The former Mediacorp Caldecott Broadcast Centre in Caldecott Hill Estate was sold to a vehicle jointly owned by Perennial Holdings and its chairman Kuok Khoon Hong in December 2020 for $280.9 million (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - For much of the past two years, the redevelopment plans for the former Caldecott Broadcast Centre (CBC) have roused the interest of residents in the vicinity, namely the Caldecott Hill Good Class Bungalow (GCB) Estate in prime District 11.
The latest update that residents received was a circular from URA dated Nov 17, 2021. It was an invitation to a sharing session on the development plans by developer-owner Perennial Holdings and its appointed architects, DP Architects.
In the circular, which EdgeProp Singapore received a snapshot of, Perennial is proposing to redevelop the former CBC site into 15 GCBs with land sizes ranging from 1,400 sq m (15,070 sq ft t) to 23,300 sq m (250,801 sq ft). There is a possibility of future subdivision of the bigger plots, but the minimum land size will be maintained at 15,070 sq ft, as per URA’s planning guidelines for GCBs. The maximum number of GCBs on the site will be capped at 26.
A snapshot of the proposed site plan for 15 Good Class Bungalow sites with sizes ranging from 1,400 sq m (15,070 sq ft t) to 23,300 sq m (250,801 sq ft), by Perennial and DP Architects, shown in the URA circular dated Nov 17, 2021
Access to each of the 15 GCB plots will be from the existing roads, namely Andrew, John and Olive Roads, according to the URA circular. Perennial will be working with the Land Transport Authority to enhance these roads by widening the vehicle carriageways. Enhancements include new planting strips and pedestrian pathways along the edge of the site. The existing planting and pedestrian walkways will be retained to minimise inconvenience to residents. A new public park will be developed by Perennial within the site, and will serve as a pedestrian pathway linking the northern and southern parts of the estate.
Source: EdgeProp Inspector
The magic number
Speculation about the future plans of the CBC site began in early 2020 when Mediacorp initially proposed the development of 80 to 90 bungalows on sites of 400 sq m (4,306 sq ft) and 800 sq m (8,611 sq ft). This was pared down to 65 bungalows with minimum land size of 8,611 sq ft, following feedback from residents.
“The residents were concerned about the impact on traffic and the possible dilutive effect that an increase in dwelling units may have on the environment in a GCB zone,” says Michael Tay, CBRE head of capital markets, who was one of the joint marketing agents for the CBC site two years ago together with Karamjit Singh, CEO of Delasa (formerly Showsuite Consultancy).
The Mediacorp Caldecott Broadcast Centre has gone, along with Mediacorp which relocated to Mediapolis at one-north in 2015 (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
To allay residents’ concerns, there were several other iterations of larger bungalow plots on the CBC site, culminating in Perennial opting for 15 full-fledged GCB sites of at least 15,070 sq ft. When reached for comment, a Perennial Holdings’ spokesperson said: “We are still in the planning phase and are not ready to provide details.”
Perennial and its chairman Kuok Khoon Hong won the tender for the former CBC site in December 2020 with a bid of $280.9 million. It was the largest private redevelopment site sold that year.
Kuok, ranked Singapore’s 12th richest in 2021 by Forbes, is also co-founder, chairman and CEO of Wilmar International, one of the world’s largest palm oil producers and food processing companies. He is said to be taking the 250,821 sq ft plot for his extended family. The site is large enough for 11 GCBs and will be developed by Perennial.
The Caldecott Broadcast Centre site is close to the upcoming Caldecott MRT interchange station (construction pictured above) and Bukit Brown MRT station (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
“Today, there are hardly any large GCB sites available for sale for an extended family who want to live together,” notes Singh of Delasa. “This presents a unique opportunity, and given the design, the investment and infrastructure that is put into the development, it should mitigate the leasehold issue.”
First major release of 99-year leasehold GCBs
The last time such a large GCB plot was put up for sale was in 2003, when Raymond Ng of niche property developer BS Capital purchased a 276,112 sq ft, freehold GCB site at Bishopsgate from HSBC for $69.8 million. Ng subsequently carved up the plot into 16 small GCB sites of 15,070 sq ft to 16,000 sq ft for sale to individual owners. The buyers then engaged their own architects to design their bungalows.
URA, however, had stipulated that the owner-developer of the CBC site will have to sell the sites with houses. Perennial is therefore expected to sell the 15 GCB sites with bungalows designed by DP Architects. Buyers may be given some flexibility in terms of customisation of design and internal spaces, notes CBRE’s Tay.
“This will be the first such 99-year leasehold GCBs to be launched,” says Tay. “In order to induce GCB buyers who want to gain a foothold in the prime Caldecott Hill Estate to accept a 99-year leasehold site, prices have to be more attractive than the new freehold GCBs in the area.”
Samuel Eyo, managing director of Lighthouse Property Consultants, agrees. “The new GCB development at the former CBC site will certainly attract the attention of buyers,” he says. “There isn’t much GCB stock available for sale now as some owners have withdrawn their properties from the market, given the property cooling measures and concerns about replacement cost as prices of GCBs have escalated over the past two years.”
In 2021, there were half a dozen bungalow transactions at Caldecott Hill Estate, based on caveats lodged with URA Realis (see table). This is the highest level of activity in a decade.
A relatively new bungalow sitting on a freehold site of 10,529 sq ft, changed hands for $26.8 million ($2,545 psf), according to a caveat lodged last September. The buyer is Diana Lim, the daughter of Kopitiam founder Lim Bee Huat (Photo: GoogleMaps)
Prices of freehold GCBs, new and old
Transacted prices of relatively new, freehold GCBs in the neighbourhood have already crossed $2,000 psf, says CBRE’s Tay, pointing to the sale of a bungalow at Lornie Road. The property sits on a freehold site of 10,529 sq ft, and changed hands for $26.8 million ($2,545 psf), according to a caveat lodged last September. The buyer is Diana Lim, according to a property title search. She is believed to be the daughter of Lim Bee Huat, the founder of homegrown brand of food courts and coffee shops Kopitiam. The property is believed to have been completed about five years ago, as written permission for the redevelopment was obtained in 2015, according to EdgeProp Inspector.
An older bungalow sitting on a freehold site of 9,900 sq ft at Caldecott Close was sold for $13.9 million or $1,391 psf, according to a caveat lodged last November. The buyer is Christopher Han, an entrepreneur and founder of plumbing and sanitary works company Magnificent Seven Corp; as well as a founder and director of start-up data centre owner and operator Dodid, which was reportedly sold to YTL DC, a Singapore-based subsidiary of Malaysia’s YTL Power, last December.
The latest transaction was for a GCB at the corner of Lornie Road and Joan Road. It fetched $24.8 million or $981 psf, according to a caveat lodged on Jan 4 this year. The GCB has a freehold site of 25,272 sq ft. The buyer was James Koh, founder, executive chairman and CEO of Fragrance Group, property developer and hotelier. The property was purchased in October, with its completion extended to early January. The sale was brokered by Bruce Lye, managing partner of SRI, who declined to comment on the deal.
The latest GCB sale was of a GCB at the corner of Lornie Road and Joan Road. It sits on a freehold site of 25,272 sq ft and fetched $24.8 million or $981 psf, according to a caveat lodged on Jan 4, 2022. The buyer is James Koh, founder, chairman and CEO of Fragrance Group (Photo: SRI)
A trustee sale, the property at Lornie Road had a price tag of $27 million ($1,068 psf) when it was launched for sale by expressions of interest in late 2020. The purchase price is therefore just 8% below the original asking price.
Access to the property is currently from Lornie Road, but the new owner has an option to change the access to Joan Road, subject to approval from the authorities. The existing bungalow on the site is about 40 years old, having been built in 1982.
On the market
“Construction costs of a GCB today are expected to be at least $600 psf,” notes CBRE’s Tay.
On the market is a GCB on Joan Road sitting on a freehold site of 29,483 sq ft with a price tag of $50 million ($1,696 psf) [Photo: Mary Say/Knight Frank Singapore]
Asking prices for older GCBs on freehold sites in the Caldecott area are around $1,700 psf today. For instance, a GCB on Joan Road sitting on a freehold site of 29,483 sq ft has a price tag of $50 million ($1,696 psf). The property is marketed by Mary Sai, executive director of investment and capital markets at Knight Frank Singapore.
Lee Hsien Yang, the brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and his wife, Lim Suet Fern, sold a bungalow at Caldecott Close last July, according to a property title search. The bungalow sits on a freehold site of 9,920 sq ft.
Lee has put up for sale an adjacent bungalow at Caldecott Close. The house has a total gross floor area of 7,000 sq ft, and comes with a basement and swimming pool. It sits on a freehold site of 9,885 sq ft. The property is currently tenanted, and is listed for sale at $16.8 million ($1,700 psf). Knight Frank’s Sai is also marketing the property.
Lee Hsien Yang, brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, has put up a bungalow at Caldecott Close for sale at $16.8 million ($1,700 psf) [Photo: Mary Sai/Knight Frank Singapore]
‘Alternative to GCBs near Botanic Gardens’
Interest in GCBs in the Caldecott neighbourhood is still strong, notes SRI’s Lye, with some sellers being more realistic in their pricing in light of the cooling measures last month. “It’s an interesting alternative to Botanic Gardens if you like to live near a nature park,” he adds.
Last year, a GCB that was still under construction at 2 Cluny Hill was sold for $63.7 million or a record-breaking $4,291 psf. The GCB sits on a corner freehold site of 14,844 sq ft and is situated near Botanic Gardens. Incidentally, Lye brokered that sale too.
“With prices of GCBs around Botanic Gardens having shot through the roof, the Caldecott area is a great option if you want to live near MacRitchie Nature Trail and Reservoir Park,” he says.
Biggest ticket purchase in the Caldecott Hill area to date is the GCB on Olive Road which Secretlab co-founder and CEO paid $36 million ($1,537 psf) for in June last year (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
To date, the highest absolute price paid for a GCB in the Caldecott area is $36 million — the amount Ian Ang, the 29-year-old co-founder and CEO of Secretlab, a furniture company known for its gaming chairs, paid last June for a 23,424 sq ft, freehold GCB site sitting on Olive Road. The land rate worked out to $1,537 psf, and the deal was brokered by Stephen Ho, vice president of residential services at CBRE. The existing bungalow on the site was built in 1940, and Ang is likely to redevelop it in the future. The property was sold with existing tenancy.
“The attraction of Caldecott Hill Estate is its tranquil surroundings,” notes Knight Frank’s Sai. Besides its proximity to MacRitchie Nature Trail and Reservoir Park, it is also near two upcoming MRT stations, namely Caldecott MRT Interchange Station for the Circle and Thomson-East Coast Lines; and Bukit Brown MRT Station on the Circle Line.
Perennial is expected to roll out the new 99-year leasehold GCBs on the CBC site sometime in late 2022.
“The redevelopment of the former CBC site is certainly a catalyst for the increased interest in the Caldecott Hill Estate,” notes SRI’s Lye.