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Holland Village shops should innovate: analysts

Property analysts say existing shops at Holland Village will have to innovate and keep pace with changing demands when a new mixed-use development in the area opens in the future.

SINGAPORE: Property analysts say existing shops at Holland Village will have to innovate and keep pace with changing demands when a new mixed-use development in the area opens in the future.

Authorities announced on Tuesday that a commercial and residential plot at Holland Road is being released as part of the Holland Village Extension plan, as unveiled in the 2014 Master Plan.

Mr Sam Thambi and his family have been running their magazine and newspaper business, Thambi Magazine Store, at Holland Village for over three generations since the 1940s, and they have practically become an icon of the area.

But with a new mixed-use development coming up, Mr Thambi said he has some concerns about how that might impact business.

"Having new buildings -- well it's inevitable, we can't stop developing, we have to grow. At the same time, if we can come up with an idea to still retain this village atmosphere -- which we've already lost more than 50 per cent of it -- I don't know how they can do it, but if we can retain it, then it'll be very good.

“Somehow I’ve bonded with this area, I had offers at other parts of Singapore, but I've never wanted to go,” he said.

Property analysts said the new development is likely to bring more footfall to the area, which may also translate into higher shop rentals.

Competition from new outlets could also lead to existing landlords wanting to spruce up -- another reason why rentals might rise.

“For certain trades, they probably have to innovate themselves, to make sure they're keeping pace with the demand and supply and also the kind of changes taking place in the area, because you may attract many different kinds of shoppers or people who visit the place.

“To cater for that kind of new demand, the tenants will always have to innovate to make sure they can actually provide value-added service. So that is another way to justify the higher rental,” said Associate Professor Sing Tien Foo from the National University of Singapore’s Department of Real Estate.

But some existing outlets say they are confident that customers will still patronise them in the long-run.

Faizal Ahmad Rajah, operations manager at Barossa Bar, said: "Probably because it's a new thing at Holland Village, so at the beginning it'll probably affect the business.

“But because knowing Holland Village and the atmosphere on its own, the guests will probably come back."

Observers say the new mixed-use development could see a variety of essential services including clinics, dentists as well as education centres, along with more food and beverage outlets to complement the existing offering.

The new mixed-use development will also provide more housing options for people, with an estimated 580 residential units.

But some property analysts say the units are likely to be small, being either two-room or studio apartments, which may be more appealing to younger households.

Ku Swee Yong, CEO of Century 21 Singapore, said: “There hasn't been any significant development for the several hundred apartments that have been launched within a five-minute walking distance from Holland Village in the last five years.

“One MRT station away up north and one MRT station away down south, and prices have already gone as high as over S$2,000 per square foot.

“So we would expect the developer who is bidding for this to be pricing their residential component, estimated at 580 units, at above S$2,000 per square foot when they open for sale.

“The commercial units would be worth around S$4,000 per square foot type of value, and that would mean that the total bid price for this piece of land may be as high as a billion dollars.

“That would also then help some of the older existing properties increase their value, because of the potential of the attraction of this new development at Holland Village.

“I would recommend investors to focus on looking at properties around Holland Village, probably focusing on the freehold properties that are now priced at about S$1,300 to S$1,400 per square foot -- they should be able to see significant capital gains in the future.”

The commercial and residential site is expected to be launched in December. 

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