Published September 13, 2012

Ho Bee seeing strong interest in Metropolis

Fitness First said to have signed on; Shell in talks to lease 100,000 sq ft

By Kalpana Rashiwala

The Metropolis: Word on the street is that NOL too is looking at space at The Metropolis, a Grade "A" office project which will be completed next year beside Buona Vista MRT Station - PHOTO: HO BEE GROUP

THINGS may generally be slow in Singapore's office leasing market but at least one new office development is generating strong interest.

Ho Bee is said to have secured gym operator Fitness First as its first tenant for The Metropolis project, which will be completed next year beside Buona Vista MRT Station. Fitness First is expected to lease around 12,600 sq ft in Tower 2 of Metropolis.

Oil giant Shell is at advanced stages of discussions to lease about 100,000 sq ft in the same project, BT understands. It is currently at Shell House in the UE Square complex along Clemenceau Avenue/River Valley Road.

Word on the street also is that Neptune Orient Lines (NOL), which is in the process of selling its landmark headquarters building at Alexandra Road, is considering leasing space at The Metropolis. NOL could possibly be looking at anything from 100,000 sq ft to 130,000 sq ft, say market watchers. NOL Building is around 3.5km away from The Metropolis site.

The Metropolis is a Grade "A" office project that will have two office towers and retail space, directly linked to the Buona Vista MRT Station on the Circle Line. The 23-storey Tower 1 is expected to be completed around mid-2013, and the 21-storey Tower 2, around September 2013. The project's total net lettable area will be about 1.08 million sq ft (including 22,000 sq ft of retail space). CBRE and Jones Lang LaSalle are the marketing agents for The Metropolis.

Near Expo MRT Station, British Telecom has inked a lease for about 45,000 sq ft at the recently completed UE Bizhub East, which is located within Changi Business Hub. The deal is said to have been brokered by CBRE. BT will move out from Technopark @ Chai Chee.

Cisco Systems has also taken about 110,000 sq ft at UE Bizhub East. Smaller tenants in the building will include International SOS, which has leased around 20,000 sq ft. These tenants will occupy space in the nine-storey business park component (423,216 sq ft net lettable area) of UE Bizhub East, located a stone's throw away from Expo MRT Station. UE Bizhub East is a mixed development that also includes serviced residences, a convention facility and retail space.

At the next door One@Changi City, which will be ready in a few months, EMC has inked a lease for about 106,000 sq ft. JLL brokered the deal. EMC is currently at Suntec City Tower 4 and No 3 Changi Business Park, where its leases run out early next year.

One@Changi City's anchor tenant is Credit Suisse, which has taken 315,000 sq ft on five levels, with an option for an additional two floors (175,000 sq ft).

One@Changi City has about 650,000 sq ft net lettable area of business park space spread across nine levels. It is part of an integrated development that also includes the Changi City Point mall (which opened last year) and a boutique hotel residence, Capri by Fraser, which began operating a few weeks ago. The project is being developed by Ascendas Land and Frasers Centrepoint.

In the Central Business District, Virgin Active has inked a lease to open its first fitness centre on the island. It will occupy about 33,000 sq ft on levels five to seven of One Raffles Place Tower 2, making it one of the biggest fitness centres in Singapore. Market talk is that Cushman & Wakefield arranged the lease. Sources say Prologis may be leasing around 8,000 sq ft on the 36th floor of the same building.

BT understands US law firm Freshfields will occupy about 8,300 sq ft on part of the 42nd level of Ocean Financial Centre. JLL brokered the deal.

There's talk that another US law firm, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, is in advanced talks for around 12,000-15,000 sq ft at Marina Bay Financial Centre (MBFC) Tower 3.

BT understands two leasing agreements were recently inked for space in the same building: Lego for 20,000 sq ft and Hong Kong-listed real estate and financial group Goldin (16,000 sq ft). Sources says Savills handled the Goldin lease and CBRE, the Lego deal.

CBRE's executive director (office services), Moray Armstrong, while declining to comment on any specific occupiers that are active in the market, made some general observations. "The office leasing market has held up reasonably well in the past two months. What's interesting is that we have a more diverse range of sectors that are active, providing encouragement that the occupier base in Singapore's office market has widened - and we're not solely relying on the financial services sector to deliver demand."

"The biggest transactions in motion are generally outside the CBD as occupiers seek efficiency and the benefits from better-quality projects that are coming on line in these locations such as The Metropolis," he added.