Prime Marina Bay site expected to lure aggressive bids

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has recently released a 1.1 ha prime site at Marina Bay in Central Boulevard. Coupled with news that Asian banks are expected to strengthen their presence in Singapore, this could be an office development site developers hanker after.

Asia Square

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The last time a site at Marina Bay was put up for tender was in 2007 – Asia Square now stands on this site. With the Central Business District location and size of the site taken into consideration, it will no doubt yield a number of plum Grade A offices. Bids are expected to come from mid- to large-sized developers as well as real estate investment funds, at aggressively too, as the site holds the potential for an impressive building with a huge number of units.

Despite the softening commercial sales and rental market, the successful bidder will be likely to have the project completed by 2020, which allows sufficient time for a market upturn. The bid closes on 8 November and investment entities from China and the Middle East may show particular interest. In fact, China’s Nanshan Group is said to be the ones triggering the release of the site as it was originally on the Government’s reserve list and was said to have been released after a developer committed to bidding at least $1.536 billion. But as more buildings are seeing increased levels of commitment from companies looking to stake a presence in Southeast-Asia, developers may have more confidence taking on commercial projects.

Quiet on the Office front

5-shenton-wayIn preparation of this year’s imminent economic turmoil, businesses and companies are finding all ways to downsize, from retrenchments to cutting down on their office spaces or even uprooting to another country entirely. This may pose a spot of trouble for commercial real estate, especially in the more upmarket and expensive Central Business District (CBD).

This plus competition from the soon-to-be-completed Marina One and more available office spaces at the new Marina Bay Financial District such as Asia Square. The Tanjong Pagar and Shenton Way area are also seeing future competition from new office developments such as 5 Shenton Way, Robinson Towers and Frasers Tower. Some tenants have gone into subletting their spaces for lesser, subsidising rents for their sublet tenants so they get better deals than if they were to go to the landlords directly.

Robinsons Towers

Photo: Robinsons Towers (photo by

But not all of the movement is out of the country. As Singapore remains one of the more established bases for multinational companies (MNCs), international firms may still continue to relocate their regional headquarters here. Hong Kong is the other popular base for MNCs, where housing rentals and costs of living  are comparable.

Technology, media and telecommunication companies  are however beating the odds and growing in numbers and size. Airbnb is now taking up 30,000 sq ft on Cecil Street, expanding from their original 13,000 sq ft. And Uber has also taken up 20,000 sq ft in Mapletree Anson.