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Paya Lebar site may cost more than a billion dollars: Analysts

Analysts say the area lacks character and a core focus, but that could change when a commercial site next to the MRT is released for sale in October. 

SINGAPORE: A commercial site along Paya Lebar Road that is expected to be launched for sale later this year could set the tone for the development of the Paya Lebar regional centre. That is according to some property analysts, who also say that any developer keen on the site may have to cough up more than a billion dollars, just in land cost alone.

In October, the Government is expected to release a 4-hectare commercial site next to the MRT station for sale. Some analysts estimate that the potential "Grade A" development could offer about one million square feet of net lettable space, with office space taking up about 50 to 60 per cent. About 440 residential units can also be built there.

However, the site will not come cheap. "The land cost alone will be S$1 billion or even more, and that increases the risk to any single developer who wants to take a bite of this," said Mr Alan Cheong, Senior Director of Research & Consultancy for Savills Singapore. He believes that developers will come in as a consortium for this particular site.

"This project itself, with more than 130,000 sq metres of gross floor area commercial space, together with Paya Lebar Central, will set a tone for this area," he added. "There is no character right now for Paya Lebar."

Once a sleepy industrial estate, Paya Lebar was earmarked for development as a commercial hub outside the city centre under the 2008 Masterplan, as part of the government's decentralisation strategy. But some property-watchers say that the area -- with its mix of workshops and industrial premises -- seems to lack a core focus right now, compared to regional centres in Jurong and Tampines., and believe more can be done to attract more companies to locate here.

Said Century 21 CEO Ku Swee Yong: "SingPost is obviously not sufficient now to bring in a lot more demand for office space, or fill up the industrial B1 space in the Paya Lebar area. But if, for example, we have a Government ministry that is willing to relocate there with about 70,000 sq ft of space - that could be a trigger, a catalyst that would bring other SMEs and service-providers to Paya Lebar Regional Centre."

According to Savill, the average office rental rate at Paya Lebar is currently around $6.50 per square foot per month, compared to S$5.50 in Tampines, and S$7 to S$8 for some of the newer commercial projects in Jurong. Analysts add that Paya Lebar could potentially appeal to firms in the IT, telecom and multimedia industries.

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