Novena white site attracts top bid of $493m

PHOTO: Novena white site attracts top bid of $493m

SINGAPORE - A bullish top bid of almost $500 million was lodged for a mixed-use site next to Novena MRT station in a nine-cornered contest yesterday.

The bid of $492.5 million - or $1,632 per sq ft (psf) per plot ratio (ppr) - is the highest ever submitted for a white site, which can accommodate a variety of uses.

It easily beat the old record of $1,409 psf ppr lodged for a white site at Marina View by MGPA in September 2007.

Experts say the generally high bids could have been driven by the good sale prices for some strata-titled retail and office spaces, and the buoyant tourism industry.

The top offer came from a consortium comprising Hoi Hup Realty, Sunway Developments and Hoi Hup JV Development, whose shareholders include Straits Construction and Hoi Hup Realty.

CapitaLand units Swift One, Swift Two and Taipan Trustee came in second with a $444.9 million bid.

Other bidders included Far East Orchard, Sim Lian Group, Guthrie and UEM Land, which placed the lowest bid of $340.5 million, or $1,128 psf ppr.

The 6,677 sq m plot on the corner of Thomson and Irrawaddy roads has a maximum gross floor area of 28,043 sq m, at least 30 per cent of which must be allocated for a hotel.

The rest can be for residential, office or retail and complementary commercial uses, the Urban Redevelopment Authority said.

Hoi Hup told The Straits Times that, apart from the mandated 30 per cent hotel use, the remaining space will be for medical suites and shops, the latter to be in the basement and first storey.

Mr Lee Sze Teck, senior manager of training, research and consultancy at Dennis Wee Group, noted that the Novena area has not seen a new supply of office space for some time.

Demand for strata-titled office space in the fringe central business district area has typically been strong, which has likely attracted developers, he added.

Mr Ong Teck Hui, Jones Lang LaSalle Real Estate's national director of research and consultancy, said the top bid indicated that medical suites, rather than homes, were likely to be built.

Novena is a growing medical hub. Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Novena Medical Centre, National Skin Centre, National Neuroscience Institute and Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital are all in the vicinity.

"As a hotel-cum-residential site, a top bid of around $1,300 to $1,400 psf ppr would have been expected," Mr Ong added.

"The strong bidding also factors in the ultra-convenience with the MRT station below and the shopping and eating facilities at Novena Square and other amenities nearby."

The reserve list site was put up for sale in October after a developer committed to bid not less than $211.3 million for the land parcel.