November 5, 2009 Thursday

Phase 1 of Marina Bay project 72% leased

By Gabriel Chen

PHASE 1 of the new Marina Bay Financial Centre (MBFC) mega office development is now 72 per cent leased, thanks to mining company BHP Billiton taking a further four floors.

The company has taken the additional floor space at Tower Two which, together with Tower One, comprises the first phase of the ambitious project intended as a seamless extension of the Central Business District.

BHP committed to 142,000 sq ft at Tower Two a year ago and is now slated to have a total leased floor area for 10 years from 2011 of 231,000 sq ft on levels 40 to 50 of Tower Two.

Phase 2 of MBFC will be complete when Tower Three has been opened. But already, about 64 per cent of total office space in Phases 1 and 2 has been leased.

The three office towers have almost three million sq ft of grade A office space. MBFC will also have two residential towers of 649 luxury apartments, and 176,000 sq ft of retail space.

Mr Wilson Kwong, chief executive of Raffles Quay Asset Management, which manages the centre, said BHP's decision to take up additional space is testament to the MBFC's vision of being Asia's best business address.

BHP's commitment is a healthy boost of confidence for the Asian office market, which some analysts have tipped to improve as rental decline slows further.

According to a new report by property consultancy firm CB Richard Ellis, the Asian office market downturn stabilised in the third quarter, as the improvement in Asian employment markets clearly indicated that the office market was close to bottoming out.

It also said that activity surrounding the planning of new premises in Singapore rose, as did occupier requests for relocation alternatives.

The firm noted that while Singaporean office rents fell for the fourth consecutive quarter, clear evidence has emerged that the pace of rental decline has eased following an improvement in business confidence.

The MBFC is being developed by a joint venture comprising property developers Cheung Kong Holdings, Hongkong Land and Keppel Land.