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Published January 17, 2007

Cultural-retail landmark to up cool quotient for one-north

JTC seeks proposals for civic and commercial nucleus on 1.93-ha site


(SINGAPORE) The buzz for one-north is set to reach new heights - thanks to an impressive new complex that will showcase civic, cultural and shopping activities.

JTC Corp is seeking proposals for a prime 1.93 hectare site next to Buona Vista MRT station. The plot - the largest land parcel yet to be offered by JTC for private sector development at one-north - is to house a civic, cultural and retail complex (CCRC). More than half the gross floor area of 54,000 sq m has to be used for civic, cultural and/or institutional purposes. JTC says these could include a performing arts centre, concert hall or auditorium.

The remaining 24,000 sq m can be used for commercial purposes or for retailing. This could include uses for food and beverage, childcare and retail banks.

Jones Lang LaSalle regional director and head of investments Lui Seng Fatt believes that it will be the commercial/retail component that will interest developers. He estimates that this component could be priced at $500-600 per sq ft per plot ratio (psf ppr), with a break-even price of about $1,100 psf.

It is much more difficult to price the civic, cultural and institutional component. As Mr Lui notes, conventional theatres do not make money.

He estimates that it could still cost about $300 psf to construct this part of the complex. Eventual bids for the whole parcel of land could come in at between $120 million and $150 million, he reckons.

JTC says that the request for proposals is to be submitted using a two envelope system, with the design and concept of the proposed development separate from the proposed land premium. Design and concept will be assessed before the proposed land premiums are known.

JTC has provided parameters for the design and concept but it is still up to the developer to decide. As Mr Lui points out, the developer could propose office space for the commercial/retail component, especially as this might provide better rental yields.

Chesterton International head of research and consultancy Colin Tan does highlight that one-north is 'special'. 'It was designed to support the talent that is living there,' he said. As such, the planning parameters and expectations for the site could be different from the norm. And JTC will want to 'make it work'.

Knight Frank director (research and consultancy) Nicholas Mak also believes land premium may not be the key consideration in this search for proposals as JTC wants one-north to be a 'live, work, play and learn' environment. 'The CCRC will have to be 'destination',' he added.

JTC does say it wants the complex to be the 'landmark cultural focal point of the area'. In this way, it will serve as the civic and cultural nucleus of residents in one-north.

Upcoming residential launches include the 368-unit One Rochester Park by United Engineers and the 405-unit One North Residences by UOL and Kheng Leong.