YTL’s uncanny timing

By Cecilia Chow and Charlene Chin / EdgeProp Singapore | December 15, 2018 12:24 PM SGT
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December is not commonly a choice month in which to roll out a luxury project. But a burst of interest from foreign buyers on holiday has prompted the Malaysian-listed conglomerate to launch 3 Orchard By-The-Park.

Most property developers are winding down their activities as the year draws to a close. Not Malaysian- listed YTL Corp, controlled by the Yeoh family and ranked 11th-richest in Malaysia by Forbes, though. The group’s subsidiary, YTL Land & Development, launched its luxury condo 3 Orchard By-The-Park in Singapore on Dec 1. “It felt as though the market had rebounded,” says Joseph Yeoh, 32, vice-president of YTL Land & Development and YTL Hotels, in an interview with EdgeProp Singapore.
YTL's 3 Orchard By-The-Park was officially launched on Dec 1 (Photo Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
According to Jasmine Gwee, YTL Land & Development’s sales and marketing director, the decision to launch was prompted by a surge in enquiries from prospective buyers primarily from China, Hong Kong and Indonesia. “We decided to launch because we saw that many of them who are here on holiday are also using it as an opportunity to view property,” she says. “The luxury market is very resilient. It’s not so much about affordability. It’s what they want to buy.”
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The property cooling measures in July may have slowed activity elsewhere in the residential market, but there has been a spurt of buying in the luxury segment. “If you compare with prices in Hong Kong and Shanghai, Singapore is still very attractive even with the new cooling measures in place,” adds Yeoh.
Yeoh needed to look no further than 3 Orchard By-The-Park to prove his point. The project is a redevelopment of the former Westwood Apartments, which YTL had purchased en bloc at end-November 2007 for $435 million. The purchase price for the freehold site on prime Orchard Boulevard translated into a record land rate of $2,525 psf per plot ratio (ppr).
Yeoh: If you compare with prices in Hong Kong and Shanghai, Singapore is still very attractive even with the new cooling measures in place (Photo Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

‘Long-term view’

Given the transacted land prices achieved in the vicinity of 3 Orchard By-The-Park earlier this year (see “Boulevard of tycoons”), Yeoh says, “we’re quite blessed to have moved in 10 years ago; and we’re very happy that our vision to invest earlier has been justified. We’ve always taken a long-term view in buying property”.
On Dec 1, YTL officially launched 3 Orchard By-The-Park at prices starting from $3,400 psf. A total of five units has been sold so far. Two units were sold recently, although caveats have yet to be lodged. Three units were sold at private previews in July and September. One was a 1,152 sq ft, two-bedroom unit on the fourth level that fetched $4.25 million ($3,686 psf). Two others are 2,260 sq ft, four-bedroom units — one on the 22nd level that was sold for $8.54 million ($3,778 psf) and another directly above on the 23rd level that went for $8.6 million ($3,805 psf). “We are in talks for a few more units,” says Gwee. “We have seen quite a few return viewers, many of whom are from Hong Kong.”
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Yeoh says: “There’s still the prospect of an upside in capital values. We never had a doubt that prices would hit $4,000 psf or even $5,000 psf, which have already been achieved along the Orchard Road belt.”
He plans to purchase a unit at 3 Orchard By-The-Park. “We’re a family-run business, a 63-year-old company,” he says. “As a result, the board of directors are brothers and sisters, and with the quality of our developments, not just in Singapore but also in Malaysia, it’s not uncommon for them to invest in some units themselves. We put our money where our mouth is.”
Balcony of one of the four-bedroom units at 3 Orchard-By-The-Park with view of Cuscaden Road and Tomlinson Road neighbourhood (Photo Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

Family-run, global empire

Yeoh’s father is Francis Yeoh, the eldest son of the founder of YTL Group, Yeoh Tiong Lay, who passed away in October 2017, aged 88. Francis, 64, succeeded his father as YTL Corp’s executive chairman. The listed entity has a market capitalisation of RM11.4 billion ($3.7 billion).
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The business empire spans the globe — from the UK to Australia — and ranges from construction and infrastructure to utilities, property development and investments in hotels, shopping malls and resort properties. Its Starhill Global REIT portfolio includes Starhill Gallery and Lot 10 in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur; Ngee Ann City and Wisma Atria on prime Orchard Road in Singapore; as well as Myer Centre in Adelaide and David Jones Building in the Perth CBD in Australia.
When YTL purchased the former Westwood Apartments site on Orchard Boulevard in 2007, Joseph was completing his final year at the University of Nottingham, the UK, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Law (Honours) degree. Having joined the family business six years ago, he oversaw the design, development and construction of 3 Orchard By-the-Park.
One of the four-bedroom show suites at 3 Orchard By-The-Park (Photo Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

Design by Italian maestro Antonio Citterio

Milan-based Italian architect and furniture designer, Antonio Citterio, was the design architect for 3 Orchard By-the-Park. Citterio is famous for his designs of the Bulgari Hotels and Resorts in Milan, London, Bali and more recently in Beijing and Shanghai. He is also an award-winning furniture designer for brands such as Hermès, B&B Italia, Arclinea and Flexform.
Citterio designed the 77 units at 3 Orchard By-The-Park as “villas in the sky”. The development has three 25-storey towers with nature- inspired names: Water, Wilderness and Wood. The project also won the BCA Green Mark Gold Plus Award for its sustainable design, construction and conservation of mature trees on the site.
The development has a mix of two- to four-bedroom units measuring 1,066 to 2,260 sq ft. There are also two- to four-bedroom lofts as well as five-bedroom penthouses. So far, 53 units in two towers (Wood and Wilderness) have been released for sale.
Units in the third tower, Water, with views of the 28m, resort-style lap pool, have not been launched, as the developer is considering turning them into branded residences for lease.
A four-bedroom unit with Armani Casa furniture and a boiserie designed by Antonio Citterio which doubles as a movable partition separating the living and dining area from the kitchen (Photo Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Luxury experience, attention to detail 3 Orchard By-The-Park is the first luxury residential development in YTL Group that will have round-the-clock concierge service offered by YTL Hotels, says Yeoh. Services will include access to the 29 luxury resorts and hotels across Asia, Europe and Australia in the group’s portfolio.
YTL has also collaborated with Jones the Grocer to curate the fine foods to be made available to residents at the Library Lounge, private dining room and al fresco dining area at the swimming pool. Incidentally, Francis is an investor in L Capital, the private-equity arm of LVMH, which owns Jones the Grocer, a gourmet mart and restaurant chain.
“Homebuyers will have food delivery, wine classes, cheese tasting courses and private dining from Jones the Grocer,” says Yeoh. And instead of ordinary bottled water, they will be served Finnish premium bottled water, Veen. “These are things we don’t stint on. It’s part of our DNA, especially in our hospitality business.”
According to Yeoh, Citterio was involved in every design aspect of 3 Orchard By-The-Park — from the exterior to the landscaping, furniture, kitchen, bathroom accessories right down to the door handles and boiserie, or wood panelling, for every unit. The kitchens were designed by Citterio for Arclinea, with appliances from Miele. He also designed the boiserie, which is both a design feature and movable partition, separating the living and dining area from the kitchen.
Citterio designed the windows to frame the views, and even oversaw details such as the design of the wardrobe in the bedrooms (Photo Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Even the windows and full-height sliding glass doors were designed to frame the view outside. All units have a 3m ceiling height, while loft units have a double- volume ceiling height of 6.5m in the living room.
“Citterio is very detail-oriented,” says Yeoh. “And that’s what discerning buyers want to see. It’s all about creating experiences. It’s no longer just about a wooden panel or door handle.”

Maiden high-rise project

Yeoh says 3 Orchard By-The-Park is YTL’s maiden high-rise residential project outside Malaysia as well as Citterio’s maiden high-rise residential project in Singapore.
A two-bedroom unit with the wood panelling (boiserie) designed by Antonio Citterio (Photo Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
3 Orchard By-The-Park not only appeals to foreign buyers but Singaporeans too. Word on the street is that the two recent buyers were local Singaporeans, one of whom is a collector of Citterio’s furniture pieces. “These buyers appreciate the location and quality of the project,” says Dominic Lee, head of the luxury team at PropNex, and one of the marketing agents of the project.
Traditionally, December is not a time to launch projects, and the recent spurt of buying activity is uncharacteristic, concedes Lee. Nevertheless, the recent increase in demand from “wealthy people on holiday in Singapore” has given YTL the opportunity to launch its latest luxury project.
“3 Orchard By-The-Park is a masterpiece by Citterio,” says Yeoh. “It’s more than just the building; it’s the interior design and the attention to detail. When you buy a unit, you will appreciate the holistic approach Citterio has taken to design it.”