SLA fact sheet: Then: army camps. Now: hostels
-- SLA sees demand from hostel tenants double, with over 35,000 sqm awarded in six months
1 There is a growing interest by hostel tenants to provide more student accommodation on State properties, and the latest attraction is former camps. Singapore Land Authority, which acts on behalf of the State to tenant former State properties for land optimization, has already awarded its second former army camp in six months for hostel use. The latest award went to E M Services over a 44,643 square metre (sqm) land area at prime Ulu Pandan camp. The property at 100 Ulu Pandan Road, with a land area of 44,643 square metres (sqm) and Gross Floor Area (GFA) of 6,382 sqm, is the third camp to be awarded since the sprucing up of the largest camp site at Tanglin Village (about 40 hectares), and the second camp to be used as hostel grounds in six months.
2 In 2007, of the 81 tenders launched by Singapore Land Authority (SLA) for various uses, one of its most tendered uses is that of hostels, which grew by more than double that in 2006. A total about 35,760 sqm in Gross Floor Area (GFA) were tenanted out in six months. SLA had earlier awarded the former Jalan Bahar camp site to another hostel tenant (Jian Yu Construction) which had started operations in July 2007. The demand is coming from catering to an increasing number of expatriate students studying here. On selected properties, there is also white-collar accommodation available for example at Tiong Bahru and Pearl’s Hill Terrace where there reside expatriate bankers and medical housemen respectively.
3 Former camp sites enjoy the appeal of spaciousness and lush greenery, as well as the greater ease of adapting from self-contained purpose-built units including kitchen and hostel retrofitting. They are tipping former schools to now emerge more popular choice sites to be transformed into hostels.
4 The average increase in the tendered rent per square metre is at market rent of about $8.50. Hostel tenants consider the location, the size and condition of the property, accessibility, amenities, and other comparatives.
5 The former camp at Ulu Pandan attracted an impressive seven bids at tender opening, with four other hostel tenants putting in bullish bids higher than the guide rental and other competing use such as foreign and commercial schools. E M Services Pte Ltd put in the top bid at a tendered monthly rent of $122,725, about 60 per cent more than the guide rental.
6 The property comprises 6 blocks of three storey buildings, 10 blocks of single-storey buildings and 4 single-storey open sheds and 1 block of sub-station building. The tenancy is renewable on terms up to 2017.
7 The property is conveniently located near Holland Village and is next to the main road with easy access to public transport. More strategically, it is near fine local and international educational institutions such as National University of Singapore, ER International School and three Japanese schools. Ulu Pandan is also known to have a growing number of expatriate residents at the nearby prime estates such as Pine Grove and Pandan Valley.
8 Mr Andy Low, Marketing Director, E M Services Pte Ltd said: "We chose this site at Ulu Pandan as it is set in a prime location nearby established tertiary institutions. We will be transforming the place into a full facility student hostel. In addition to providing safe, conducive living units for the students to stay, facilities such as gym, entertainment room, reading lounge, recreational facilities will be made available to meet the students’ leisure needs. We intend to invest about $5m into this site and we target it to be ready by June this year."
9 Elsewhere, SLA had recently awarded the former SCDF Camp at Jalan Bahar, also for students' hostel use, to Jian Yu Construction Pte Ltd. The property is the third largest camp, after Tanglin Village. It has an estimated land area of 56,631.4 sqm and a GFA of 29,343.3 sqm, with a monthly tendered rent of $77,000 per month for the site. Located near NTU, it has attracted NTU students who were otherwise not able to secure hostel units on campus. In addition to the former SCDF Camp at Jalan Bahar, Jian Yu Construction Pte Ltd has another SLA-leased property, at 201 Pearl’s Hill, for students' and white-collars' workers' hostel. Besides the captive market of PRC and asian students, there are a number of medical professionals and doctors who live there and save on transport and time of traveling to the nearby Singapore General Hospital where they work.
10 Mr Yang Tse Pin, Managing Director of Jian Yu Construction Pte Ltd said: "We chose the two State properties at 201 Pearl's Hill Terrace and Jalan Bahar because they are unique in a way that the units came retrofitted with a self-contained kitchen, toilet and living room, which offers privacy to the students. We liked the ease of adapting the properties and invested a total of about $11 million. Both sites are doing very well with more than half occupied. The occupancy rate for Pearl's Hill is 85 per cent while Jalan Bahar is 70 per cent."
11 SLA has also under its hostel sector wing, former school-turned-hostel properties at Katong Hostel (No 369 Katong Road), Vita Hostel (50 Carlisle Road), Pearl Hill Hostel (No 5 Pearl Hill Road) and Cambridge Hostel (No 155 Owen Road). Katong Hostel, Pearl Hill Hostel and Cambridge Hostel are under the Vita Group while Vita Hostel is under Vita Holdings. All the hostels are doing well, with occupancy at a high of 85 per cent. Ms Joyce Sim, Director of Vita Group said: "Our hostels have attracted students from private institutions and local schools. They are of different nationalities including Korea, Vietnam, Africa, and Myanmar to mention a few. We are looking into expanding our business on more State properties."
12 SLA’s Assistant Chief Executive, Mr Simon Ong (王汉龙, 助理局长, 土地咨询商业部), said: "Our former camps are spacious with lush greenery and ideal for various business needs. We have seen their transformation into an integrated hub like Tanglin Village, and now as hostels which are ideal residential enclaves for expatriates and students working and studying here. SLA is able to respond to business needs with the properties it offers, and provides a second home to these segments. With creativity, these heritage State assets have become state-of-the-art student hostels, creating new value and optimising precious land resources."
13 The latest property up for offer with one of the indicative uses as student hostel, is 95 Tampines Road. The estimated land area is 1,875.5 sqm and a GFA of 1109.0 sqm. The guide rental is $9,400 per month and the tenancy is till 2011. The offer on RentDirect closes on 5 Feb 2008. SLA has another camp site at the former Keat Hong camps, the second largest former camp sites (over 36,000 sqm) and SLA is still studying the various approved uses for the site.
14 For more information on these properties, please visit SLA’s State Property and Information Online (SPIO) web portal (https://app1.sla.gov.sg/spio), or call the SPIO hotline at 6323 9154.
Singapore Land Authority (SLA)