Little India office units up for sale this month

According to OrangeTee.com, the marketing agent of Centrium Square (above), the development will be the first strata commercial launch this year, and probably one of only two new commercial launches expected for this year. It is expected to be comple
According to OrangeTee.com, the marketing agent of Centrium Square (above), the development will be the first strata commercial launch this year, and probably one of only two new commercial launches expected for this year. It is expected to be completed by 2021. PHOTO: TONG ENG GROUP

Office units at an upcoming freehold development in the heart of Little India are expected to be launched for sale at the end of this month, said OrangeTee.com, one of the project's marketing agents.

The 19-storey project, called Centrium Square, to be redeveloped from Serangoon Plaza in Serangoon Road, will comprise 231 strata units: 143 office units, 39 medical suites and 49 retail shops.

It is being developed by Feature Development, a unit of Tong Eng Group, which owns Serangoon Plaza through an en-bloc sale in 2013 that priced it at $400 million. Serangoon Plaza, which is next to the 24-hour department store Mustafa Centre, will be demolished at the end of this year or early next year.

"Centrium Square will be the first strata commercial launch in 2016, and probably one of only two new commercial launches expected for this year," said OrangeTee.com executive director Marcus Oh.

The other is Woods Square by Far East Organization, in Woodlands Regional Centre, he added.

OrangeTee.com said 78 office units will be offered for sale in the first phase of the launch. These are on the ninth to 14th storey, with unit size ranging from 570 sq ft to 1,012 sq ft. More units may be released if demand is strong.

Indicative pricing for the office unit is between $2,600 psf and $2,800 psf before an "early bird discount", Mr Oh added. 

OrangeTee.com said it expects "a healthy take-up rate", owing to the dearth of similar freehold development in the area in recent years.

Investors, however, are likely to be less gung-ho amid concerns over weaker economic growth and rising office space supply.

A comparable freehold project in the vicinity is ARC 380 in Jalan Besar, also developed by Tong Eng, which achieved an average price of $2,450 psf in 2014.

Knight Frank Singapore head of research and consultancy Alice Tan said: "With persistent difficulty to lease out strata-titled office and retail units and a muted market sentiment ahead, investors are becoming more discerning in terms of price offers."

Cushman & Wakefield research director Christine Li said freehold strata office can still be a good investment opportunity for the medium to long term, "if the investor is prepared to ride out the volatility in the market over the next couple of years".

One potential investor is Mr Ng Wee Meng, managing director of Swee Choon Co, who is hunting for a suitable office space to relocate his import and export business operations from Jurong.

"We have been looking around, the market and prices seem reasonable now... (our budget) is about $3 million to $4 million," he added.

Mr Oh said retail units at Centrium Square are not for sale, however. Tong Eng will retain the two floors of retail units, managing the mall "as a recurring income asset".

This marks the developer's first foray into the mall management business, and F&B will be a key component of the retail mix.

OrangeTee.com said the medical suites will be sold "on a per floor basis", and neither the sales price nor launch date have been fixed.

Centrium Square is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 02, 2016, with the headline 'Little India office units up for sale this month'. Print Edition | Subscribe