Far East buys 27 residential units in ex-AA Centre

Far East Organization, which acquired the first six levels of the former AA Centre in River Valley Road in 2013, is buying 27 of the 28 residential units on the upper floors of the freehold 14-storey building.

Far East is paying a total of S$124.10 million for the bulk purchase of the 27 units – 23 apartments and four penthouses. This works out an average price of S$2,574 per square foot based on the total strata area of about 48,222 sq ft.

Once the bulk sale of these 27 units has been completed, Far East will own all but one unit in the building at 336 River Valley Road.

The sale of the last apartment, a 1,582 sq ft unit, has not proceeded due to a technical issue, according to The Business Times.

Property agency Richmond Capital Investments is brokering the sale of the 27 units, with the deal concluded through private negotiations after the tender.

All 28 residential units, which are individually owned, occupy Levels 7 to 14.

In May this year, Richmond Capital launched the bulk sale of 22 of the residential units through a tender exercise. At the time, it indicated that approval for the sale of the remaining six units was pending, subject to the tender close.

The Automobile Association of Singapore (AAS) moved its headquarters from the premises to Kallang Bahru in November 2013.

That year, Far East paid AAS S$61.8 million or about S$1,112 psf, based on the 55,574 sq ft strata area for Levels 1 to 6.

Its offer was the highest among the five parties that had expressed interest in the space during that sale exercise, which was conducted in 2012; its price was also above independent valuations commissioned by the AAS, according to a media report at the time.

The AAS had sold the 28 residential units to finance the redevelopment of its headquarters in 1984.

The owners of the 28 units attempted a bulk sale in a separate exercise in 2012, asking for S$100 million or slightly over S$2,000 psf on strata area.

However their expectations were not met. None of the units were sold.

Far East is now using the first three levels in the building as offices. The fourth level serves as a recreation floor, with a swimming pool and a gymnasium. On the fifth and sixth levels are 32 serviced apartments, which are not being utilised.

The building is on a site of about 33,751 sq ft, which under the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Master Plan 2014, is zoned for residential use with 2.8 plot ratio (ratio of maximum gross floor area to land area) and a 10-storey maximum height.

The 14-storey building’s existing total gross floor area reflects a much higher plot ratio of about 3.78, according to an earlier article.

Far East Organization, helmed by Philip Ng, has no immediate plans for the property and intends to hold it for long-term investment.

Market watchers suggest that in the short term, the group could spruce up the 27 apartments it is buying, along with the 32 serviced apartments it acquired earlier, and lease them out.

Far East also owns the 70,637 sq ft freehold site next door, which currently houses a sales gallery showcasing some of the group’s projects.

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