City Developments Limited (CDL) is taking a second bite of the cherry with plans to redevelop Katong condominium Amber Park, which it built in 1986, into a far bigger project.
It beat seven other bidders with a $906.7 million offer as the 200-unit estate finally made good on its fourth attempt at a collective sale.
With a price tag well above the $768 million reserve, Amber Park has also set a record by dollar value for freehold properties sold en bloc.
CDL lodged the bid through its Cityzens Development subsidiary and a joint-venture partner from parent Hong Leong Group in an 80:20 pairing.
It plans to turn the 213,675 sq ft plot into a condominium of around 800 luxury apartments, spread over four 25-storey towers. No development charge is needed for the site, which has an allowable gross floor area of roughly 598,290 sq ft.
Amber Park home owners stand to make $4.3 million each for standard apartments, or $8.3 million for penthouses.
But woe to the owner who missed out on a bonanza after offloading an apartment in September last year. That unit went for $2.08 million - but could have fetched more than twice that had the seller waited a year.
Key plus points for the estate include its proximity to sought-after schools like Tanjong Katong Primary School and Tao Nan School, as well as to the upcoming Tanjong Katong MRT station, due in 2023.
Mr Galven Tan, director of capital markets at real estate consultancy CBRE, noted: "Developers are hungry to get a development site sooner rather than later.
"Prime freehold sites with good attributes will continue to attract strong bids from developers."
CDL chief executive-designate Sherman Kwek, who called the transaction "one of our most significant investment deals in the Singapore residential market in recent years", said in a statement: "In addition to its strong locational attributes, a distinct advantage of this site is its freehold status, something that is increasingly rare in Singapore."
A CDL spokesman added that the site has "tremendous potential" with "healthy demand" expected, given that the Katong and East Coast area is well established but also stands to gain from renewal projects such as the upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line and the redevelopment of East Coast Park.
Mr Tan Hong Boon, regional director of marketing agent JLL, said: "There are not many sites of similar size that are available for redevelopment in the Amber Road location, as most of the larger projects have been sold en bloc and redeveloped over the years.
"Amber Park could possibly be one of the last collective sale sites with a land area above 200,000 sq ft in this precinct."
With CDL's land price working out to $1,515 per sq ft (psf) per plot ratio, ZACD Group executive director Nicholas Mak has estimated that the minimum price for new units on the site will cross the $2,200 psf mark.
"For developers to acquire choice development sites in today's market, it is necessary for them to pay above the reserve prices," he noted.
The previous record for a freehold bulk sale came in 2007, when GuocoLand forked out $835 million for Leedon Heights, off Holland Road.