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Old June 5th, 2006, 01:03 PM   #1
Charging Bull
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[COMPLETED] Orchard Gateway (Former Specialist Shopping Centre) | 11 + 20 floors

The ageing Specialists' Shopping Centre along Orchard Road could finally make way for a new project under proposals to redevelop the site together with the former Glutton's Square plot next door, say sources.
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Old June 5th, 2006, 01:08 PM   #2
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Business Times - 05 Jun 2006

Specialists' Centre to finally go?


Clearer picture seen emerging after award of Somerset Central site

By RASHIWALA

KALPANA (SINGAPORE) The ageing Specialists' Shopping Centre along Orchard Road could finally make way for a new project under proposals to redevelop the site together with the former Glutton's Square plot next door, say sources.

BT understands that the proposals are still being discussed between OCBC Bank, which owns Specialists' Centre and Hotel Phoenix behind it, and Far East Organization, which clinched the former Glutton's Square site at a state tender in January.

'One possibility is OCBC could just contribute its Specialists' site into a joint venture that could develop this site together with Glutton's Square without having to put any cash for the construction. In exchange, the bank gets to hold a stake in the enlarged redevelopment scheme equivalent to the value of its site,' said a market observer.

Originally, OCBC had been talking about a need to merely refurbish Specialists' Centre - which is more than 30 years old - in conjunction with new developments at adjacent plots. Such an approach is favoured by some quarters in the bank who have some sentimental attachment to Specialists' Centre, BT understands. As well, a redevelopment scheme would at best see retention rather than an enhancement of the building's existing gross floor area going by current guidelines - which somewhat reduces the incentive to redevelop.

However, sources say that given that Specialists' Centre is more than 30 years old, its layout and efficiency (ratio of net lettable area to gross floor area) are dated, so it would still make sense to redevelop.

Discussions between Far East and OCBC are likely to be finalised only after the award of another state site, dubbed Somerset Central, on the other side of Specialists' Centre. Part of this site, which is above Somerset MRT Station, is currently being used as a carpark. The tender for Somerset Central closes on Aug 16.

Far East is widely thought to have triggered the release of the Somerset Central plot, which was in the government's reserve list. However, it remains to be seen if it succeeds in clinching the 78,700 sq ft site when the state tender closes in about two months.

If it does, then the latest site will be included in a bigger redevelopment. If, however, another party clinches the plot, it remains to be seen how this affects an OCBC-Far East collaboration on their respective existing sites.

It also remains to be seen if OCBC and Far East agree on including Hotel Phoenix, which faces Somerset Road, in a redevelopment involving Specialists' Centre or if OCBC has to leave Hotel Phoenix standing and refurbish it separately.

Hotel Phoenix is safeguarded for hotel use by the authorities, which means that even if OCBC contributes the property for joint redevelopment with Specialists' Centre and the Glutton's Square site, it has to remain a hotel.

Some market watchers have also been speculating lately whether Far East will team up with Frasers Centrepoint to bid for the Somerest Central site given their recent successful partnership in clinching the Waterfront View residential site in Bedok.

OCBC holds an indirect interest of under 10 per cent in Frasers Centrepoint through the latter's listed parent, Fraser & Neave.

If Far East and Frasers Centrepoint team up again and win the Somerset Central site, it could make for an appropriate partnership involving OCBC, Frasers Centrepoint and Far East for the development of Glutton's Square, Somerset Central and Specialists' Centre - with or without Hotel Phoenix.

This will result in a sizeable retail project boasting prime linear frontage on Orchard Road and with an underground mall linked to Centrepoint Shopping Centre across the road.

A redevelopment of all three sites including Hotel Phoenix can yield a new project with a maximum gross floor area of about 1.3 million square feet based on current guidelines.

However, the developers may even be able to win rights for additional gross floor area from the Urban Redevelopment Authority under an incentive scheme to spur redevelopments on Orchard Road, say property analysts.

Retail market watchers say, however, that the completion of a new project may clash with the opening of Marina Bay Sands in 2009 which is expected to feature about one million sq ft of retail space and boast big new names like Saks Fifth Avenue.

Viewing things more positively, a retail market player says: 'While the jury is out on whether Marina Bay Sands integrated resort will overshadow Orchard Road as Singapore's prime tourist belt, it makes it all the more urgent for owners of ageing Orchard Road buildings like Specialists' Centre to wake up and do something - fast.'

Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Old June 5th, 2006, 01:20 PM   #3
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The awful Orchard Shopping Centre (beside the new Somerset Central plot)should go as well
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Old June 5th, 2006, 01:25 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charging Bull
The awful Orchard Shopping Centre (beside the new Somerset Central plot)should go as well
Yeah they should combined into a megamall.....
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Old June 5th, 2006, 01:59 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by babystan03
Yeah they should combined into a megamall.....
and with skybridges flying above the roads? if URA approves that, IT WILL BE GREAT! =D a new shopping experience like Change alley? something different from ngee ann or paragon will be great
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Old June 5th, 2006, 02:07 PM   #6
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Anything is possible now......since they've not come up with the final design.....
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Old June 6th, 2006, 05:11 PM   #7
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I also don't like either Specialist and Orchard Shopping Centre... And they eat up all the pedestrian space which is quite narrow on both sides of the road at this place. I don't mind Hotel Phoenix (their logo is cool ^ ^ ). I think it's a good idea to redevelop the whole area ;-)
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Old July 2nd, 2006, 09:21 AM   #8
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Orchard Shopping Centre is pathetic. And it carries 'Orchard' name.
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Old September 28th, 2006, 03:35 AM   #9
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20-storey block for Specialists' Centre site

28 Sep 06

Tange Associates' design exceeds URA height limit; special approval sought


(SINGAPORE) OCBC is poised to make a decision soon on redeveloping the ageing Specialists' Shopping Centre in Orchard Road, sources say - a move that will complete the rejuvenation of the area immediately around Somerset MRT Station.


Sources say retail tenants in the building - including Robinson group, which operates a John Little store - have been told to get ready to pack up by the middle of next year, as the bank prepares for various options, including complete redevelopment.

BT understands that OCBC has commissioned renowned architectural firm Tange Associates, which has come up with a design for a new project rising about 20 storeys on the Specialists' Centre site and Hotel Phoenix plot behind it.

The tower, which is said to front Orchard Road and which will house hotel rooms, will stand above a retail podium, sources say.

BT understands it will be business as usual for Specialists' Centre anchor tenant John Little, as operator Robinson group has made plans to move the outlet diagonally across the road to the former OG store's location. The retailer will lease the space from OG group's Tay family.

Some of the smaller tenants at Specialists' Centre are also scurrying to nearby locations. Some plan to move to Orchard Plaza, which is undergoing a $6 million refurbishment. The tired-looking building will get a new facade and an internal make-over including new escalators, lighting and fancy toilets

Far East Organization, the original developer, retains some shop units in Orchard Plaza's retail podium, giving it about 27 per cent of share value in the building.

Observers note that Tange Associates' proposed design for the freehold Specialists' Centre/Hotel Phoenix site exceeds both the 16-storey height limit the Urban Redevelopment Authority has set for the area, as well as the maximum plot ratio - ratio of potential gross floor area to land area - allowed for the site.

However, the proposal stands a chance of being approved by URA if it receives a recommendation from the Orchard Road Development Commission (Ordec) - an inter-government agency group set up last year that has been empowered to allow new projects that deviate from current planning parameters.

But to be deemed worthy of Ordec's recommendation, proposals must create new, innovative buildings that will generate tourism and other economic spin-offs.

At 20 storeys, the proposed development will tower over neighbouring buildings planned on either side of the Specialists' Centre. Far East Organization is developing a 10-storey mall on the former Glutton's Square site, while Lend Lease is expected to build a mall up to six storeys high on the Somerset Central plot.

Industry observers reckon OCBC's proposed redevelopment scheme probably also involves a much higher plot ratio than the maximum 5.39 allowed for the site - inclusive of bonus plot ratio for proximity to MRT Station - under Master Plan 2003 or the estimated 6.62 already tapped based on Specialists' Centre/Hotel Phoenix's existing GFA.

Property consultants say in such instances, URA would normally allow a new project to retain the existing GFA (based on 6.62 plot ratio in this case) even if it exceeds that allowed under the Master Plan. But BT understands Tange's scheme involves an even higher plot ratio - possibly of around 9.0.

The scheme assumes the bank will tear down both Specialists' Centre and Hotel Phoenix and develop a new mall and hotel project on the site. The Hotel Phoenix site is safeguarded for hotel use by URA, which means any new project on the site must have a hotel component.

However, OCBC's plans are not cast in stone, sources suggest. 'If for instance, URA turns down Tange's scheme, the bank may decide to retain the hotel at the back and just do a massive refurbishment,' an industry observer said.

OCBC spokeswoman Koh Ching Ching said yesterday: 'We are certainly keen to consider all mutually beneficial possibilities which will help to strengthen Orchard Road's appeal as a major retail, commercial and entertainment belt.

'For our part, OCBC Bank intends to hold on to the Specialists' Shopping Centre and Hotel Phoenix property for long-term investment. The property is in need of refurbishment and it may be appropriate to do so in conjunction with the new developments at the adjacent plots.'

By KALPANA RASHIWALA
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Old September 28th, 2006, 03:18 PM   #10
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OCBC probably needs to pay a some more for additional GFA.

20 floors is not that high. If the business proposal is good, URA will agree.
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Old October 1st, 2006, 03:48 PM   #11
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I think the height restriction could be the proximity of Istana, but I'm sure the building could be designed in a way to avoid facing directly at it.

The Scotts redevelopment initially had a height cap of 30-storeys, but its now proceeding at 43.
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Old December 6th, 2006, 01:28 PM   #12
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Seems like the plan to redevelop Specialist Centre will come true afterall...

Business Times - 06 Dec 2006

Robinson bags River Island's franchise for S'pore, M'sia

First outlets to open in VivoCity and Raffles City

ROBINSON has clinched the exclusive rights to market British fashion label River Island, as BT had reported earlier. The rights cover Singapore and Malaysia, the listed blue-chip retailer announced yesterday.

The first River Island outlet here, a more than 10,000-square-feet store, will open at VivoCity at the end of next month, with the second outlet of about 6,500 sq ft slated to open in Raffles City in May next year.

Robinson CEO John Cheston says the group plans to set up two or three River Island outlets in Malaysia by the end of next year. The target number of River Island stores in the next two to five years is about four or five stores in Singapore and probably four in Kuala Lumpur. Price points for the brand in both markets will be as close to parity with the UK as possible. 'Prices may be a little higher, but not significantly so,' he added.

BT's story in late September which reported the group clinching the River Island franchise had also said that Robinson is aiming to extend its Marks & Spencer (M&S) business and is expected to be awarded new franchise rights soon for Vietnam. 'But the icing on the cake could come later, if it succeeds in convincing UK-based Marks & Spencer plc to give it the franchise rights for at least part of the vast China market,' BT had reported then.

When asked yesterday about the M&S expansion plans in the two new markets, Mr Cheston said he had no update to give at this point.

In a news release issued yesterday, Mr Cheston said: 'The addition of River Island brings our portfolio of retail entities to six, which is double what we started with when we entered 2006.' The other five retail entities currently under Robinson's belt are Robinsons, John Little, Marks & Spencer, Principles and Trucco.

River Island, which is aimed at the 18-to-35-year-old market, will complement Robinson's existing retail businesses and further strengthen its foothold in the Singapore and Malaysia retail markets, Mr Cheston added.

River Island managing director Richard Bradbury said his company has found in Robinson a 'strong strategic partner that can support our expansion plans in Asia'. Founded 55 years ago, River Island currently has 210 stores in the UK and Ireland and 25 stores across the world. An 80-strong design team creates and designs all River Island products in-house, and the brand's success and popularity have been recognised in numerous high-profile consumer and industry awards.

Robinson will open a 100,000-sq-ft Robinsons store at Mid-Valley Gardens in Kuala Lumpur by September next year. It will also operate a Marks & Spencer outlet at the same mall.

In Singapore, the Robinsons flagship outlet at Centrepoint mall in Orchard Road will be expanded by an additional 30,000 sq ft that the retailer is taking up in the recently completed extension wing. And it will relocate its John Little operations from Specialists' Shopping Centre to the former OG store diagonally across the road around May/June next year. Specialists' Shopping Centre will be redeveloped by its owner OCBC.

Asked for an update on Robinson's boardroom, Mr Cheston said: 'We are making good progress on the recruitment of new directors and expect to make an announcement either at the end of December or in early January, in line with the three-month deadline we have.' He reiterated his plan is to have three or four independent directors.

Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Old December 6th, 2006, 02:38 PM   #13
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If Specialist was demolished, what will happen to the hotel?
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Old December 6th, 2006, 02:42 PM   #14
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Quote:
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If Specialist was demolished, what will happen to the hotel?
It'll be redeveloped together.....
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Old December 8th, 2006, 03:56 AM   #15
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hey u forgot about the emerald shopping centre and eye-sore OG store which struggles to pull in kiasu aunties and ah pek..
they have to go as well..they look so shabby besides glamorous STB Tourist centre ...


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It'll be redeveloped together.....
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Old December 8th, 2006, 05:12 AM   #16
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hey u forgot about the emerald shopping centre and eye-sore OG store which struggles to pull in kiasu aunties and ah pek..
they have to go as well..they look so shabby besides glamorous STB Tourist centre ...

OG won't go so soon since John Little is using it when Specialist Centre redevelop.....perhaps OG and Emerald can combined into a megamall next time....
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Old February 28th, 2007, 02:43 AM   #17
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Hurdles for Specialists' Centre redevelopment?

28 Feb 07

Tange design yet to get official approval: sources



(SINGAPORE) Tenants at Specialists' Shopping Centre and Hotel Phoenix are getting ready to move out around the middle of this year, but it remains to be seen how soon owner OCBC will start redeveloping the site, market watchers say.

For one thing, BT understands that Tange Associates' proposed 20-storey design for a new hotel and mall project on the existing Specialists' Centre/Hotel Phoenix freehold site is still pending approval from the Orchard Road Development Commission (Ordec).

The inter-government agency group's nod is required as the proposed scheme exceeds both the 16-storey height limit and the maximum plot ratio allowed for the site.

In addition, amended banking regulations effectively bar OCBC from redeveloping Specialists' Centre/Hotel Phoenix, say market watchers. The Banking (Amendment) Regulations 2004, which cover prescribed property-related businesses, allow property enhancement works in relation to a building which do not amount to demolition or reconstruction of the building, and which do not vary the gross floor area of the building by more than 20 per cent.

'Clearly, any proposal to redevelop Specialists' Centre involves tearing down the existing building and redeveloping the site, let alone the fact that the Tange Associates' design involves a plot ratio said to be more than 20 per cent higher than the 6.62 based on Specialists' Centre/Hotel Phoenix's existing gross floor area,' said a market watcher.

'On the other hand, if OCBC were to merely refurbish or retrofit the property, that would be fine, going by the banking regulations. But this would not maximise efficiency given that the building is over 30 years old and its layout and efficiency (ratio of net lettable area to gross floor area) are dated,' he added. An industry player suggested that OCBC should consider teaming up with Far East Organization and Australia's Lend Lease group, which are developing separate mall projects on each side of Specialists' Centre.

OCBC has already taken a 10 per cent stake in the Far East project. Perhaps the bank could consider selling Far East a lease for the Specialists' Centre/Hotel Phoenix site, and Far East could then plough money for its redevelopment and even give OCBC a cut of the yield from managing the asset later, some analysts speculate.

'That way, OCBC can still continue to own the freehold land on which the redevelopment takes place if there are quarters in the bank who feel the bank should not let go of such a prime property,' added the industry player.

Another observer said that it also makes sense for OCBC to invite Lend Lease to participate in the redevelopment project - after all, they are famous for both project management and retail management. 'It would be in the best interests of all three stakeholders - Far East, OCBC and Lend Lease - to work hand-in-glove, ensuring connectivity for the three projects and turning them into a strong enough magnet to rival CapitaLand and Sun Hung Kai's Orchard Turn mall one MRT stop away,' he added.

Lend Lease's mall could be about five to six storeys above ground and possibly include three to four basement levels with about 300,000 square feet of net lettable area in total. Far East's Orchard Central mall, slated to be ready in late 2008, will be 10 storeys high with two basement levels, adding up to about 390,000 sq ft of gross floor area.

When contacted yesterday, OCBC reiterated that it intends to hold on to the Specialists' Centre/Hotel Phoenix property for long-term investment, but declined to elaborate further.


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Old March 3rd, 2007, 01:36 AM   #18
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I hope OCBC release the redevelopment details soon......

March 2, 2007
John Little leaves Specialists' Centre
It will open a branch across the road and relocate its flagship to an outlet in Marina Square

By May Yip

ORCHARD Road veteran John Little will move out of Specialists' Shopping Centre late next month after more than 20 years.

Set up by British owners in 1842 and bought over by the home-grown Robinson retail group in 1955, its 44,000 sq ft flagship has occupied four levels of the seven-floor building since the 1980s.

Tenants of Specialists' Centre, as well as the adjacent Hotel Phoenix, were told last year that they had to move as the building will be redeveloped by owner OCBC.

John Little will open a branch across the road in May in Orchard OG Building, where department store OG used to operate and which now houses bargain retailer Urban Warehouse.

John Little will lease the 30,000 sq ft space from the OG group.

The store will relocate its flagship to a 40,000 sq ft outlet, formerly occupied by Giant supermarket, in Marina Square in June. Giant moved out in January this year.

On the move from Specialists' Centre, a spokesman for John Little told Life! yesterday: 'It feels almost like the end of an era, so the decision (to move) is tinged with some sadness.

'However, Specialists' Centre is an old building and we are looking forward to an exciting future in our new stores in Orchard Road and Marina Square.'

Besides John Little, the Robinson group also owns Robinsons department store, Spanish boutique Trucco and British brands Marks & Spencer, River Island and Principles.

Last year, John Little closed its stores in Compass Point and Whitesands.

The store synonymous with bargain buys also plans to close its Plaza Singapura outlet in the second half of this financial year, The Business Times reported last month.

It now has branches in Causeway Point, Jurong Point and Northpoint malls.

Property consultants are upbeat about John Little's new locations. 'It will be able to increase its visibility at street level along a busy stretch and it's a stone's throw away from where it is now,' says Mr Nicholas Mak of the Orchard OG Building location.

The director of research and consultancy at property consultancy Knight Frank adds that the area surrounding Marina Square will have 'great potential' once the integrated resorts are open.

Additional reporting by Shaan Seth

mayyip@sph.com.sg

Copyright © 2007 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.
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Old March 3rd, 2007, 05:39 AM   #19
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Is the hotel owned and operated by OCBC?
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Old May 5th, 2007, 05:49 PM   #20
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yes and yes.
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