Bidders face more conditions than usual in Bidadari site tender

Construction cranes at the former Bidadari cemetery on April 3, 2017. The area will be transformed into the Bidadari housing estate.
Construction cranes at the former Bidadari cemetery on April 3, 2017. The area will be transformed into the Bidadari housing estate. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

The tender for the first private home and retail site on offer to developers at the upcoming Bidadari housing estate is no ordinary one.

The tender document for the 2.54ha site, set to yield 825 homes as well as shops, comes with a raft of stipulations aimed at shaping the site into a landmark project.

It is envisioned as a "community in a garden" which is environmentally sustainable and car-lite.

Developers are also required to build a community centre and neighbourhood police branch, and are strongly encouraged to work with tenants of the retail portion on productivity initiatives.

Analysts note the tender document includes many more requirements than for typical residential sale sites - more on par with those for major Government Land Sales (GLS) commercial sites.

In a first for a site outside the Central Business District, bidding developers will be required to reduce the number of carpark spaces from the usual level.

The first site to have this requirement was a mixed-use white site at Central Boulevard, acquired for $2.57 billion by a subsidiary of IOI Properties last year.

In the tender document for the Upper Serangoon site, the Housing Board - the appointed land sales agent - stipulated the developer "is required to apply to the Land Transport Authority to take up a 20 per cent reduction under the range-based carparking standards for the residential component".

An LTA spokesman said that "given the excellent connectivity to public transport network and support for walking and cycling, a lower carparking provision under the prevailing range-based carparking standard is in line with the move towards a car-lite Singapore". The project is next to Woodleigh MRT station.

Mr Ong Teck Hui, JLL's national director of research and consultancy, said it was "significant" that the developer's proposal will be subject to design reviews by a panel chaired by HDB.

He said this is a requirement of prominent GLS sites, including more recent ones like the Central Boulevard site, Lendlease's Paya Lebar Quarter, as well as older sites such as one adjacent to Raffles Hotel and another site which has become Chijmes.

He singled out the productivity initiatives as being particularly interesting.

The successful bidder is strongly encouraged to work with tenants of its coffee shops, restaurants, retail and entertainment outlets to adopt productivity initiatives.

These include digital services that enable automated ordering and payment, as well as investing in self-check out systems.

One "productive food court/coffee shop model" also suggested using Ikea's self-service model.

Despite the numerous conditions, analysts expect bidding for the site to be competitive.

Mr Ong expects seven to 10 bidders, though one deterrent is the high land price owing to the large size of the development.

Mr Desmond Sim, CBRE's head of South-east Asia research, was more bullish, expecting 10 to 14 bids.

"Even with more stringent tender conditions, developers will still be interested because of the lack of development sites in the market. I don't think margins will be squeezed, because there will be creative ways to work around them," he said.

"You can look at the community centre and police post as a downer on margins, but they can also be seen as creating catchment for commercial space.

"As a commercial tenant, you have the bonus of being crime-free because of the police."

The tender for the 99-year leasehold site closes on June 13.

Lee Xin En

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2017, with the headline 'Bidders face more conditions than usual in Bidadari site tender'. Print Edition | Subscribe