Urban rejuvenation efforts are gaining traction in Singapore as the government greenlights a series of redevelopment projects in the downtown core, including a reported plan by United Engineers Ltd to redevelop an Anson Road office tower into a mixed commercial and residential project.
The unit of Shanghai-based developer Yanlord Land has obtained provisional permission from the Urban Redevelopment Authority in June to redevelop the UE Bizhub Tower, a 23-storey tower in Tanjong Pagar, into a new complex combining office space with 255 serviced apartments and and ancillary retail, according to an account by the Business Times on Thursday.
While the URA declined to provide documents due to confidentiality, the BT said the proposal also qualifies for a 25 percent expansion in size that could boost the gross floor area to 361,480 square feet (33,582 square metres) under a program established by the authority to encourage development of more residential space in central Singapore.
The regulatory milestone positions UEL to add to a growing list of redevelopment projects approved by the regulator this year, led by the URA’s recent approval of a request by an Alibaba-led consortium to build Singapore’s tallest building on the site of the former AXA Tower at 8 Shenton Way – just a few blocks north of the UE Bizhub’s address at 79 Anson Road.
Downtown Living Promoted
Under the reported development approval, UEL is permitted to build up to 157,917 square feet office space, 4,736 square feet of retail accommodation and 255 serviced apartments on the freehold site.
If the proposed project qualifies for the incentive scheme, the developer will be eligible to add 72,295 square feet to the UE Bizhub’s 289,185 square feet of gross floor area.
UEL purchased the 1992-vintage property in December 2012 for S$410 million (now $297 million) from Singapore’s social security savings fund manager Central Provident Fund Board and German asset management firm SEB.
Located at the junction of Anson Road and Palmer Street, the building is linked to Tanjong Pagar MRT station and just a block over from the Twenty Anson office tower, which private equity giant KKR bought in April for S$599 million.
Mingtiandi reached out to UEL for comment but did not get a response by the time of publication.
The firm’s proposed redevelopment joins a parade of rejuvenation projects along the commercial strip from Raffles Place to Tanjong Pagar.
Alibaba, along with companies controlled by mainland investor Gordon Tang, tycoon Kuok Khoon Hong and Kuok-controlled Perennial Holdings and Wilmar International just less than one month ago won approval for their plan to construct a 305-metre (1,001-foot) tower on the AXA Tower site.
In February, Singapore private equity firm TE Capital Partners and LaSalle Investment Management completed the acquisition of the PIL Building on Cecil Street and are currently redeveloping that asset into a new office tower.
Also in progress near Tanjong Pagar is SingHaiyi Group’s redevelopment of Maxwell House, with the group controlled by Gordon Tang and wife Celine having won approval last quarter to knock down the ageing commercial block and builde a 324-unit residential tower with retail components, according to the same Business Times account.
In April of this year, private equity giant KKR bought the 20 Anson office building, which is located a few blocks from UE Bizhub Tower, from Boston-based fund manager AEW for just under S$599 million ($441.6 million).
Yanlord, which is chaired by Chinese billionaire Zhong Sheng Jian, acquired UE Bizhub Tower through its acquisition of UEL in late 2019 through a S$1.7 billion deal that resulted in the firm’s delisting from the Singapore bourse.
In April, Yanlord agreed to sell UE Bizhub Central in Singapore’s Ang Mo Kio area to Apple for S$55 million ($40.3 million).