Wednesday, 11 April 2012

RIX visits Singapore

Your reporter on the Marina Promenade (photo: GD)
Hello, my name is RIX and I am a real estate tortoise with many, many years experience in international property, principally in appraisal and valuation. Over my lifetime I have worked for most of the major surveying companies but now that I am very advanced in years, I find myself wanting to pass some of my knowledge onto younger folk in the profession. To that end, I also work for the Department of Real Estate and Construction at Oxford Brookes as an Associate Tortoise. I travel the world very slowly and report on interesting real estate for this blog. This role is made easier since I carry my own real estate with me.

This report comes from Singapore, one of the so-called asian tigers where I visited some very exciting real estate in the marina bay area, which is being developed to support and extend Singapore's business and leisure functions.

Marina Bay Sands development - Skypark is on top (photo: GD)
Marina Bay Sands is a mixed use development, completed in 2011. It was developed and is owned by Las Vegas Sands. The photo on the right shows the three hotel towers with the 'Skypark' spanning across them on top at some 200m. Underneath this is the shopping mall and other development. This includes: the largest standalone casino in the world with 500 tables and 1,600 slot machines; a 2561 room hotel; a 130,000,000 sqft (120,000m2) convention-exhibition centre;  a shopping mall of 800,000 sq ft (74,000 m2); a museum, two large theatren; seven restaurants and an ice skating rink. The 340m SkyPark on top has a capacity of 3,900 people and a 150m infinity swimming pool.

Your reporter carried out some of the development appraisal from the viewing deck which is the area that overhangs the north tower by 67m - you can see this in the photo above. It's not for the faint hearted and that's not just because the drinks are very expensive. However, as you can see from the photo below, the view is quite something.

View from the Skypark deck (photo: GD
The white 'lotus petal' shaped building in the foreground is the arts and science museum, where your reporter sheltered during a thunderstorm and took in a very interesting Andy Warhol exhibition. The two pod shaped buildings that you might be able to make out in the distance make up the Durian building, which is a theatre and concert hall shaped like the two halves of a smelly Durian fruit. Sometimes I wonder about architects. I was also wondering about the floating football (or is it soccer) pitch? What happens when the ball goes out of play?

Skypark Infinity swimming pool - for guests only! (photo: GD)
Anyway to get back to the property, the Skypark has a restaurant and bars but its main attraction, apart from the views, is the infinity swimming pool and sunbathing area. Unfortunately, the pool is for guests only and also off limits to small reptiles like myself. You might just be able to make the pool out in the photo right.

The development was conceived before the crash of 2008 and spiralling costs and lack of labour set back its completion. The final build costs, including land are said to be over £3.5 billion. The casino and hotel form the main revenue streams. A hypothetical full occupancy of the 2561 hotel rooms, at an average of £200 per night would bring in just over half a million pounds a day, so it will take a long time to payback. However, the overall premise of this development is the creation of an integrated tourism resort that serves business and visitors and results in other spend in shopping, restaurants and makes Singapore a must-see destination.

Nighttime shot of the development (photo: GD)

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