Benham and Reeves showcases One Thames City, London Square Greenwich

/ EdgeProp Singapore |
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SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - For those marketing overseas property in Singapore, especially UK residential property, 2020 was fraught with challenges: effects of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Many countries around the world have had to lock down cities in order to curb the spread of the virus. Singapore’s own “circuit breaker” lasted 2½ months — from April 7 to June 18 last year. A curb on physical property marketing and sales activities during the circuit breaker period led many property agents and developers to migrate to the digital space: consumer seminars turned into webinars and showflat visits became virtual tours.
Despite the slow sales for the first nine months of 2020, “hundreds of people” registered interest and attended webinars conducted by London estate agency Benham and Reeves during the circuit breaker period, according to Doris Tan, the firm’s regional director. “It gave us confidence that there was still interest in the London property market,” she says.
Tan: Developers are willing to absorb the stamp duty surcharge, with some offering a bigger price discount to buyers (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp SIngapore)

‘Very selective’

In 4Q2020, sales began to revive. As large gatherings were not allowed, Tan switched to one-to-one sessions held by appointment only. Instead of renting an event room at a five-star hotel, these private sessions were held at The Great Room, the co-working space at Raffles Hotel Arcade, where Benham and Reeves took up an office suite last October. “More people have visited us at our new premises, which in turn has generated more sales activities,” says Tan.
Since the pandemic last year, Benham and Reeves has been “very selective” in terms of projects that the firm represents, adds Tan. Like many companies, the firm has had to “think outside the box” to create events that will attract both new and existing clients.
In March this year, Benham and Reeves together with UK developer Berkeley Group invited their valued clients to a private exhibition, Once Upon a Time on The Orient Express, at Gardens by the Bay. The 21,528 sq ft exhibition space features two original carriages which are regarded as a National Treasure of France along with a 158-year-old locomotive.
Given the novelty of the event, many clients registered their interest to attend. Due to safe management measures, only 20 selected guests were invited for that evening. The event generated some sales for Berkeley Group’s projects that evening, says Tan.

Regeneration project at Nine Elms

One-Thames-City-with-No.8-Block - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
The 53-storey No. 8 One Thames City is the tallest of three residential towers at Chinese developer R&F Group’s flagship development at Nine Elms (PictureL R&F Group)
This Mother’s Day weekend (May 8-9), Benham and Reeves will showcase One Thames City by Guangzhou-based Chinese developer R&F Group. One Thames City is R&F’s flagship billion-dollar, mixed-use scheme in London. R&F and joint-venture partner CC Land had purchased the site from Hong Kong-listed Chinese conglomerate Wanda Group in 2017, when the latter was divesting its overseas portfolio in order to pare its debt. R&F purchased the neighbouring site, One Nine Elms, from Wanda too.
Located at Nine Elms on the south bank of the River Thames in London’s Zone 1, One Thames City will have 12 buildings when completed. There will be 1,417 new residences, shops, restaurants, and more than 120,000 sq ft of commercial space centred around a 2.5-acre (1.01ha) public space and linear park.
Award-winning UK landscape architecture and urban design practice, Gillespies, designed the public space and linear park as a Great Lawn, with a network of walkways, cycle paths and intimate green spaces along the river.
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Artist’s impression of the living room of a two-bedroom unit at No. 8 One Thames City, which has a mix of one- to five-bedroom apartments (Picture: R&F Group)
Meanwhile, the design architect for One Thames City is Skidmore Owings and Merrill, famous for its other skyscrapers around the world: Wallich Residence at Guoco Tower, Singapore’s tallest building; the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest tower in the world; and One World Trade Centre in New York City — the tallest in the US.
At One Thames City, the tallest of three residential towers is No. 8, which stands at 53 storeys and 180m tall. The building topped out last December and is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2022. It has a mix of one- to five-bedroom apartments with 999-year lease.
The interiors of the apartments are designed by HBA Residential, the international residential specialists of American hospitality design firm, Hirsch-Bedner Associates. Amenities and services include a wellness centre, swimming pool, gym, private dining, cinema, business centre and 24-hour concierge. There is a private entrance lobby and courtyard with secure valet parking.
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Residents’ amenities include an indoor pool at No. 8 One Thames City (Picture: R&F Group)

Apple to lease space at Battersea

One Thames City is next door to the US Embassy, within proximity to the upcoming Nine Elms tube station and the Vauxhall station, with the West End and City of London less than 10 minutes away. Within One Thames City is the upcoming 203-room Park Hyatt London River Thames, which is scheduled to open in 2022.
Further down at Nine Elms is Battersea Power Station. Apple has agreed to lease the two million sq ft new office space within the historic power station. The space is being refurbished by international architectural practice Wilkinson Eyre.
With Apple moving into Battersea Power Station, there will be more life and activities in the Nine Elms area which has been gentrified over the past decade, says Tan. “The area is more mature now.”
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Facilities at No. 8 One Thames City include a library for residents’ use (Picture: R&F Group)
During the weekend launch on May 8-9, units at No. 8 One Thames City will be offered for sale at prices starting from GBP1.1 million ($2.03 million) for a one-bedder, from GBP1.2 million for a two-bedroom unit, and upwards of GBP1.5 million for a three-bedroom apartment.
Payment terms are as follows: 5% option upon exchange of contract, another 5% deposit payable three months later, followed by another 5% payable 12 months after the exchange. The next 10% downpayment is due 15 months after the exchange date, with the balance 75% payable upon completion of the project.
One-Thames-City-Private-Dining-Lounge - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
There is also a private dining and lounge for residents to entertain friends at No. 8 One Thames City (Picture: R&F Group)
From April 1 this year, foreigners have to pay a 2% stamp duty surcharge. “However, developers are willing to absorb the stamp duty surcharge, with some offering a bigger price discount to entice buyers,” says Tan.
For a GBP1 million property purchase, the surcharge will translate into an increase in stamp duty by some GBP20,000, from GBP73,750 to GBP93,750. “An extra 2% is insignificant if capital appreciation is more than 2% in the longer term,” reasons Tan. “Moreover, in the UK, stamp duty is only payable on completion of a project.”
For instance, at One Thames City, the developer is willing to offer incentives including double-digit discounts on prices. This is more than enough to offset the stamp duty surcharge, especially if there are capital gains in the future, she notes.

Boutique development in Greenwich

London-Square-Greenwich - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
The exterior of the five-storey London Square Greenwich, with its stepped brick façade and linear curves designed by London-based Formation Architects (Picture: London Square)
The following weekend (May 15-16), Benham and Reeves will be showcasing London Square Greenwich. The apartment block with just 46 units is by developer London Square, which has a GBP2 billion development pipeline of projects that focuses mainly on the capital city and its surrounding areas.
London Square Greenwich is located at Royal Hill, in the heart of West Greenwich Village in Zone 2. Designed by British architectural firm Formation Architects, London Square Greenwich’s five-storey stepped brick façade and linear curves were inspired by celebrated Dutch modernist architect Willem Dudok. The façade is also in keeping with the Grade II listed former Greenwich Town Hall located opposite, as well as the architectural narrative of Royal Hill, with its range of styles, from quaint cottages to Georgian houses.
From London Square Greenwich, it is a four-minute walk to Greenwich Park (one of eight Royal Parks in London), a 183-acre landscaped park with formal gardens, ancient trees and a deer park. The Greenwich Market, with stalls selling food, antiques, jewellery and fashion, is just a six-minute walk away. The Thames, with its riverside walks, is a 12-minute walk, close to the Cutty Sark, the historic sailing ship which stands in dry dock.
The living room of one of the apartments at London Square Greenwich, which is a mix of one- to three-bedders (Picture: London Square)
Greenwich station is just a five-minute walk from the new development, and an eight-minute ride to London Bridge, 10 minutes to Canary Wharf and 14 minutes to the City at Cannon Street. It is also 24 minutes to London City Airport. By the river from Greenwich Pier, the Uber Thames Clipper reaches Tower Bridge in the City in 20 minutes, and the London Eye on the South Bank in 35 minutes. The Emirates Air Line, a cable-car link across the Thames at Greenwich Peninsula, has regular services to the Royal Docks, south of the Thames.
“Greenwich is a truly magical part of London, with inspiring architecture, history and culture, a village atmosphere with thriving shops, cafes and restaurants, the riverside location and wide open spaces offering a fabulous lifestyle, yet so well connected to the City and West End,” says Jo McDonagh, London Square sales and marketing director in a press statement. “Our boutique development is a rare opportunity to invest in an outstanding collection of high-quality apartments, the only newbuild homes in the area.”
The 46 apartments at London Square Greenwich have a 999-year lease and are a mix of one- to three-bedroom units, with sizes ranging from 547 to 953 sq ft. The apartment block is expected to be completed sometime in the second or third quarter of 2022.
Prices start from GBP470,000 for a one-bedder, GBP660,000 for a two-bedder and GBP750,000 for a three-bedder. “With only 46 units and situated in an area that’s popular among local home buyers, it’s rare for such a project to be launched in Singapore,” says Tan. “These units are priced to sell.”
Artist's impression of a bedroom of London Square Greenwich (Picture: London Square)

Hongkongers and Americans — the biggest groups of foreign buyers

According to Benham and Reeves, Hong Kong residents purchased 1,932 homes in the UK worth GBP959 million between July last year and March this year.
In fact, buyers from Hong Kong accounted for 8.5% of purchases by foreigners in prime Central London last year, according to Knight Frank. The French were the top buyers, contributing to 14.6% of overall foreign purchases, with Hong Kong buyers in second place, followed by Americans and mainland Chinese.
According to South China Morning Post in a April 27 report, the UK government has made it easier for three million Hongkongers who qualify for a British National (overseas) passport to relocate to Britain with their dependants. They can stay and work or study for extendable periods of 12 months, with a path to citizenship. The move came immediately after China officially imposed a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong in June last year.
The courtyard garden at London Square Greenwich, which is located just a four-minute walk from the Greenwich Park, one of London’s eight Royal Parks (Picture: London Square)
In the US, anti-Asian hate crime reported to police in 15 of America’s largest cities and counties rose 169%, from 32 to 86, in 1Q2021, compared to the same period a year ago. This is according to an analysis of official preliminary data by the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, in the US.
New York saw the greatest increase — 223% — while San Francisco saw a 140% jump over the same period. Los Angeles and Boston saw reported crimes increase 80% and 60% respectively over the same timeframe.
“We did see more Chinese leaving the US and moving to London recently,” concedes Tan. Likewise, Hong Kong saw a significant increase in London home purchases last year, she adds.
“London property has always been a safe haven for investors around the world,” says Tan. “In good times or in bad times, it will still attract buyers. There is no better time to purchase as developers are more willing to give discounts and incentives due to Covid-19. As soon as the situation improves and things return to normalcy, developers will withdraw all these incentives. So, there is no better time to buy than now.”

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