M+S redefines work-live-play

/ EdgeProp
August 27, 2017 8:30 AM SGT
The $4 billion DUO and $7 billion Marina One are giant mixed-use schemes that will inject new life into their neighbourhoods
The view of Bugis towards the CBD and Marina Bay from DUO
With LED lights outlining the hexagonal pattern on its façade, integrated development DUO, designed by German architect Ole Scheeren, stands out amid other architectural landmarks in the Ophir-Beach Road area. On one side of DUO is the 24-storey Parkview Square office tower, which has an ornate Art Deco style. It was completed in 2002 and designed by American architect James Adams for the late Taiwanese tycoon C S Hwang of Chyau Fwu Group. On the other side is the edgier 37-storey office towers of United Industrial Corp’s The Gateway, designed by world-renowned architect and centenarian, I M Pei, and completed in 1990.
Farther down Beach Road, there is the 41-storey office tower, The Concourse, designed by Paul Rudolph and completed in 1994, and the adjacent Concourse Skyline designed by The Cox Group of Australia (designer of the Helix Bridge) for Hong Fok Corp. Meanwhile, South Beach is a mixed-use development designed by British architect Norman Foster of Foster + Partners for joint-venture (JV) partners City Developments Ltd and IOI Group, and completed in 2015.
“The whole area has been refreshed, with the completion of South Beach and, now, DUO,” says Ong Choon Fah, CEO of Edmund Tie & Co (ET&Co). This has led to a rejuvenation in the neighbourhood, with more cafés, pubs and restaurants opening in the Liang Seah Street and Beach Road area to cater for the increase in office workers. The Kampong Glam conservation area has also changed, with new F&B and retail concepts, especially on Arab Street and Haji Lane. “There’s a greater number of expatriates and tourists seeking a more authentic cultural experience,” says Ong.
The latest landmark in the transformation of the Beach Road-Bugis area is DUO, which is scheduled to be fully completed and operational by October, says Kemmy Tan, CEO of M+S. The latter is a 60:40 JV between Malaysia’s Khazanah Nasional and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings. M+S is also the developer of the integrated development, Marina One at Marina Bay, which is scheduled for completion by year-end as well.
The two projects, which have a combined value of $11 billion, are being completed seven years after the historic land-swap deal in 2010 between the governments for the development of the Malayan Railway land in Singapore. The swap involved three plots of railway land in Tanjong Pagar, Kranji and Woodlands, and another three in Bukit Timah Road. In lieu of those six plots, the Singapore government offered four parcels of land in Marina South (Marina One) and two parcels in Ophir-Rochor Road (DUO).
DUO has two towers — the 39-storey DUO Tower and 49-storey DUO Residences
Stabilising the developments
Post-completion, M+S will focus on stabilising both DUO and Marina One. Given the scale of the two projects, it will take some time, says M+S’s Tan. DUO has 1.73 million sq ft of space, while Marina One has 3.67 million sq ft. “What’s important is to ensure that we are able to deliver what we had envisioned,” she adds. Consequently, M+S has dedicated teams to manage the two developments.
The integrated development at DUO has two towers: the 49-storey, 660-unit DUO Residences; and the 39-storey DUO Tower, with 570,000 sq ft of Grade-A office space spanning 20 floors, and the five-star, 342-room Andaz Singapore hotel by Hyatt occupying the 25th to 39th floors.
When DUO Residences was launched in November 2013, an early buyer was Singaporean investor Gary Lim. He purchased a 969 sq ft, two-bedroom unit on the 11th floor of the tower for close to $1.6 million ($1,646 psf). Even though Lim has yet to receive the keys to his unit, he has already secured a tenant for it at a rental rate of $5,500 a month. The tenant is believed to be an expatriate working in Biopolis in one-north. The rental rate translates into a gross rental yield of just over 4%. As an investor, Lim believes the price he paid for the unit is “very attractive, given the location in Bugis”.
The highest price psf achieved at DUO so far was for a 420 sq ft, one-bedroom unit on the 20th floor that fetched $1.12 million ($2,663 psf), according to a caveat lodged in March 2014.
DUO Residences is 95% sold. New show suites are being designed before the remaining 33 units at DUO Residences are launched for sale. “These are mainly the large units on high floors, where residents can have views of the Kallang Basin and Sports Hub, or the Singapore Flyer and Marina Bay,” notes M+S’s Tan.
Pickup in leasing activity
At DUO Tower, more than half of the office space has already been leased, and some tenants have already moved in. They include pharmaceutical firm Abbot, private-equity and venture-capital firm Golden Equator Capital, MasterCard and Regus Serviced Office. The biggest floor plate at DUO Tower is situated on the 18th floor, covering 31,000 sq ft with a capacity of 300 staff. “Leasing activity in the office market has picked up, buoyed by more positive global sentiment,” says M+S’s Tan.
There is also a 56,000 sq ft retail podium at DUO, which leads to the entrance of the Bugis MRT station, an interchange station for the Downtown and East-West Lines.
About 70% of the retail space has already been taken up. About 60% of the space at the retail podium is dedicated to F&B: TONO, Singapore’s first Peruvian seafood restaurant and bar, is the first to open and the others will start operating in the coming months. They include UK pizza chain Pizza Express, Man Man by Tepei’s Japanese unagi restaurant, Italian-inspired Erwin’s Gastrobar and modern Japanese tea house, Nana’s Green Tea.
Andaz Singapore is set to open in October. The hotel amenities include main and secondary ballrooms, meeting rooms, lounge, restaurants and bars. There is also an observation deck with panoramic views of the city skyline and historic Kampong Glam district. “A hotel is a great asset within a mixed-use development, especially when you have many office tenants that are multinational companies,” says Chris Archibold, JLL head of markets. “They can accommodate their overseas guests at the hotel, and hold their corporate events there without having to leave the building.”
The 31,000 sq ft of office space on the 18th floor of DUO Tower can accommodate 300 people
A cross-section of Tanjong Pagar-Shenton Way-Marina Bay (from left): Tanjong Pagar Centre, V on Shenton and UIC Building, Asia Square, Marina One and Marina Bay Financial Centre
Legacy sites, building communities
M+S has commissioned art pieces and sculptures by famous Malaysian and Singaporean artists, given the legacy of the sites. At DUO, there is a sculpture called Harmony by Malaysian artist Latiff Mohidin. Other art pieces featured at DUO are by Singaporean artists Sun Yu-Li, Baet Yeok Kuan and Lim Leong Seng, as well as Malaysian artist Grace Tan.
Habitap, a company founded by Franklin Tang, CEO of Philip Tang & Sons, develops smart technology for homes and, increasingly, offices. It has also developed an app for M+S called MySphere — the first of its kind for an integrated development — which connects the two communities at DUO and Marina One.The app can be downloaded on smartphones and allows office tenants and residents to book facilities not only within their own development but in the other as well. For instance, office tenants in Marina One can book the meeting room or ballroom at Andaz Singapore in DUO. Likewise, office tenants at DUO can book the auditorium at Marina One.
The MySphere app is also convenient for visitors to the office buildings. They will be given a code on their smartphone for access through the security gantry at the lobby without having to queue up to obtain a visitor’s pass at the reception. “This is the first such feature for an integrated development in Singapore,” says M+S’s Tan.
The app will allow office tenants to contact the maintenance staff and the concierge service as well as book the use of a bicycle, e-scooter or car under a sharing scheme. It can also be used by residents for booking condominium facilities, contacting the handyman or making dinner reservations at any restaurant in DUO or Marina One.
Who’s moving in
At Marina One, one of the twin office towers (the East Tower) was completed in June, and some tenants have already moved in. The second office tower (West Tower), the 140,000 sq ft retail podium and the 1,042-unit Marina One Residences will be completed by year-end.
The retail podium is more than 70% leased, with anchor tenants such as Virgin Active fitness club taking up 26,000 sq ft, Cold Storage supermarket and Cookhouse food court by Koufu. F&B outlets include Japanese restaurant Teppei Syokudo, Jewel Coffee and WOLF Burgers.
So far, 1.2 million sq ft (64%) of the 1.88 million sq ft Grade-A office space at Marina One has been leased. Tenants include consultancy firm PwC Singapore, co-working space provider JustCo, agri-business firm Olam International, Daiwa Capital Markets and Mitsubishi UFG Financial Group. “Marina One has enjoyed considerable leasing success across a particularly wide spectrum of corporate occupiers,” says Moray Armstrong, CBRE Singapore’s managing director of advisory and transactions.
Typical floor plates at Marina One range from 34,000 to 40,000 sq ft. There are two supersized 100,000 sq ft penthouse offices situated on the top two levels (28th and 29th) and offering panoramic views. They are the largest prime Grade-A office floor plates in Asia, says M+S’s Tan. “As Singapore continues to entrench itself as a business hub, we felt there was a gap in the market for such an office space.” One of the penthouse floors has already been taken up by Swiss private bank Julius Baer.
The limited delivery of CBD office space from 2018 to 2020 is likely to support improved rents, says CBRE’s Armstrong. “The office market is poised to return to growth,” he adds. “The strength of the rebound will depend to a large degree on the prospects for improved economic growth. The likelihood of better performance in the financial services sector may be pivotal. The potential rise of Asia-Pacific regional conglomerates, including China technology firms, may be another critical demand driver.”
The MySphere app, the first of its kind for an integrated development, can be used by the communities in both DUO and Marina One
Rising profile
The profile of the Shenton Way-Tanjong Pagar micro market has risen markedly as a result of the influx of new high-quality office developments, such as UIC Building, along with upgrading works undertaken at some existing buildings, including OUE Downtown, 77 Robinson Road and the former CPF Building. “The improved connectivity between buildings has no doubt helped also in attracting a higher-quality tenant base,” reckons CBRE’s Armstrong. “Come 2018, Frasers Tower will further amplify this trend based on strength of leasing pre-commitment to major corporates such as Microsoft.”
Marina One is both a catalyst for and a beneficiary of the renewal taking place in the Shenton Way and Tanjong Pagar area. Designed by Christoph Ingenhoven of the eponymous architectural firm, Ingenhoven Architects, the centrepiece of Marina One is the “Green Heart”, a heart-shaped, tiered garden with walkways, waterfalls and 200,000 sq ft of lush greenery. Sculptures by Malaysian artists Sand T Kalloch and Grace Tan, as well as Singaporean artist Edwin Cheong will be placed there.
One of the attractions of Marina One is its location in the CBD and connectivity: It is linked to four MRT Lines via the upcoming Shenton Way MRT station on the Thomson-East Coast Line, the Downtown station on the Downtown Line and the Marina Bay Station, which is an interchange station for the North-South and Circle Lines.
Only one of the twin towers of Marina One Residences was launched for sale in October 2014. The second tower is expected to be launched next year, says Tan of M+S. At least 76% of the 521 units at Tower 1 (called Park Tower) have been sold. The latest transaction at Tower 1 of Marina One was the sale of a 1,518 sq ft, three-bedroom unit on the 16th floor that fetched $3.81 million ($2,511 psf), according to a caveat lodged on Aug 10.
When the project was launched, one of the buyers of a unit at Marina One was Nicholas Lim, director of sales and marketing of Chuan Watch, an established name in pre-owned luxury timepieces founded by his father, Henry, in 1995. Lim purchased a 1,119 sq ft, two-bedroom apartment on the 13th floor of Tower 1 in April 2015 for $2.4 million ($2,150 psf).
His intention was to move in upon completion. “I liked the fact that there are retail outlets below, and it’s near Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay.” He is now contemplating renting out the unit instead.
ET&Co’s Ong is not surprised that DUO Residences and Marina One Residences have appealed to investors. Just as DUO has transformed the Beach Road-Ophir Road area, Marina One’s completion dovetails with the recent completion of OUE Downtown Gallery, Tanjong Pagar Centre as well as UIC Building and V on Shenton. “That whole stretch from Marina View to Shenton Way and Tanjong Pagar has been rejuvenated,” she notes. “The completion of Marina One will add new retail and F&B concepts, further enhancing the lifestyle offerings in that part of Marina Bay.”
Tan: What’s important is to ensure that we are able to deliver what we had envisioned
This article appeared in The Edge Property Pullout, Issue 794 (Aug 28, 2017) of The Edge Singapore.