Fifteen 99-year good class bungalows proposed for former Caldecott Broadcast Centre site

The former Caldecott Broadcast Centre site will be redeveloped into at least 15 good class bungalows. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Fifteen 99-year good class bungalows (GCBs) are being planned on the sprawling former Caldecott Broadcast Centre site in Andrew Road in what is potentially the biggest cluster of leasehold GCBs to be launched in a predominantly freehold GCB area in Caldecott Hill.

Perennial Holdings, in a Nov 17, 2021, internal circular seen by The Straits Times, has proposed redeveloping the 752,015 sq ft leasehold site into 15 bungalows in the initial phase, with each bungalow having sizeable plots ranging from 1,400 sq m (15,070 sq ft) to 23,300 sq m (250,800 sq ft). 

An entity jointly owned by Perennial and its chairman, Mr Kuok Khoon Hong, bought the site in late 2020 for $280.9 million.

“Given the large plot sizes of these 15 bungalows, Perennial highlighted that there is a possibility for these to be subdivided into multiple bungalow plots by future owners,” according to the circular from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to residents.

“Perennial has simulated 26 bungalows that will be built (that is, the initial 15 bungalows plus another 11 bungalows in the future). All the subdivided bungalows will have a minimum plot size of 1,400 sq m,” it added.

When asked, Perennial said on Friday (Jan 21): “We are still in the planning phase for the project and will make available an official statement at the appropriate time.”

Mr Kuok, also the chairman and chief executive of palm oil producer Wilmar International, is said to be taking the largest plot - large enough for 11 GCBs - for his extended family, according to The Business Times and EdgeProp.

Mr Kuok's uncle, Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok, is not involved in the project, a Perennial spokesman said. 

There are already a handful of existing 99-year leasehold GCBs in the Bukit Timah area, Mr Samuel Eyo, managing director of Lighthouse Property Consultants, noted.

“But the former Caldecott Broadcast Centre site is first big plot that can be subdivided into a number of 99-year GCB plots, and it will also be the biggest cluster of 99-year GCBs in a predominantly freehold GCB area in Caldecott Hill,” he said.

Mediacorp had been granted an outline approval by the URA to redevelop the site, located in the Caldecott Hill good class bungalow area, into 65 two-storey bungalows with a minimum land area of 800 sq m per house.

It had scaled down its proposal to 65 bungalows from 80 to 90 bungalows on a mix of 400 sq m and 800 sq m plots, after its engagement with residents in February 2020. The site was sold in late 2020 to the entity jointly owned by Perennial and Mr Kuok.

The site, currently zoned for civic and community institution use under the URA’s Master Plan 2019, will have to be rezoned to residential use, which will entail payment of a differential premium to the state.

The leasehold site has a balance lease term of 72 years, which means the developer would also need to pay a lease upgrading premium to the Singapore Land Authority for the lease to be extended to a fresh 99-year tenure.

Some analysts say they cannot comment on the potential pricing of the 15 proposed leasehold GCBs because they do not know the development charges and the costs of topping up the lease to 99 years. 

“Another unknown factor is how much land is being set aside for building roads to the 15 GCBs,” said Mr Eyo said. “It will likely be a lot less than the initial amount of land set aside for building roads to the initial proposed 65 GCBs. The potential land costs per square foot that will be sold to the future owners is therefore not known at this point.”

But Mr Eyo noted that the price differential between a new leasehold landed property and a new freehold landed property is usually between 20 per cent and 30 per cent.

The highest psf price achieved for transactions in the Caldecott Hill GCB area last year was $1,537 psf, or $36 million, for a GCB in nearby Olive Road. It was sold to Mr Ian Ang, co-founder and chief executive of ergonomic chair retailer Secretlab. 

“If Perennial sells its 99-year GCB at 30 per cent below $2,100 psf, which is the estimated cost to redevelop the freehold Olive Road site, it may attract buyers, Mr Eyo said.

According to the circular, Perennial has proposed for the 15 bungalows to take vehicle access directly from existing estate roads - Andrew Road, John Road and Olive Road, which are in the Upper Thomson area.

Perennial will also be working with the Land Transport Authority to improve the estate roads by widening the existing vehicle carriageways, and adding new roadside planting strips and public walkways along the edge of the site.

A new estate park will also be provided, and will serve as a pedestrian link to improve connectivity between the northern and southern parts of the estate, the circular said. 

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