SINGAPORE – When Mrs Lee Qing Qing heard about plans for the collective sale of People’s Park Centre, she saw it as a good opportunity to retire.
The 68-year-old owner of two shops has been selling clothes and shoes at the mixed-use development in Chinatown since 1974.
“Of course, I feel sad and sentimental, but all good things must come to an end. It has been a good 48 years, but it is time for me to rest and enjoy my life,” Mrs Lee told The Straits Times at her shoe shop, Darling Shoes, last week.
“It is also time that the centre gets a new lease of life and attracts even more people, especially since fewer people have been visiting since the (Covid-19) pandemic.”
People’s Park Centre is up for collective sale by public tender with a reserve price of $1.8 billion, its marketing agency, ERA Realty Network, announced on July 6.
An attempt to sell the centre en bloc for $1.35 billion in 2019 failed as only about 30 per cent of owners consented to the move, said owners who spoke to ST.
To push through the collective sale of developments 10 years or older, consent of at least 80 per cent by share value and strata area from owners is needed.
ERA said the collective sale this time garnered 84 per cent of the owners’ signatures by strata area and 80 per cent by share value.
Mrs Lee said she thought the previous reserve price was too low as she bought her shoe shop, which comprises two units totalling 804 sq ft, for $1.7 million.
She declined to reveal how much she stands to receive if the development is sold, but added: “If I get to retire, I’ll pick up art and flower arrangement, and spend my time on things I like do to.”
Built in 1970, the commercial-cum-residential development sits on a 95,467 sq ft site, with a gross floor area of about 821,017 sq ft. It comprises a 13-storey block and a 30-storey block, and has 324 shops, 256 offices, 120 apartments and a carpark.
According to ERA, owners of shops ranging from 4 sq m to 596 sq m could receive sale proceeds of between $213,000 and $22.7 million, while those with offices of 21 sq m to 510 sq m could receive between $536,000 and $12.5 million.
Owners of apartments of 154 sq m to 224 sq m could receive between $2.39 million and $3.42 million, and with penthouses of 243 sq m to 392 sq m drawing between $3.42 million and $5.33 million.
Mr Rudy Jung, 43, who has been living in a 154 sq m unit with his father since the 1980s, said he agreed to the collective sale as his home faces several problems due to its age.
“It’s pretty rundown. There’s water leakage and the water pipes get stuck. I hope the proceeds can cover some costs of our next home,” the equipment engineer said, adding that he is looking to get a Housing Board flat.
“I hope the new developers maintain the structure of the building as it’s difficult to see such structures these days,” he added.
The owner of Kao Pink Shoes, Madam Tan Sor Ching, 57, said she voted for a collective sale as she plans to retire after two turbulent years, when her family business was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We’ve been through many ups and downs since the 1970s, but the worst hit was Covid-19. After restrictions eased in April, business has been back to pre-pandemic levels, but we have already set our minds on the attractive offer,” she said.
While most owners welcomed the latest collective sale attempt, others were apprehensive.
Retired businessman Sin Piah Ho, 72, was among those who were against the sale as he is reluctant to move out of his apartment, which overlooks the Central Business District.
“If they tear it down, where am I going to go? I have lived here for over 30 years. It would be troublesome to move, and besides, I’m old and can’t move around much,” he said.
Mr Sin added that he bought his 151 sq m home for about $120,000 and is worried that he would make a loss if the collective sale is successful.
People’s Park Centre is located near historical landmarks such as the police’s Upper Barracks on Pearl’s Hill and the Chinatown Heritage Centre, and shopping centres such as OG Building and Chinatown Point.
Mr Wong Xian Yang, head of research at Cushman & Wakefield, said there could be interest from larger players or consortiums with strong development expertise for mixed-use projects, given the size of the site.
“There is opportunity to build an iconic integrated development offering a mix of uses in the heart of Chinatown. It could also spur gentrification efforts in the area,” he said.
But a drawback for developers would be the high capital requirement due to its asking price, Mr Wong added.
Huttons Asia’s senior director of research Lee Sze Teck said: “For any site that costs more than $1 billion, the risk is much higher and developers will be more cautious.”
Mr Galven Tan, deputy managing director of investment sales and capital markets at Savills Singapore, said developers would likely tear down the building for redevelopment in the absence of conservation requirements.
“A complete redevelopment allows the developer full flexibility in planning and design,” he added.
If the deal is successful, property analysts said eyes are on the nearby People’s Park Complex – another major development in the area with potential for a sale en bloc. It is about 300m from People’s Park Centre.
The centre’s collective sale attempt comes after Golden Mile Complex was sold to a consortium for $700 million in May. The iconic building, which was completed in 1973, was gazetted for conservation by the Urban Redevelopment Authority last year.
Both People’s Park Centre and People’s Park Complex are currently not earmarked for conservation.
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