Business park space in hot 1Q demand, says CBRE

SINGAPORE - Increased interest from infocomm, pharmaceutical and technology firms drove up demand for business park space in the first quarter, said consultancy CBRE on Thursday.

Firms took up about 0.91 million sq ft of space in the three months to Mar 31, mostly at Fusionopolis Phase 2A which had secured pre-commitments of 80 per cent.

Fuji Oil Asia, for instance, took up 20,450 sq ft at The Galen in South Bunoa Vista while Takeda Pharmaceutical Company took up 12,000 sq ft at the Biopolis in one-north.

Overall vacancies in the business park market, as a result, was 10.4 per cent in the three months to Mar 31, down from 11.7 per cent in the preceding quarter.

Refurbishments of older buildings, such as The Signature, Creative Building and Plaza 8, increased leasing activity in the first three months of the year as well, stemming a widening gap between rents at older and new business parks.

In Changi Business Park, for instance, Swiss bank UBS took up about 110,000 sq ft at Hansapoint while Chinese handset maker Huawei leased 20,000 sq ft at the Ultro Building.

This was also in part driven by the conversion of office space to retail space, said CBRE, which tracks business park space without pre-commitments in the city-fringe districts and outlying areas.

First quarter rents in the city-fringe areas remained unchanged from the preceding quarter at $5.50 per sq ft (psf) a month. In the outlying regions, monthly rents were $3.65 psf in the three months to Mar 31, unchanged from the preceding three-month period.

However, Mr Michael Tay, executive director of office services at CBRE, cautioned that demand could be affected by uncertain economic conditions as well as the performance of the competing office market.

Other factors include demand for the technology sector, and whether it is "able to continue its momentum" after "a swath of expansion over the past 12 months", he said.