Published April 25, 2009

Developers still putting up project plans

URA has received 4 applications to convert space in CBD


THE property market may be subdued, but developers are not sitting still. A check with the Urban Redevelopment Authority shows some are still putting up proposals to convert office space or embark on residential and commercial projects.

URA told BT it has received four applications to convert office space in the central area to other uses since it lifted the ban on doing so in October last year. 'These applications are now being evaluated and are pending final approval,' said a URA spokesman.

In a bid to ease the office space supply crunch that built up during the boom years, URA called a halt to such conversions in May 2007. It later removed the ban as the supply of office space coming on stream started to increase, while the economy began to slow. URA did not identify the buildings involved in the applications, but some property owners have revealed plans to convert office space.

CapitaMall Trust, for instance, said last week that it was 'in talks with the authorities to optimise the integration plan for The Atrium@Orchard and Plaza Singapura' and that work could start by end-2010 subject to market conditions and official approvals.

URA has also granted approval for close to 10 commercial and private residential projects, according to its Q1 2009 real estate statistics released yesterday.

UIC Investments (Properties) received provisional permission in January to develop office and retail space with gross floor areas (GFAs) of 114,500 sq ft and 48,000 sq ft respectively at the UIC Building in Shenton Way. Some 593 residential units could also take shape at the site.

The South Beach consortium - comprising City Developments, a Dubai World unit and Elad Group - has been given the go-ahead to develop 560 hotel rooms across a GFA of 474,100 sq ft at its Beach Road project. The site may include office space with a GFA of more than 632,100 sq ft, and retail space with a GFA of 158,000 sq ft. The project is tipped to receive a temporary occupation permit in 2014.

BT understands there will also be a residential component in the South Beach project, although this did not appear in the URA statistics. The data only shows development approvals for uncompleted private residential projects if they have at least 200 non-landed property units.

YTL Corp, which bought the Westwood Apartments in Orchard Boulevard in 2007, has obtained provisional permission to develop shop space with a GFA of 1,500 sq ft and 39 hotel rooms across 78,200 sq ft at the site. BT understands the residential component similarly did not show up in the URA statistics, because there are less than 200 non-landed units.

In February, UOL Group subsidiary Hotel Plaza got URA's nod to re-use the GFA in The Plaza's podium block to create 273 hotel rooms.