New Hub Synergy Point emerges, spruces up Anson office locale

Citi Commercial Pte Ltd

AMID the current tight office supply, a new office tower has been completed at the corner of Anson Road and Enggor Street in an old part of the central business district (CBD).

Developed by 72-year-old Ho Kian Cheong, a member of the Ho family of Keck Seng Group, the Hub Synergy Point received Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) in August this year. Unlike most developers of office buildings, Ho began leasing only after TOP was obtained.

The project has 27 storeys; there is also, on the roof, retail space and a garden.

The first office tenant, global chemical and speciality materials group Celanese, signed up last month (September 2022) for a 7,300 sq ft floor above the 20th level with pockets of sea views.

The US-based group is currently in the neighbouring Mapletree Anson, on the 13th floor. Celanese is a major global producer of acetyl products and high performance engineered polymers.

Hub Synergy (S), Ho’s wholly-owned vehicle that owns Hub Synergy Point, is targeting gross effective monthly rentals of S$9-11 per square foot for the building’s 118,000 sq ft net lettable area (NLA) of office space. The development’s 19 office floors come in two floor-plate sizes: about 3,900 sq ft on levels 7 to 12, and 7,300 sq ft on levels 13-25.

The freehold project is on a site area of 13,051 sq ft. “We decided to keep to a maximum of just two units per office floor,” says Ho’s eldest son, Sydney, who is also a director at the company. “Ours is a boutique office project catering to SMEs as well as MNCs with small regional offices. If these occupiers were to go to a typical CBD Grade A office building with larger floor plates of 20,000 sq ft or more, they would have to share the floor with many co-tenants.

“But in our case, even if you require a space of slightly over 1,000 sq ft, you would be sharing your floor with at most one other tenant. This gives such tenants greater privacy, exclusivity.”

To cater to occupiers requiring a larger area, knock-out panels have been incorporated from levels 14 to 25 for those that wish to create interconnected staircases linking contiguous office floors, he added.

Flex workspace feature

A staircase has been built between levels 18 and 19; the two floors will house the project’s flexible workspace offering (comprising serviced offices and co-working space). “We’ll operate the flex space ourselves, to be in a better position to cater to our tenants’ dynamic space requirements. So if a tenant requires additional space for a short-term project or has staff from overseas offices stationed in Singapore for a few weeks, it could lease some of our flex space.

“We provide meeting rooms and conference facilities that our tenants may use for a reasonable fee, thus giving them the option of not making provisions for such space within their leased premises,” said Ho.

Pockets of work spaces will also be offered at the sky terrace on level 6, which also has a garden and an outdoor events area fitted with a media wall.

In addition to the retail unit on the roof, there are four other retail units approved for food and beverage use on level 1. The total retail NLA of the five units is about 4,000 sq ft and the target rent is S$13 psf a month.

Cushman & Wakefield is the exclusive marketing agent for the project, which is about 300 metres from Tanjong Pagar MRT station. The future Prince Edward station will be a stone’s throw away.

Hub Synergy Point retains the name of the former building on the site that was pulled down in 2018.

The project will contribute to the gentrification of the Anson locale. Upcoming neighbouring redevelopments include those on the former Fuji Xerox Towers, Keppel Towers and Tower 15 sites.

The new Hub Synergy Point’s total gross floor area of 157,940 sq ft is just 3.3 per cent or 5,027 sq ft more than that of the former building.

The old building had been built in 1973 by Chinese-Indonesian businessman Tong Djoe. He later sold it but had retained the top two levels for his own use. The majority of the building changed hands several times over the decades. It was once part of the failed Carrian Group. In the 1980s, its ownership was passed on to Japanese developer Yamasin, which refurbished and renamed the property Apex Tower before selling it to a Salim Group-controlled party.

Around the mid-1990s, Salim Group’s KMP sold the property to the Ho family. In 2015, Ho Kian Cheong acquired the top three floors and gained full ownership of the property. He pumped in about S$70 million to build the recently completed tower; the sum is inclusive of professional fees and property tax. Said Sydney Ho: “We had plans to pre-lease the new project, but unfortunately, we were hit by the full force of the Covid-19 restrictions. With intermittent work stoppages and other compliance requirements, we had no clear sight of exactly when the project would be ready for occupation. So we decided to hold back marketing of the property.”

That could well turn out to be a blessing in disguise, given the ongoing recovery in Singapore office rentals on the back of tight supply.

Last week, CBRE said that strong positive office net absorption in the third quarter of this year took the islandwide cumulative net demand for the first quarter to Q3 of this year to 558,000 sq ft, vis-a-vis 316,000 sq ft for the whole of 2021.

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