Mainland tech giant Alibaba together with consortium partners led by Perennial Holdings are set to build Singapore’s tallest tower after regulators approved their proposal for a 305-metre (1,001-foot) skyscraper in Tanjong Pagar.
In a grant of written permission dated 7 July, the Urban Redevelopment Authority approved the proposal to redevelop the AXA Tower at 8 Shenton Way into a 63-storey mixed-use skyscraper measuring up to 148,450 square metres (1.6 million square feet) in total space.
Incorporating office, residential and hotel components, the proposed structure will surpass the 284-metre Guoco Tower as the tallest building in the city, with the skyscrapers standing out as the only two buildings permitted to surpass the city’s maximum height limit of 280 metres.
“Beyond the height of 290 SHD (Singapore height datum), only 8 Shenton Way has a higher approved building height currently at 305 SHD, which is the highest that URA has granted for developments in Singapore,” a spokesperson from the authority said in an emailed response to queries from Mingtiandi.
Terraces in the Sky
Based on the approved plan, 59 percent or 87,967 square metres of the building’s permitted gross floor area will be dedicated to commercial use, with another 33 percent or 49,421 square metres allocated for 215 “residential flats with sky terraces”, while the hotel component allows for 11 suites spanning 6,775 square metres in total. The remaining floor area is set aside for balconies, indoor recreational space and the rooftop.
The project was allowed to exceed the size of the current AXA Tower in part by qualifying for the URA’s central business district incentive scheme for redevelopment projects incorporating residential components. By adding homes to the project, the developers received permission to expand the gross floor area by 28,832 square metres, with the project set to exceed the size of the 50-storey AXA Tower’s 95,690 square metres by 55 percent.
The approved plans also include a two-storey retail podium, a floor dedicated to office, hotel and residential lobbies, four basement levels and an underground pedestrian link.
“The allowable building heights are subject to technical requirements as well as evaluation based on respective site context,” the URA spokesperson said. “Developments would have to be built in accordance with the approved plans and guidelines.”
Alibaba, Perennial and Tang Firms
The development consortium, which is led by Alibaba with its 50 percent stake, followed by the 29 percent share held by a joint venture of SGX-listed agribusiness giant Wilmar International, Perennial Holdings and Wilmar/Perennial boss Kuok Khoon Hong, secured the URA approval just over three months after welcoming companies controlled by mysterious Chinese investor Gordon Tang to the team.
Chip Eng Seng Corp, together with a joint venture between SingHaiyi Group and Haiyi Holdings, all of which are controlled by Tang, together with his wife Celine, the ultimate source of whose wealth remains unclear, in April agreed to purchase a combined 21 percent stake in the project from units of Singapore Press Holdings and local retailer Bread Talk. They acquired the one-fifth interest in two separate transactions valued at S$353 million, based on the estimated value of the existing AXA Tower at S$1.68 billion ($1.22 billion).
Perennial, which declined to comment, will provide property management and asset management services for the finished project.
2028 Completion Eyed
Scheduled for completion by 2028 based on earlier announcements, 8 Shenton Way will dethrone the 64-storey Guoco Tower as the tallest skyscraper in Singapore a little over a decade after GuocoLand completed the tower in 2016.
Both connecting to Tanjong Pagar MRT station, the two megastructures sit across Anson Road from each other along the Shenton Way-Tanjong Pagar commercial strip. Also in the neighbourhood is CapitaLand’s 52-floor Capital Tower at 168 Robinson Road, which at 254 metres in height is also among the tallest skyscrapers in the city.
The new project is kicking off as the available supply of office space in central Singapore has been shrinking, causing prices of strata floors and office rents to spike, according to property analysts.
Knight Frank reported that the volume of strata office sales in the first half of this year fell 16 percent from the preceding six months to total just 145 units as investors bought up available supply, while average prices jumped 10 percent to S$2,319 per square foot in the same period.
In the leasing market, data from Savills showed that Grade A office rents in Singapore’s central business district inched up by 0.4 percent to S$9.47 per square foot during the April-June period, compared to the previous quarter. Year-on-year, last quarter’s 1.1 percent increase quickened from the 0.3 percent growth in the first three months of the year.