Know the stories behind Orchard Road's landmarks

OUE executive chairman Stephen Riady, whose OUE Hospitality Trust owns Mandarin Gallery, says Orchard Road must appeal to locals too for it to be successful.
OUE executive chairman Stephen Riady, whose OUE Hospitality Trust owns Mandarin Gallery, says Orchard Road must appeal to locals too for it to be successful.PHOTO: OVERSEAS UNION ENTERPRISE

Which building's carpark was the site of a lurid find in 2002, when a silver Daewoo car was found with a maggot-infested body in a wicker chest? Answer: Orchard Towers.

Did you know that several buildings in Orchard Road sit on a former cemetery? Ngee Ann City is one of them, and Cathay Cineleisure is another.

 

For more stories on the buildings in one of the world's most expensive streets and to hear from some of their owners, visit www.straitstimes.com, then click on the business section and look for the interactive feature on Orchard Road.

Property owners may be facing fierce competition now, but they are still upbeat about Orchard Road's prospects.

One of them, OUE executive chairman Stephen Riady, feels that while property is about good location, "for retail property, good location is not enough. You've got to have the right tenant mix".

He added: "Orchard Road is not just for tourists. "For it to remain relevant and successful, (it) needs to appeal to locals too. "

OUE Hospitality Trust owns Mandarin Orchard Singapore and Mandarin Gallery. Around 35 per cent of the retail brands or food and beverage concepts in Mandarin Gallery are unique. The 1,077-room hotel is among the largest in Singapore and the largest in Orchard Road.

The hotel, developed by OUE, was a landmark in Orchard Road when it was completed in 1957. This was partly because it was the tallest building in the area then and it had a revolving restaurant.

Indonesia's Lippo Group, which is controlled by the Riady family, has had a controlling stake in OUE since 2006.

It bought out the share of the other key stakeholder, Malaysian tycoon Ananda Krishnan, in 2010.

Dr Riady said Orchard Road remains a Singapore icon where tourists want to visit and stay.

"In Singapore, hotel yields are generally in the 4 to 6 per cent range. However, we have also witnessed hotel assets being transacted at prices which are way below 4 per cent yield. This shows there are keen buyers in investment-quality hospitality assets.

"The hotel scene in Orchard Road will remain vibrant and attractive to investors despite short- term challenges."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2015, with the headline 'Know the stories behind Orchard Road's landmarks'. Print Edition | Subscribe