Church buys Elite Building in collective sale

The S$52m to be paid by The Tabernacle Church and Missions Ltd works out to S$1,242 psf on existing GFA

September 7, 2017

Kalpana Rashiwala

ELITE Building, a freehold six-storey property near Aljunied MRT Station, has been sold through a collective sale for S$52 million to The Tabernacle Church and Missions Limited.

The price works out to S$1,242 per square foot based on the existing gross floor area of 41,866 sq ft.

Completed about two decades ago, Elite Building comes with 19 carpark lots in the basement. It has a 60-metre-long frontage along Aljunied Road.

Unanimous consent of the owners has been obtained. The Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA) owns 13 of the 16 strata units in the building. Two units are owned by another church, Evangel Baptist Church, while an individual owns the remaining unit.

Most of the building has been vacated. Edmund Tie & Company brokered the collective sale, which was awarded last month. The transaction is slated for completion in November.

Established in 1977, The Tabernacle Church and Missions currently operates in two locations - at 357 Pasir Panjang Road and 64 Tanjong Katong Road. Both properties are owned by the church, which has a congregation of about 700.

It plans to move its corporate office, currently located within its Pasir Panjang premises, into Elite Building.

The new premises will also be home to the church's Asian Pastoral Institute Limited, which currently functions from the Pasir Panjang and Tanjong Katong premises, said David Jeremiah Seah, the founding president of the institute as well as the founding pastor of The Tabernacle Church and Missions Limited.

"We've been looking for larger premises for our pastoral institute for more than a decade, as we plan to expand our library. In Aljunied, we'll also have more classrooms to train people for pastoral work as well as for counselling and community outreach services," said Dr Seah, who holds a PhD in Business Management (change management).

The counsellor training curriculum will include cross-cultural relationships as "our aim is to train counsellors who have an understanding of other cultures and religions as we'll be providing counselling services for the wider community", he added.

"We may touch up the Elite Building before moving in."

With some space freed up at the Pasir Panjang and Tanjong Katong properties, "we would want to develop more community services at these two churches", said Dr Seah.

Elite Building is on a 14,274 sq ft site zoned for "residential/institution" use with a 2.8 plot ratio (ratio of maximum gross floor area to land area) under the Urban Redevelopment Authority's Master Plan 2014.

The six-storey building on the site is approved as a commercial school with shops on the ground floor, according to a release issued by Edmund Tie & Co in February.

“SAA Global Education, the education arm of ISCA, used to operate a school in the premises but has since relocated to TripleOne Somerset at 111 Somerset Road.” (see amendment note)

The S$52 million price fetched for Elite Building is lower than the owners' initial asking price of S$55 million when the tender for the site was launched in February this year. That exercise, which closed in March, did not garner the price sought, leading to a second tender being rolled out which closed in late-June. Even that did not achieve the asking price, following which the owners lowered their reserve price, resulting in the sale to The Tabernacle Church and Missions being concluded.

Amendment Note: Due to a source error, an earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that SAA Global Education has relocated to ISCA House at 60 Cecil Street when actually it has moved to TripleOne Somerset at 111 Somerset Road. The above article has been revised to reflect this.