticipation of falling demand due to the poor global economy.

The Ministry of National Development (MND) has said no sites will be released under the confirmed list in the first half of 2009.

And it has cut down the remaining sites for sale for the rest of 2008 from seven to just one. Five sites were moved to a reserve list, while one was taken off entirely.

The measures are expected to allow the market to better respond to the current dynamic economic conditions.

The last time the government cut back on land sales was exactly seven years ago - a month after the September 11 terror attack in the United States.

The global economy was then facing uncertainty and volatility similar to the current environment.

Analysts praised the government's latest response.

Managing director of Cushman & Wakefield, Donald Han, said: "I think this is a very good, swift, prudent government reaction to the issues involved in the marketplace over here. By not choking the market with confirmed list sites, you elevate yourself from low or opportunistic bids."

And developers agree.

Hong Leong Group said: "This is a timely move by the government. Given the unprecedented global financial crisis that we are in, the steep tumble in stock markets and serious slump in the property sector, any action that can alleviate the present situation will be welcomed."

The MND said Singapore's fundamentals remain sound, but global uncertainties have affected the country's economic outlook, as well as the property market.

Analysts noted that some of the sites that were moved to the reserve list carry billion dollar price tags. These are likely to require foreign investors with deep pockets.

Han said: "What the government is trying to do is to not force it out into the market when the market is not ready to put a bid for the site. Some sites the government is trying to launch are billion dollar ticket items, like the one in Rochor-Ophir and the site at Stamford Road location.

"A lot of the sites require participation of foreign investors. And if you look at global investment transactions, the total activity has dwindled by as much as 60 to 70 per cent just over the last three quarters.

"And the number of activity is likely to reduce further in the current quarter. If you're looking for participation by foreign investors, it's going to be a lull period."

Under the reserve list system, the government will only release a site for sale if an interested party submits an application with a minimum price that is acceptable to the government.

The situation is likely to improve towards the end of 2009, as construction costs come down.

Han said: "The construction sector had a good run in the last 12 months. Construction market tends to lag the real property market about six months to a year.

"We probably expect next year to be a good time to launch some of these sites. And we probably expect developers to come in and capitalise on lower construction costs next year and start bidding on sites. Activity will definitely pick up in 2009."

The government also said it will allow developers to convert office space in the central area to other uses. This was previously disallowed in response to an office space crunch.

Developers now have the option to build anything from serviced apartments to hotels, depending on demand.

Han said: "It's not a supply crunch issue but demand sustainability. Now it's best to let market forces decide." - CNA/yt


Source :《联合早报》November 1, 2008

金融海啸导致环球经济陷入动荡不安,我国经济和房地产市场也被拖累,因此政府昨天宣布暂时冻结政府售地计划(GLS);目前在“正选”名单(confirmed list)上的地段,将被转到“备售”名单(reserve list),而明年上半年的政府售地计划的全部地段也将被拨入备售名单中。










本地私宅房地产大王丰隆集团(Hong Leong Group)的发言人则说:“政府采取了适时的举动。考虑到前所未有的环球金融危机导致股市狂泻,也拖累房地产领域严重衰退,任何能够缓和目前情况的举动都会受欢迎。”




卓登国际(Chesterton International)研究部主管陈瑞谨说:“这显示市建局对前景的担忧。为了确保私宅价格和办公楼租金不会像1997年暴发金融危机时暴跌的情况重演,它们不得不果断地采取行动。”


空置十年原定下月招标 首都戏院退入备售名单

Source :《联合早报》November 1, 2008

被空置了近十年的首都戏院(Capitol Theatre),将不会按照原定计划在下个月推出市场招标,而是被“搬”到备售名单中继续等待机会。

至于已经推出市场招标的梧槽路(Rochor Rd)白色地段,以及蒙巴登路(Mountbatten Rd)的短期办公楼地段,也中途“喊停”——招标活动被取消,并即刻“搬”到备售名单中,只有在发展商提出申请,而价格又达到政府的要求时,才会被“勾”出来招标。


正选名单中七地段 几乎都受到影响

市区重建局昨天为售地计划作出“大调整”,目前正选名单中的七幅地段几乎都受到影响。除了上述四幅地段,另外三幅分别是位于杨厝港路的住宅地段、花柏山附近、武吉慈明(Bukit Chermin)的酒店地段,以及三巴旺绿林(Sembawang Greenvale)第三期的住宅地段。


而另外两幅地段因为标价过低而被市建局拒绝颁售——淡滨尼10道的住宅地段,以及莫罕默苏丹路(Mohamed Sultan Rd)的短期办公楼地段,市建局昨天也宣布将它们拨入备售名单。

至于原定在10月份拨入备售名单的山景道(Hillview Ave)地段,将展延至市建局完成其检讨工作为止。市建局透露,该局正重新检讨有关地段的规划范围。







碧山怡然阁组屋 首日发售仅千人参观

Source :《联合早报》November 1, 2008


将建在碧山24街的怡然阁(Natura Loft),是第四批私人组屋,昨天上午10时发售,但由于一些单位是历来最贵的,而昨天也是工作日,再加上受当前金融危机的影响,因此发售第一天仅有1000人参观示范单位。当年首日参观宏茂桥和文庆路私人组屋示范单位的人数分别是3000和8000名。









居住在碧山22街五房式组屋的彭丽霞(53岁,退休者)昨天陪朋友参观示范单位。她说:“私人住宅价格正在下滑,70万元足以购买新的公寓单位,我比较倾向用同笔钱购买公寓,因为设施较多,保安较森严。所以,如果真的要付70万元,我宁愿购买附近的碧山共管公寓Clover by the Park。”