UOL to redevelop 30-yr-old Somerset building
Units in new project to combine office facilities with service apartment
31 Mar 05
By KALPANA RASHIWALA
THE rejuvenation of ageing properties in the Orchard Road belt continues apace. This time, United Overseas Land is tearing down its 30-year-old UOL Building at Somerset Road and redeveloping it into a project offering units that combine an office and a service apartment.
Pioneer: The project will be the first to offer "live-and-work" concept in Orchard area
It will be like the small-office, home-office (SoHo) concept except that the units also come with services like housekeeping and laundry.
This will make it the first project offering the 'live-and-work' concept in the Orchard Road area.
UOL will hold the 128 units for lease when the 16-storey freehold project next to Somerset MRT Station is completed by October 2007.
This will be the group's flagship building for its executive suite/service apartment business.
Currently, the group has only one service apartment property, Plaza Pacific Serviced Apartments above Plaza Parkroyal Hotel in Beach Road.
It hopes to rebrand this business and is also looking to start a chain of SoHo-style service apartments in Singapore and the region.
BT understands that UOL may also include such units - a small number, though - for its project on the Kim Tian Plaza site in Tiong Bahru. However, they are likely to be for sale.
As for the UOL Building redevelopment, UOL will incur about $27 million in construction costs.
Kajima Overseas has been appointed the main contractor.
CPG Consultants is the architect and an Italian designer, Marco Corti of Colombo Associates, will do the interior.
UOL is expected to target expatriates who are here for consultancy work or to start up businesses and who want to live and work in the same place.
This way, they do not need to rent separate offices and apartments.
The new development will have the same plot ratio (ratio of potential gross floor area to land area) as the existing UOL Building, which comprises mainly offices.
However, it still makes sense for UOL to redevelop the project into SoHo-styled service apartments, say market watchers.
This is because the UOL Building is no longer competitive in the office market as it has small floor plates (making usage inefficient) and most of the units have low ceilings.
And redeveloping the property into a pure office project may not do the trick either, as the centre of gravity in the Singapore office market is shifting to the New Downtown area.
The project's 128 units will comprise a mix of studio, one and two-bedroom units, ranging from 42 square metres to 120 sq m.
UOL Building's tenants, including Expressions International, the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS) and Checker's Cafe, are moving out by today, ahead of the building's demolition slated for next month.
Expressions is headed for MacDonald House. Checker's Cafe, located on the ground floor, is moving to Yess Leisure, opposite Temasek Tower in Shenton Way.
MDIS is relocating to its UniCampus at Stirling Road in Queenstown.
The existing building is also 16 storeys high, comprising a seven-storey podium and a nine-storey tower block.