Redeveloped Funan mall to be completed in 2019

Funan DigitaLife Mall, which closed this July, will undergo three years of redevelopment works, according to CapitaLand Mall Trust Management on Friday (Jul 22).

This is to enhance the site’s attractiveness as a lifestyle destination in the revitalised Civic and Cultural District in Singapore, according to its press release.

Slated to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2019, the new integrated development will comprise retail, office and serviced residence components measuring approximately 887,000 square feet in total gross floor area – almost double its current size, it said.

CapitaLand Mall Trust Management, the manager of CapitaLand Mall Trust, also announced that CMT’s distributable income for the first half of the year was S$193.9 million, a 3.7 per cent increase over the S$186.9 million for the same period last year.

Distribution per unit (DPU) for the same period was 5.47 cents, a 1.5 per cent increase over the DPU of 5.39 cents for the same period last year, it added.

For the Apr 1 to Jun 30 period, the distributable income was S$97.1 million, a 3.3 per cent increase over the S$94 million for the same period last year. DPU of 2.74 cents for the second quarter was 1.1 per cent higher than the 2.71 cents for the same quarter last year.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 22 Jul 2016

Private home prices dip 0.4% in Q2

The prices for private residential properties decreased by 0.4 per cent in the second quarter of this year, compared to the 0.7 per cent decline in the previous quarter, according to figures released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Friday (Jul 22).

The prices of landed properties declined by 1.5 per cent, compared to the 1.1 per cent decline in the previous quarter, while non-landed property prices dipped 0.1 per cent compared to the previous quarter’s 0.6 per cent, it said.

Rental prices for these properties also dropped 0.6 per cent in the second quarter, the figures showed.

Developers had launched 2,371 uncompleted private residential units, excluding Executive Condominiums, for sale in the second quarter, compared to 953 units in the previous quarter.

Supply aside, demand also picked up as developers sold 2,256 private residential units, excluding ECs, compared to the 1,419 units sold previously, URA said.

As for ECs, developers launched 1,260 units for sale in the same quarter, and sold 1,105 units. This was an increase from the 534 units launched and 762 units sold in the previous quarter, according to the figures.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 22 Jul 2016

Private home sales slump in June with fewer property launches

Sales of new private homes slumped last month as fewer projects were launched during the June school holiday period.

Excluding executive condominiums (ECs), property developers sold 536 units in June, nearly half of the 1,058 units sold in May, data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) showed on Friday (Jul 15). Including ECs, 768 units were sold, down from May’s 1,392 units.

The lacklustre sales came as developers launched just 234 units, down more than 80 per cent from the 1,345 units launched in May.

“There are three reasons for the subdued buying sentiments; firstly, it coincided with the June school holidays – where families may be away for holidays. Secondly, there was a lack of mass market launches with developers preferring to launch their new projects at a later date. Furthermore, with loan curbs still in place, homebuyers remained selective on their purchase decisions,” said Mr Ismail Gafoor, CEO of real estate agency PropNex Realty.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 15 Jul 2016

Drop in prices for office retail spaces

Singapore office space prices fell by 1.5 per cent in the second quarter. Rentals of office space also fell by 3.5 per cent in this quarter, compared to the 2.1 per cent dip in the first quarter of the year, URA figures showed.

Meanwhile, prices for retail space fell by 3.1 per cent in the second quarter, following a 1.9 per cent dip in the previous quarter. Rentals of retail space also fell by 3.9 per cent in the second quarter, compared to the 1.9 per cent drop in the first quarter, it added.

In terms of the amount of retail space available, URA said the island-wide vacancy rate rose to 7.8 per cent at the end of the second quarter, from 7.3 per cent at the end of the previous quarter.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 22 Jul 2016

Weaker demand for hotels in city area as NDP returns to National Stadium

As this year’s National Day Parade (NDP) will return to the National Stadium for the first time in 10 years, hotels in the city area have taken a hit with slower booking rates around the Aug 9 public holiday, and some of them are also charging a lower premium for rooms compared to previous years.

For the past 10 years, Marina Mandarin Singapore had been able to expect full occupancy on National Day as people would want to get a good view of the spectacular fireworks in the comfort of a hotel room. But with the NDP moving from the Marina Bay area to the new National Stadium this year, the hotel, which has 575 rooms, is only expecting occupancy to hit 90 per cent.

“This is the first time in 10 years we do not expect full occupancy for the hotel,” said the hotel’s spokesperson Patricia Yong.

“This year is quieter; demand is not as much due to the location of the celebration. Previous years we do see the take up as early as nine months in advance but for this year, surprisingly, inquiries were only coming in like two to three weeks back,” she added.

With weaker demand, comes lower prices. A one-night stay at Marina Mandarin starts from S$250, 80 per cent lower than last year. Pan Pacific Singapore, another hotel which is not expecting full occupancy on National Day, is charging a minimum of S$420 per night, S$20 cheaper than last year.

The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia has also noticed a slower pace of bookings this year. Director of Public Relations and Marketing Communications, Nathalyn Fong said it could be due to the parade’s location and this year’s National Day falling on a Tuesday instead of on a weekend.

“I think people are not really familiar with the views of the parade and the fireworks. There are also no fringe activities happening on the floating platform,” said Ms Fong. She added that the hotel is still expecting full occupancy on National Day with most of the bookings made by foreigners.

HOTELS WITH VIEWS OF THE FIREWORKS STILL SEE STRONG DEMAND

This year’s NDP will have both indoor and outdoor fireworks, and for hotels such as Conrad Centennial Singapore, which is located just across Kallang River and which has views that take in the National Stadium, it is still seeing strong demand for its rooms.

“The hotel has witnessed similar levels of booking in the past years, with higher demand on the preview dates and on National Day itself,” said the hotel’s spokesperson. A one-night stay at their fireworks-facing room costs a minimum of S$475.

PARKROYAL on Beach Road, which is just a stone’s throw away from the National Stadium, has also seen an increase in the number of enquiries, said the hotel’s general manager, David Donald, but he added that the rooms are being snapped up at a slower pace compared to last year.

Ms Sally Tan, whose family spent about S$2,000 last year to catch the fireworks display from Swissotel The Stamford, said the experience was phenomenal but would give it a miss this year.

“The fireworks at this year’s NDP will not be as spectacular as last year’s SG50. My family and I would probably go to the open space just beside the National Stadium to enjoy the fireworks. It’s cheaper,” said the 56-year-old administrative assistant.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 19 Jul 2016

Singapore, Malaysia sign MoU on High-Speed Rail project

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Singapore-Malaysia High-Speed Rail (HSR) project was signed by the neighbouring countries on Tuesday (Jul 19).

Singapore Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak witnessed the ceremony, which was held at the latter’s official residence at Sri Perdana.

Putting pen to paper were Singapore Transport Minister and Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure Khaw Boon Wan along with Malaysian Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan.

PM Lee was also accompanied by Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan, while PM Najib had Minister of Transport Liow Tiong Lai and Minister of Foreign Affairs Anifah Aman in attendance as well.

“GAME-CHANGER”

The 350km line is expected to reduce travel time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to around 90 minutes.

At the signing, PM Lee pointed to the economic benefits that would come from being “next door to one another, one and a half hours away”.

He said: “That means opportunities for our business people, opportunities for our tourists, opportunities for people from other countries … you can get both destinations for the price of one.”

Mr Najib concurred, saying: “I share PM (Lee) Hsien Loong’s optimism about impact on this project to the economies of both Malaysia and Singapore.

“You can do an initial study in terms of the multiplier effect that this project will bring to both countries in terms of increase in GNI (gross national income), in terms of jobs. For example, we expect the creation of almost 30,000 jobs through the implementation of the HSR.

“And beyond the numbers, if you look in terms of the big picture, this project will bring about a tremendous change in terms of not only Klang Valley, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, but the towns in between: Seremban, Melaka, Muar, Batu Pahat, Johor – all these towns along the way will see a new impetus in terms of their economic development.

“So when you ask the question of how it’s going to impact our economies, the short answer is that is will be a game-changer.”

Said Mr Lee: “It’s a major undertaking; it will cost quite a lot on both sides. And we have to get it right, but if we do, it will be a lasting and a strategic contribution.”

The Singapore prime minister added: “I think we will work very closely together; it’s a very tight timeline, and there are many potential bumps – the global economy may or may not be one because that’s an external factor.

“As long as the countries have been able to put aside their resources which are available, the project will proceed. But the project itself has got many complexities, and they all have to be put together like a very complicated jigsaw puzzle, and we must make sure that we can all … those things right, in order to get the project done, in the most expeditious time.”

Mr Lee said that the tender process is one issue that the two sides have to settle. He noted: “The structure has to be right, the execution has to be well, properly done, and when we evaluate the tenders, the evaluation has to be objective, fair, transparent so that when we make a decision, we are quite sure we get best value and the best choice for the project. And it’s something both sides will be working closely together on.

“At the end of it, we will have to make a joint decision, because this is a joint project, and we will both have to carry the consequences of our choice.”

A TIME TO ‘PAUSE AND CELEBRATE’: KHAW

The signing ceremony took place as part of a Singapore-Malaysia leaders’ retreat, which saw the prime ministers come together earlier in the day for a “four-eye” meeting and private lunch session.

First unveiled in February 2013 by PMs Lee and Najib at a leaders’ retreat, the proposed 350km-long HSR line aims to reduce travel time between Singapore and Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur to around 90 minutes by train.

The MoU captures key points of agreement on the project, including technical parameters, commercial model, customs, immigration and quarantine clearance, safety and security matters, regulatory framework as well as project management, a joint release by Malaysia’s Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) and Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) said.

Said Mr Khaw after the signing ceremony: “I felt a deep sense of satisfaction, having been involved in this project since day one.

“The MOU means we are one step closer to our dream of bringing KL within 90 minutes of Singapore. Think of the many economic activities that can emerge with this dramatically improved connectivity. Travelling will become such a breeze, and our countries will be drawn even closer together. Properly structured and well-executed, HSR can bring so much benefit to both peoples. Much hard work lies ahead, but for the moment, we can pause and celebrate!”

The Singapore Prime Minister’s Office said that when completed, the HSR will boost connectivity, strengthen economic ties and forge closer people-to-people linkages. “The signing of the MoU is a significant milestone and testament to our close bilateral cooperation,” it said on Monday.

Malaysia’s Minister of Transport Liow Tiong Lai echoed Mr Najib’s comment that the agreement was a “game-changer” for Malaysia’s economy and one that would strengthen bilateral relations.

“It will push the country’s economy to grow and flourish … We work closely between the two countries and will benefit the people in both countries,” he said.

“MAJOR PIECES ARE NOW IN PLACE”: WONG

Singapore Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong hailed the signing of the MoU and the projected completion of the HSR by 2026. In a post on his Facebook page, he wrote: “The major pieces of the project are now in place. We’ll have to work hard together over the next 10 years to implement the plans.”

Mr Wong also noted that by the time the HSR is projected to be completed in 2026, “we should also see the site of the Singapore HSR terminus – the Jurong Lake District (JLD) – shaping up nicely as our second CBD.”

Wrote Mr Wong: “The HSR and JLD are important game-changers that will keep our economy strong and vibrant, create more good jobs and improve the quality of life for Singaporeans.”

Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who was at the signing, posted photos of the ceremony on his Facebook page. He wrote: “The MOU signed today is a major step and reflects the flourishing Singapore – Malaysia ties.

“I can still recall taking the old KTM train with my parents for the overnight journey from Singapore to KL.” Dr Balakrishnan added: “Looking forward to making the 90-minute journey to KL once the High-Speed Rail is completed.”

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 19 Jul 2016

KL-Singapore High-Speed Rail projected to start around 2026

The High-Speed Rail (HSR) line linking Singapore and Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur (KL) is expected to start operations around 2026. This was announced at a joint press conference on Tuesday (July 19) after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the neighbouring countries.

The signing ceremony, witnessed by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak, comes ahead of a legally binding bilateral agreement that will be inked by the end of this year.

Construction of the HSR is scheduled to take place from 2018 to 2025, followed by testing, commissioning and finally kick-off for the revenue service a year later.

The HSR line will run for 350km, with 335km in Malaysia and 15km in Singapore, and on two tracks going in opposite directions. It will comprise eight stops in total: Singapore, Iskandar Puteri, Batu Pahat, Muar, Ayer Keroh, Seremban, Putrajaya and KL.

Existing train services take up to 11 hours to journey between Singapore and KL. However, with the line able to reach top speeds of 300km/h, travel time between KL and Singapore is expected to drop to around 90 minutes – excluding clearance at customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ). There are, however, plans to co-locate CIQ checkpoints at Singapore, KL and Iskandar Puteri to facilitate “seamless travel”.

This means, for instance, that at the Jurong East terminus, one would be able to clear Singaporean immigration and a few steps later, Malaysian immigration before boarding the train, reaching KL and stepping out into the city centre itself.

Travel time for the HSR between Singapore and Iskandar Puteri in Johor Bahru is expected to take around 10 to 15 minutes.

Both governments agreed that each will take responsibility for developing, constructing and maintaining civil infrastructure and stations within their own countries – MyHSR Corporation for Malaysia and the Land Transport Authority for Singapore.

“COMPETITIVE” FARES

It was also announced that two train operating companies will be appointed to run the HSR service. An international operator will handle the express service between the Singapore terminus at Jurong East and the KL end at the upcoming Bandar Malaysia development. The same operator will also oversee a cross-border shuttle service between Singapore and Iskandar Puteri.

Another operator will run the domestic service within Malaysia. The express service will have scheduling and operational priority over a domestic line servicing the six stops in Malaysia between Singapore and KL.

The HSR trains are expected to be 10 cars long, with the capacity for up to 100 passengers per car.

Fare will be set commercially by the operators and “competitive with airfares”, said Singapore authorities.

A separate private entity will design, build, finance and maintain the trains as well as rail assets, like trackwork, communications, signalling and power. It will also allocate and control track access. Depots and maintenance facilities will be located in Malaysia.

The Singapore and Malaysian governments will build and fund infrastructure work such as viaducts, tunnels and stations within their territories. Both governments also agreed to form a bilateral committee comprising representatives from both sides to manage and regulate aspects of the project which might impact the cross-border services.

TENDER PROCESS WILL BE “FAIR AND TRANSPARENT”

Speaking at the signing of the MoU, PM Lee noted that the tender process is one issue that has to be discussed by Singapore and Malaysia. He said: “This is one of the items which has to be settled and has to be discussed between the two sides, to how the project is going to be structured, to how the tenders will be called, what’s the sequence in which they’re going to be called, what does each package consist of, and then how will the tenders be evaluated.”

Mr Najib said: “Because this project has attracted so much international interest, it is incumbent upon us to make sure that the process will be a very fair, transparent, objective process. But we are both committed to ensuring that this will happen because the image and integrity of both countries will be at stake. So you can be rest assured that the process will be carried out in the fairest possible way.”

Malaysia’s Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan said: “We are committed to making sure that this project comes to its conclusion. As far as I’m concerned, and as both Prime Ministers mentioned … it will be an open, transparent and fair tender process.”

He mentioned that he had personally seen several companies that had shown some interest, including companies from China, Japan and European countries.

Mr Abdul Rahman added that the pricing for trips on the HSR would be affected by the bids for the project even though it would likely be benchmarked against airfares. “I believe it will be market-driven.”

When asked about the cost-sharing arrangement between Singapore and Malaysia, Mr Abdul Rahman pointed out that much of the track will be in Malaysia, with more than 300km in Malaysia and about 15km in Singapore.

“But we’re not looking at the length, we’re looking at the cost. Of course, building 15km underground in Singapore would probably cost as much. So it will be an equitable, fair percentage for both countries,” he said. However, he added that he was not at at liberty to disclose the exact percentages until the bilateral agreement is concluded.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 19 Jul 2016

Development works for Round Island Route start end-2016

Development works for the Round Island Route (RIR) – a continuous 150km park connector that goes around the island – are set to begin by the end of 2016, the Land Transport Authority (LTA), National Parks Board (NParks) and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) announced on Saturday (Jul 9).

Works will start with the 60km-long Coastal Adventure Corridor, the first of three corridors for the RIR, which will connect 45km of existing park connectors. When completed, users will be able to cycle along the coasts of Punggol, Pasir Ris, Changi and East Coast Park to get to Gardens by the Bay from Lower Seletar Reservoir Park.

The corridor will serve Sengkang, Punggol, Pasir Ris and East Coast.

ROUND ISLAND ROUTE TO BE WIDER

The RIR will be 6m wide in most areas – wider than the 4m current park connectors have – with the aim of providing more space for people to walk and cycle, the authorities said.

It will also have more cycling bridges so that cyclists need not dismount long their journey. Amenities in the form of shelters, toilets, lookout points, bicycle parking lots and self-help bike repair facilities will also be present along it.

For example, a cycling bridge is planned at Sengkang Riverside Park to connect the eastern and western end. As part of the design for the bridge, the park will also feature a man-made island with wetland plantings for otters to build their holts, LTA, NParks and URA said.

MORE INTER-TOWN CYCLING ROUTES IN FUTURE

The Government is looking into providing more inter-town cycling routes to connect cyclists from their homes to the city, the authorities said. These connections will also provide cyclists a connection from the east to the west via the city centre.

Currently, plans are in place to construct Queenstown-City and Geylang-City routes.

“We have also identified some towns that are within a 30-minute cycling distance from the city such as Bishan, Hougang and Bukit Timah, and will be plugging gaps along the existing cycling routes to the city,” they said.

And as part of the North-South Corridor (NSC), LTA will provide a cycling corridor that connects estates in the area directly to the city.

“In particular, towns in the north such as Sembawang, Yishun and Ang Mo Kio will be linked to the dedicated cycling paths integrated with the NSC to provide a direct route for people to cycle from their homes to the city for work or play,” the authorities said.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 9 Jul 2016

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