IN 2020, a 180m-tall Grade-A office building will replace the former CPF Building. The consortium redeveloping the property into a new 29-storey tower at 79 Robinson Road comprises urban solutions provider Ascendas-Singbridge Group and its Japanese joint-venture partners Mitsui & Co and Tokyo Tatemono Co. Ascendas-Singbridge will hold a 65% stake in the consortium, with Mitsui and Tokyo Tatemono holding the remainder.

The new building will have a gross floor area of about 618,000 sq ft and net lettable area (NLA) of about 500,000 sq ft. Of the 29 floors, 21 are expected to be for Grade-A office space with efficient floor plates of 21,000 sq ft to 23,000 sq ft, and environmentally friendly features.

79 Robinson RoadFour other levels have been allocated to parking, and retail will be on the first level. Retail space will account for about 25,000 sq ft, or about 5%, of NLA and will mainly be occupied by F&B outlets. There will be a “sky garden” on the 21st level, as well as a rooftop garden on the highest floor, with panoramic views of the city and the southern bay, says Manohar Khiatani, deputy group CEO of Ascendas-Singbridge. He was speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony held on March 3.

The property occupies a 47,050 sq ft site, which has a remaining lease of 52 years. The consortium is in the midst of applying for the lease to be topped up to 99 years. “We see value in this site, and our plan to redevelop the building is not conditional on whether we receive the lease top-up,” Khiatani says.

The cost of the redevelopment project is estimated at S$1 billion (RM3.14 billion), which includes the purchase price of S$550 million for the site, which Ascendas-Singbridge secured in a tender in November 2015.

The project at 79 Robinson Road is Ascendas-Singbridge’s maiden prime office development in Singapore, and the eighth prime commercial building in its portfolio. Elsewhere in Asia, the group has five commercial properties in Seoul and one each in Shanghai and Sydney. The commercial properties could be injected into a new commercial real estate investment trust in the future, Khiatani says.

The CBD office development is a natural extension of its business, science and tech parks. Khiatani says, “We have many customers in these [sectors]that may also need to have a presence in the CBD.”

Mitsui president and CEO Tatsuo Yasunaga says the company will leverage its global client network to attract key tenants for the new building, which will be designed by global design firm Gensler in collaboration with Singapore-based DCA Architects.

This article first appeared in The Edge Property Singapore, a pullout of The Edge Singapore, on March 13, 2017.

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