CapitaLand’s Bridge+ flexible workspace to open in the CBD on Jan 2

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/ EdgeProp Singapore
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December 18, 2020 6:00 AM SGT
SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - Located at the intersection of Robinson Road, Maxwell Road and Anson Road is a new 29-storey, Grade-A office tower at 79 Robinson Road. The building with 518,000 sq ft of net lettable space is a redevelopment of the former CPF Building by Singapore property giant CapitaLand, in partnership with one of Japan’s largest trading companies, Mitsui & Co, and Japanese real estate company, Tokyo Tatemono Co.
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Seventh floor reception of Bridge+ 79 Robinson Road (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
The neighbourhood is going to be transformed as AXA Tower located across the road will be redeveloped by Chinese tech giant Alibaba, in a joint venture with a consortium led by Singapore property firm Perennial Real Estate Holdings. When the new project is completed, it will be linked underground to 79 Robinson Road and Tanjong Pagar MRT Station.
The office tower at 79 Robinson Road obtained Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) under unusual circumstances: It was at the end of April, right in the middle of the Covid-19 “circuit breaker” when works at most construction sites were suspended to contain the virus outbreak in foreign workers’ dormitories.
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“It’s one of those rare buildings that managed to get TOP this year and during the circuit breaker,” says Chew Peet Mun, CapitaLand managing director of workspace and residential. “It took a bit of creativity, working with the different stakeholders, contractors, consultants and even the various government authorities.”
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Chew: As a real estate developer and owner of a sizeable portfolio of properties, we have seen how such flexible workspaces have a multiplier effect on the community and how the whole ecosystem is enriched (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Based on CapitaLand’s 3Q2020 update, the building was 73.8% leased as at end-September. Office leasing specialist Corporate Locations reckons it is about 80% leased today. As 79 Robinson Road is the newest Grade-A office building in town this year, Chew says he is “quietly confident that by early next year, we will be in a position to announce much higher occupancy”.
Anchor tenants at 79 Robinson Road include European financial services firm Allianz, global private banking group EFG Bank, digital infrastructure company Equinix, Hong Kong’s leading retail insurance broker Howden Insurance, Japanese law firm Nishimura & Asahi, and Scottish drinks firm William Grant & Sons.
Taking up 56,000 sq ft across three floors of 79 Robinson Road is Bridge+, CapitaLand’s own flexible workspace offering. Given its location in the CBD, Bridge+ 79 Robinson Road is positioned as a financial technology (FinTech) ecosystem.
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One of the communal areas at Bridge+ 79 Robinson Road (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

‘Multiplier effect’

This marks the first CBD location in Singapore for Bridge+, after its flagship Bridge+ Ascent was launched at Science Park 1 in October 2017. To date, the flexible workspace provider has a footprint of about 400,000 sq ft, which extends from Singapore to Bangalore in India; and Chongqing, Dalian, Hangzhou, Shanghai and Suzhou in China. Bridge+ 79 Robinson Road will be the ninth location.
“As a real estate developer and owner of a sizeable portfolio of properties, we have seen how such flexible workspaces have a multiplier effect on the community and how the whole ecosystem is enriched,” adds Chew.
CapitaLand’s total assets under management is $133.3 billion, as at end-September. Office makes up 22% of the portfolio, while business parks, industrial and logistics spaces account for 15%. “We are the owner of a collective portfolio of buildings,” says Chew. “In Singapore alone, we have 100 properties. We have clusters of properties, and the CBD is just one cluster. We have clusters in Science Park, one-north and Changi Business Park. So we focus on how we can activate an entire precinct, or an entire community.”
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A variety of workspaces to suit different individuals (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
That spawned the idea of creating a “community curator like Bridge+”. Chew adds: “As the name signifies, that is what we are trying to do — to be the connecting point in creating that ecosystem.” For instance, a large-scale office building like 79 Robinson Road may have 20 to 30 major tenants.
As the floor plates at 79 Robinson Road average 23,000 sq ft in size, many small- to medium-sized companies will find it hard to lease an entire floor there. However, these companies can still become tenants by taking up membership at Bridge+, explains Chew. “And it’s more efficient than having to sub-divide the large floorplates into smaller spaces for lease.”
Beyond space, Bridge+ is also using technology to “reduce friction” for guests and tenants entering the building, and for those looking for parking space at the carpark. To make it more convenient, CapitaLand is using a facial recognition and temperature reading device at the main entrance of Bridge+ on the second level, as well as on the sixth and seventh levels. Facial recognition will be used to activate the meeting rooms too.
“This way, you can enter the common spaces or meeting rooms while holding your cup of coffee and without having to fumble around for your card,” says Chew. “Previously we were using tech to see how well the common areas were being utilised. Now, we are using tech for security, to ensure that there’s no overcrowding, to safeguard the well-being of people working there, and to monitor air quality as well as building safety.”
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Dedicated desks for companies who may not require a private office suite (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

‘Placeholders’

Bridge+ 79 Robinson Road is scheduled to open on Jan 2. On the second level is the communal space. Awfully Chocolate will also open a space there, providing F&B for members and catering for events. On the second level, there are 28 different meeting rooms, ranging from small rooms with just four people to big event space for 240. The event space is ideal for townhalls or seminars. The space can be divided into two rooms with seating capacity of about 50 each.
Other office tenants can subscribe to membership at Bridge+ too, which allows them the use of the meeting rooms or event space. Within Bridge+ is a variety of different workspaces — ranging from suites to clusters of desks or booth seats. There are also quiet corners or open spaces which are conducive to work.
About 80% of the workspaces are private office suites, with the smallest accommodating up to seven people. Most of the office suites have a capacity of 20 to 50 people. There is also flexibility to expand if a company requires more space, says Marcus Lim, CapitaLand head of flexible workspace and community experience. Membership fees start from $850 per person at Bridge+ 79 Robinson Road.
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One of the meeting rooms, which are activated by facial recognition (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
In fact, it is during these times of uncertainty that companies want an interim space as they rethink their space needs, adds Lim. He anticipates more companies looking for “a placeholder” — a space where they can come onboard for six to 12 months, until they decide what to do next.
As the head of flexible workspace and community experience, Lim will also be focusing on “programming” — organising lunchtime talks, events and other activities to build the community within the tower.

‘Bite sizes’

CapitaLand’s Chew does not see Bridge+ competing with other co-working space providers, who are tenants in the group’s other buildings. In fact, CapitaLand has also taken stakes in some of these players.
In 2018, CapitaLand invested $13.5 million for a 50% stake in co-working operator. The Work Project, which is a tenant at Capital Tower, CapitaLand’s flagship Grade-A office building in the CBD. CapitaLand also extended $13.5 million in shareholder loans to The Work Project. Beyond the space at Capital Tower, The Work Project is also a tenant at Asia Square Tower 2. Both Capital Tower and Asia Square Tower 2 are part of the portfolio of CapitaLand Commercial Trust (CCT), a subsidiary of CapitaLand.
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Booth seats and a gallery to enjoy the view at Bridge+ 79 Robinson Road (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
JustCo, another co-working operator, is also a tenant at Asia Square Tower 2. Meanwhile, WeWork is operating a co-working space at Funan, which is managed by CapitaLand Mall Trust (CMT), another subsidiary of CapitaLand. WeWork has also signed a seven-year lease to occupy the entire 21-storey building at 21 Collyer Quay, with the lease commencing in 4Q2021. The building had been occupied by HSBC until April this year. 21 Collyer Quay is part of CCT’s portfolio.
CapitaLand’s maiden foray into flexible workspace was through its joint venture with Singapore-based co-working operator Collective Works to convert the 12th-floor space at Capital Tower into a 20,000 sq ft, flexible office space in 2016. The following year, through its corporate venture fund, C31 Ventures, CapitaLand led a $5 million investment in co-working operator The Great Room, whose flagship space is at CCT’s One George Street.
In 2018, over in China, CapitaLand launched its own 29,000 sq ft, co-working centre C3 or “C Cube” in its Innov Centre building ain Shanghai's Yangpu District.
CapitaLand does things in “bite sizes”, Chew explains. “And if it’s successful, we will ramp up,” he adds. “Digital transformation, agile and activity-based workspaces are some of the big trends that we have been seeing for some years since a younger generation joined the workforce; and we have seen the way work, live and play overlap.”
Chew adds: “We are in a world where things are changing constantly, and business cycles have become shorter. And with shocks to the system, like Covid, we need to be nimble and agile.”
Directly across 79 Robinson Road is Capital Tower. Diagonally across the road is Guoco Tower, Singapore’s tallest skyscraper at Tanjong Pagar. On the next street is OUE’s Downtown Gallery on Shenton Way. AXA Tower, which will soon be redeveloped, is on the opposite side. “Five to 10 years from now, this area could be the Times Square of Singapore,” says CapitaLand’s Lim.
Bringing Bridge+ into the CBD is therefore timely. “In co-working, it’s not just about the yoga lessons or free beer — although that helps — but it’s definitely about creating a more relaxed atmosphere, and a variety of workspaces where people can be more productive in their work,” says Chew. “Everybody works differently.”