AWARDS: Wing Tai Holdings’ timeless creations

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/ EdgeProp
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October 29, 2017 3:00 PM SGT
Source: Wing Tai Holdings
Cheng: Wing Tai will be open to all opportunities for prime or suburban sites
Singapore-listed property developer Wing Tai Holdings’ deputy chairman Edmund Cheng believes that architecture should evoke timelessness. “It has to have enduring appeal regardless of changing tastes and fashions,” he says.
Wing Tai not only bagged two awards for The Tembusu (Development Excellence and Innovation) but also the Top Developer Award at the inaugural EdgeProp Singapore Excellence Awards 2017 on Oct 23. “The recognition drives us to do better in our new projects,” says Cheng. “We will continue to be forward-looking and innovative, keeping pace with the transformative rhythm of urban cities in Asia, but still retaining our heritage, spirit and all that is meaningful to us.”
What is important is that the projects are customer-centric, he adds. “In Chinese, we describe it as '人文关怀'— caring for the homeowners, the users of the property and for humanity.”
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Working with acclaimed architects Wing Tai’s projects are designed in collaboration with like-minded, acclaimed architects, regardless of which market segment the developer is targeting, according to Cheng. “We have established a long-standing relationship with these master architects, and our winning partnerships have become a part of our cherished heritage.”
For The Tembusu, which was completed last year, Wing Tai worked closely with Arc Studio Architecture + Urbanism’s Khoo Peng Beng and Belinda Huang. The duo had also designed two other projects for Wing Tai — the 147-unit L’Viv on Newton Road (completed in 2013) and the 496-unit Foresque Residences on Petir Road, off Chestnut Avenue (2015).
French architect and 2008 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate Jean Nouvel designed Wing Tai’s 43-unit ultra-luxury development Le Nouvel Ardmore in Singapore and the 195-unit Le Nouvel KLCC in Kuala Lumpur. Japanese architect Toyo Ito and 2013 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate was behind the design of the developer’s 176-unit Belle Vue Residences on Oxley Walk (2010) and the 469-unit The Crest on Prince Charles Crescent (2017).
Foresque Residences on Petir Road was designed by Arc Studio, the same architectural firm that designed The Tembusu and L’Viv
Going beyond the status quo
Wing Tai is known for creating projects with environmentally sensitive designs. “Our creative intent is not about building icons; rather, we care about designing a living space that caters to the lifestyle needs of homeowners,” says Cheng.
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Projects that have stood the test of time include 8 Orange Grove (completed in 1989), Maplewoods (1997), The Tomlinson (2002), Draycott Eight (2005), Belle Vue Residences (2010) and Helios Residences (2011).
“Over the past five decades, we have consistently delivered quality and value to our customers,” says Cheng. “Through our dedication to design and detail, we shall continue to develop premium properties of lasting value for discerning homeowners and investors.”
Wing Tai was also part of the consortium that invested in the conservation and restoration of the House of Tan Yeok Nee (built between 1882 and 1885) and adapted it for modern use. Building on its heritage Cheng is confident The Tembusu, completed last year, will have a similar appeal.
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Building on its heritage
The Tembusu is built on Wing Tai’s “heritage site”. Cheng’s father, Cheng Yik Hung, had purchased the two parcels of land on Tampines Road for his garment factory in 1966 and 1970. In fact, Wing Tai was the first garment manufacturer from Hong Kong to set up a base in Singapore.
Even after Wing Tai expanded into property development and fashion retail in the 1980s, it still maintained its corporate headquarters on Tampines Road until August 2007, when it relocated to Winsland House I. The 10-storey commercial buildings, Winsland House I and II, as well as Lanson Place on Killiney Road-Penang Road in prime Orchard Road district, were developed by Wing Tai and remain prized commercial assets in the group’s portfolio today.
Under Cheng and his brother, Wing Tai chairman and managing director Cheng Wai Keung, the group has expanded into property development, hospitality (Lanson Place) and retail. It is one of the biggest distributors in Singapore, representing a multitude of retail brands such as Adidas, G2000, Topshop and Uniqlo. Besides Singapore, the group has a presence in China, Hong Kong and Malaysia.
Developers active in acquiring sites
In July, Wing Tai and Keppel Land were awarded a 99-year leasehold, 1.7ha residential site on Serangoon North Avenue 1 in a Government Land Sales (GLS) tender. They had put in a winning bid of $446.28 million for the hotly contested site. The partners are expected to develop a 600-unit residential project on the site, which is located within the mature housing estate of Serangoon Gardens.
The Serangoon North Avenue 1 site was so popular it attracted 16 bids. Across the road, a consortium led by Oxley paid $499 million for the Serangoon Ville privatised HUDC estate in July after forking out $575 million for another en bloc site of a privatised HUDC estate, Rio Casa on Hougang Avenue 7, at end-May.
On Oct 20, Hong Kong-listed Chinese developer Logan Property Holdings Co’s Singapore company agreed to buy Florence Regency on Hougang Avenue 2 for $629 million. This is the second site purchased by the Chinese developer, which had made a joint bid of more than $1 billion for a GLS site on Stirling Road in May with another Chinese developer, Nanshan Group. The price translated into $1,051 psf per plot ratio (psf ppr). That bid started the ball rolling in terms of record prices for GLS sites, and added momentum to collective sales.
Logan Property’s acquisition of Florence Regency on Oct 20 for $629 million, followed by the recent sale of Dunearn Court to Roxy-Pacific Holdings for $36.3 million, bring the number of collective sales this year to 18, with a total sales value of $6.75 billion.
“Developers are showing a demand for land and looking to various sources of supply, including limited GLS sites and en bloc sites,” observes Wing Tai’s Cheng. “Attracted by the high prices some developers have paid in recent en bloc sales, homeowners are quite willing to cash out.”
Market still full of uncertainties
Nevertheless, Ching believes the market is still full of uncertainties. “Of late, some developers have shown a growing, almost impatient, demand for land. Some have taken to bidding for sites at record-high prices. This may lead to high selling prices of new units, which may not be sustainable in the long term,” he warns.
With an increasing supply of en bloc projects being put on the market, developers will be able to pick and choose, adds Cheng. Wing Tai will be “open to all opportunities” for prime or suburban sites.
“It is important for the industry to ensure that we have sustainable growth,” Cheng points out. Buyers have to exercise care to invest in projects that will yield good value for them.” He feels that Singapore real estate investment is still a good bet in a diversified portfolio, “if you take a longer-term view”.
Belle Vue Residences was designed by acclaimed Japanese architect Toyo Ito, who also designed The Crest
This article appeared in EdgeProp Pullout, Issue 803 (Oct 30, 2017).