Mediacorp puts former Caldecott Hill site for sale

Gross land value for a proposed bungalow redevelopment on the site is expected to be more than S$400 million

Thu, Oct 15, 2020

Fiona Lam

CBRE believes the proposed 'junior GCBs' on the site will appeal to buyers seeking bungalow ownership in a new estate that is also part of a GCB area.

THE sprawling seven-hectare leasehold plot that used to house the iconic Caldecott Broadcast Centre has been offered for sale by Mediacorp via a public tender.

The gross land value for a proposed bungalow redevelopment on the site is expected to be more than S$400 million - including the differential premium (DP) and the lease upgrading premium (UP), said CBRE and Showsuite Consultancy.

This would translate to a land rate of around S$540 per square foot (psf), they noted in a joint statement.

Based on Mediacorp's architect's proposed scheme of 67 bungalows to be carved from the site, the land cost to a potential developer works out to some S$6 million per plot.

At this price, a developer may break even at about S$9-10 million per bungalow, according to CBRE and Showsuite.

New detached houses at the proposed development, which is part of the Caldecott Hill Estate Good Class Bungalow (GCB) Area, will likely be priced at S$11-14 million, subject to design and configuration.

"This compares favourably to the average prices of detached houses in Sentosa Cove and GCBs in the central region," said the real estate consultants, which have been appointed by Mediacorp to market the asset.

The public tender exercise for the property will close on Dec 9.

Spanning 752,015 square feet (sq ft), the hilltop site served as the national broadcaster's campus for more than six decades until 2015, when Mediacorp moved to its current location at Mediapolis @ one-north.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has granted Mediacorp an outline approval to potentially redevelop the site into two-storey bungalows with land areas of at least 800 square metres (sq m), or 8,611 sq ft, per house.

That's a smaller land size compared with the usual minimum of 1,400 sq m for subdividing residential land in a GCB Area, but double the requirement for a bungalow in a non-GCB Area.

CBRE and Showsuite thus dubbed the potential houses on the site "junior GCBs".

The group's architect's subdivision scheme to accommodate 67 bungalow plots is subject to approval from the authorities.

Back in June, The Business Times (BT) reported that the media and entertainment group may finally be getting ready to put its former campus on the market. Market observers told BT then that the site, currently zoned for civic and community institution use, will have to be rezoned for residential use; this will entail payment of a DP to the state.

The quantum of the DP depends on the developer's proposed scheme, timing of application and assessment by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) and the Chief Valuer's office.

In addition, the 99-year leasehold island site has a balance lease term of 73 years. That means the developer will also need to pay SLA a lease UP to top it up to a fresh 99-year tenure. An application for an in-principle approval of this has been submitted, said CBRE and Showsuite.

According to Michael Tay, CBRE head of capital markets for Singapore, more buyers are seeing the more affordable leasehold properties as an opportunity to tie down less capital for their homes, in a market where freehold capital values are high. "In doing so, they free up capital to invest in another property for rental income."

With the buildings vacated, the land - bounded by Andrew Road, Olive Road and John Road - is now "ripe for redevelopment and harmonisation with the immediate surroundings of posh detached houses", said Showsuite chief executive Karamjit Singh.

The potential "junior GCBs" on the site will cater to the underserved mid-tier segment of detached houses - the market between GCBs and entry-level bungalows, Mr Singh added.

"There has been no large-scale project of new GCBs, whether 'junior' or conventional, for a very long time. The closest proxy would be bungalows at Sentosa Cove, launched between 2005 and 2010," he said.

CBRE's Mr Tay believes the proposed "junior GCBs" will appeal to buyers and upgraders seeking bungalow ownership in a new estate that is also part of a GCB area.

"In addition to the bungalow redevelopment potential, we understand that URA may also be prepared to consider a proposal for the site to be redeveloped into a retirement village, subject to detailed evaluation," said Mr Tay.