A JUST-RELEASED 99-year leasehold commercial and residential site near Beauty World MRT station has many strong attributes, say property consultants.
However, the cloud of uncertainty amid the Covid-19-induced economic slowdown and its big-ticket investment quantum - the land price alone is widely expected to be at least S$1 billion - may cause potential bidders to be cautious, they added.
On a brighter note, overall business sentiment may lift by the time the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) dual-envelope tender for the 3.22-hectare plot along Jalan Anak Bukit closes in nine months' time, on March 30, 2021.
Knight Frank Singapore research head Leonard Tay said: "Interested parties will have the chance to wait for more clarity as Singapore emerges from the Covid-19 crisis."
Property consultants polled by The Business Times expect the site to fetch anywhere from just a single bid to 10 bids. Their forecasts of the top bid too vary widely, from S$750-1,250 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr). In absolute price terms, this would range from S$780 million to S$1.3 billion.
Given the large investment outlay in this project and to reduce risk, developers are expected to form consortiums to bid for the site.
"Due to the scale of the project and its impact on the surrounding, a concept-and-price tender is indeed appropriate to ensure the quality of the development," said JLL Singapore senior director of research and consultancy Ong Teck Hui.
The subject site is envisioned to be a landmark residential and commercial development to help rejuvenate the Beauty World area, he added.
URA said that bidders are required to submit their concept proposals and tender prices separately.
The concept proposals will first be evaluated against a set of criteria specified - the three broad categories are: quality of design concept, quality of public realm, and the track record of the developer and design teams.
"Only compelling concept proposals will be shortlisted to proceed to the second stage of evaluation, which will be based on price only. Tenderers are encouraged to propose quality concepts that are closely aligned with the planning vision for the site, while submitting a competitively-priced bid," the URA added.
The site can be developed upto a maximum gross floor area (GFA) of 96,551 square metres (sq m), or nearly 1.04 million square feet (sq ft). Of this, at least 5,000 sq m shall be for a bus intechange. Up to 20,000 sq m GFA shall be for commercial use.
The remaining GFA shall be for residential use - potentially equating to about 845 residential units. The residential component could comprise private flats, serviced apartments, or a combination of the two.
Of the maximum 20,000 sq m GFA for commercial use, no more than 7,500 sq m can be for shop and restaurant use, including such use within the bus interchange and any outdoor refreshment areas.
The remaining commercial GFA can be allocated for other commercial uses including office, commercial school, medical clinic, gym and recreation/entertainment uses if permitted by the authorities.
The successful bidder will be reimbursed the cost of designing and building the bus interchange by the Land Transport Authority.
ERA Realty's head of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak said: "The new mixed-use development that will eventually be built on the subject site would be a much-needed catalyst to rejuvenate the Beauty World neighbourhood."
Noting that the project's residential component is likely to be launched for sale in 2022, Mr Mak added: "By then, the negative impact of the Covid-19 outbreak would have subsided and the Singapore economy would have recovered. Hence, if this project is reasonably priced, it will likely be one of the more popular developments among the new residential launches at that time."
That said, Cushman & Wakefield's associate director of research for Singapore and Southeast Asia Wong Xian Yang highlighted possible competition from several nearby existing and upcoming launches, including View At Kismis, Daintree Residence, Verdale, The Linq@Beauty World and Forett @ Bukit Timah.
And despite the site's strong attributes, one drawback is that it is right beside the Pan Island Expressway, which could result in higher noise and dust levels for the future development.
The attractions of the site include its being located within 1km of top primary schools such as Methodist Girls' School (Primary) and Pei Hwa Presbyterian Primary School, noted Mr Ong of JLL.
Huttons Asia's research director Lee Sze Teck said that "integrated developments are favoured by (home) buyers for the seamless connectivity to a MRT station and bus interchange and a mall".
The upcoming Bukit Timah Community Building, which will include a market and hawker centre, will bring added convenience to the whole Beauty World area, he added.
Colliers International's head of research for Singapore Tricia Song said: "This site has good potential for placemaking, to capitalise on the mainly private residential catchment, education institutions, and the vast nature elements including Bukit Timah Hill in the vicinity."
The site is being offered under the confirmed list of the first-half 2020 Government Land Sales Programme.
In its release, the URA said: "Located within one of Singapore's endearing identity nodes, the Beauty World precinct is envisioned to be a green urban village that will be a centre of community life and southern gateway into Bukit Timah's nature attractions."
With the completion of the Coast-to-Coast trail, upcoming completion of the Rail Corridor and Rifle Range Nature Park, as well as the new public and private development projects in the area, the sale of this site for a mixed-use integrated transport hub will further spur the rejuvenation of Beauty World, inject vibrancy into the area and enhance the overall commuting experience with convenient connection between the Downtown Line and bus services.
"The vision is for the... site to be a distinctive development and identity marker for the Beauty World precinct when completed. It is envisaged to offer a lushly landscaped and attractive living environment that is well connected to the surrounding nature attractions. It should include thoughtfully-designed public spaces and pedestrian networks that are well integrated with transport and community uses," the URA added.