Singapore-listed builder SLB Development has picked up a pair of low-rise office buildings between the city-state’s Boat Quay and Clarke Quay areas with plans to renovate or redevelop the ageing assets near the Singapore River, Mingtiandi has learned.
The property investment and development firm headed by Matthew Ong, of the family behind Lian Beng Construction, is purchasing the adjoining five-storey office blocks at 38 and 40 South Bridge Road for S$13.58 million ($10.26 million), according to a social media post late last week by Savills Singapore, which brokered the deal.
This most recent pick-up follows a string of three Singapore acquisitions worth over S$311 million which SLB participated in during 2022, as the company continues to beef up its value-add portfolio in its home city with investments across the commercial and residential spectrum.
SLB, which declined to comment on the deal, is buying the assets from a unit of local property player Hwa Hong Corp, with plans to renovate or redevelop the properties, according to market sources. The disposal comes after Hwa Hong was privatised late last year amid a long-standing dispute among the descendants of deceased patriarch of Ong Chay Tong (no relation to the Ong family behind SLB and Lian Beng).
Down by the Riverside
The two properties occupy a combined 2,624 square foot (244 square metre) site, and are currently occupied by a unit of Hwa Hong. Mingtiandi understands that SLB is taking over the assets based on vacant possession.
Planning documents filed with Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority show that, in April 2022, the Hwa Hong unit which then controlled the assets had won approval for a plan to redevelop the site into a six-storey office building with ground level food and beverage space measuring up to 11,020 square feet of gross floor area in total.
Based on that maximum allowable span, SLB is paying roughly S$1,232 per square foot of built area, with the two land parcels having 17 and 24 years left on their 99-year leasehold tenures.
“We are proud to have brokered the sale of 38 & 40 South Bridge Road. This off-market transaction is testament to Savills’ unparalleled outreach and understanding of investors requirements,” Galven Tan, deputy managing director for the investment sales and capital markets division of Savills Singapore, said in the Linkedin post. The property firm declined to comment further on the transaction.
Located just south of Clarke Quay and within 10 minutes’ walking distance of Raffles MRT station, SLB’s new assets sit just a few blocks away from a pair of commercial assets along North Canal Road which the company purchased in June.
The firm controlled by Singapore construction giant Lian Beng Group acquired the four-storey office blocks at 30 and 31 North Canal Road for S$14.38 million with plans to add value through “green and sustainable repositioning.”
In March of last year SLB had teamed up with Hong Kong-based Weave Living to acquire a row of two-storey shophouses at 17 to 33 Jalan Sultan in the Bugis area for S$75 million, which the partners have since transformed into a 65 unit rental housing complex.
In July, SLB joined a group of local developers, including listed firm KSH Holdings, in acquiring the Euro-Asia Apartments along Serangoon Road for S$222 million with the consortium planning to redevelop the complex into a 172-unit condo t.project.
Outside its home city, last August SLB snapped up a 12-storey office building at 225 King Street in Melbourne, Australia for A$35.5 million (then $25.5 million), with plans to upgrade that asset.
Hwa Hong’s disposal of the South Bridge Road properties came four months after it was delisted from the Singapore Exchange last September following a privatisation that valued the company at S$261 million.
Prior to its privatisation, the real estate firm founded by the late Ong Chay Tong had been mired in conflict over assets among his six sons, following the patriarch’s death in 1993.