Hotel Properties Ltd, the builder controlled by billionaire Ong Beng Seng, has secured provisional permission from Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority to transform a set of Orchard Road buildings into a mixed-use project with hotel, retail, office and residential components.
The total approved gross floor area for HPL’s proposed redevelopment is 114,153 square metres (over 1.2 million square feet) across 14,027 square metres of freehold and 999-year leasehold land currently occupied by three of the company’s properties: The Forum mall, the Voco Orchard Singapore hotel and the HPL House commercial block.
HPL envisions the project at the junction with Cuscaden Road as a focal point in the northwest end of Orchard Road and a gateway destination providing connectivity between the site and neighbouring developments.
“If and when it is implemented and completed, the proposed redevelopment will transform this part of Orchard Road into a vibrant, energetic, significant and prominent precinct,” the company said Monday in a filing with the Singapore Exchange.
Unfazed by Arrest
The approval under the URA’s Strategic Development Incentive remains subject to terms and conditions. It calls for a comprehensive redevelopment comprising two tower buildings of 64 and 43 storeys on a six-storey podium with a rooftop garden, a performance theatre and a basement carpark, with a separate 29-storey tower erected over the contiguous basement carpark.
The design of the garden atop the podium would draw reference from the geometry of the architecture, with landscaping visuals and a diversity of trees and plant species in keeping with the City in Nature vision, aligning the project with the government’s Singapore Green Plan 2030, which aims to connect green spaces and restore nature in urban areas, among other goals set for the remainder of the decade. HPL said it has yet to set a timeline for the proposed redevelopment.
By giving its tentative nod to the effort, the URA appears unfazed by the involvement of the headline-making Ong Beng Seng, who was arrested last month and asked by Singapore’s anti-graft agency to provide details regarding his interactions with S. Iswaran, the transport minister who was put on leave and asked to stay in the country as part of a corruption probe.
HPL said at the time that co-founder and controlling shareholder Ong was fully cooperating with the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau and had already provided the agency with requested information. The Malaysian-born tycoon was subsequently permitted to travel overseas on business, and he later returned to the city-state.
Seeds of Rejuvenation
As a high-end retail destination dotted with ageing buildings, Orchard Road has attracted the interest of developers including Pacific Eagle Real Estate. The company owned by the family of Indonesian lumber tycoon Sukanto Tanoto acquired the Tanglin Shopping Centre in early 2022 for S$868 million ($645.6 million) via a collective sale by the strata-titled asset’s owners — including local heavyweight City Developments Ltd — and hinted at plans to redevelop the 1970s-era commercial and retail complex.
In February of this year, Singaporean real estate firm Hiap Hoe announced that the attempted collective sale of Orchard Towers had failed, a year after owners of units in the notorious entertainment and office complex put the property on the market with a reserve price of S$1.6 billion ($1.2 billion).
Built in 1975, Orchard Towers stands directly opposite HPL’s combined site across Orchard Road and includes an 18-storey tower with retail and office space and a 25-storey building housing 58 private residential units and some commercial units.
Last month, the owners of the Far East Shopping Centre at the corner of Orchard Road and Angullia Park put that complex up for collective sale at a price of S$928 million ($699 million). The 1974-vintage property is home to over 600 stores across a five-storey retail podium, with another 10 floors dedicated to strata-titled office units.