‘We want to be a niche player’

Developer wants to build luxury homes and hotels across Asia and Europe

FOLLOWING the launch of The Hamilton Scotts on Scotts Road, its developer Hayden Properties is now setting its sights on the region and beyond to develop and build similar ultra-luxurious homes.

Hayden has an interesting mix of owners. It is 50-per-cent owned by KOP Capital, founded by 39-year-old lawyer Ong Chih Ching and Leny Suparman, 33, who came from property consultancy CB Richard Ellis (Singapore). The other half is owned by Emirates Tarian Capital (ETC) of the United Arab Emirates.

Together, they plan to go overseas to develop hotels and resorts in Europe and Asia, according to KOP.

Both companies are already talking to potential investors and parties on acquiring land and developing properties overseas. Their interest lies in places such as Bali, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Japan, Vietnam, India and China.

KOP Capital, previously known as KOP Management Services and which sprung from the law firm of Koh Ong and Partners (KOP, get it?), is already familiar with overseas projects. The firm has been involved with the development of several luxury hotels and resorts in China.

And the two companies have got ultra-rich partners to support their expensive projects, both here and overseas. Its partner in Hayden, ETC, is a subsidiary boutique investment company of the Emirates Investment Group, whose real estate investments include Emirates International Holdings, Palazzo Versace Gold Coast in Australia, Palazzo Versace Dubai, D1 Residential Tower, Emirates Financial Towers, Karachi Financial Towers and White Bay.

In April, KOP sold a 51-per-cent stake in the company to the Dubai Investment Group, which is part of the business empire of Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Al Maktoum, whose diversified portfolio is valued at over US$7 billion ($9.45 billion).

“Hayden will concentrate on high end luxury properties, while KOP will go into opportunistic investments,” said Ms Ong, who has had 12 years of practice in corporate and property law, and who was a founder of the Singapore Investors Association of Singapore (Sias).

“We want to be a niche player in the high end lifestyle sector where there’s a lacuna (gap) in the market. There are lots of products created without much understanding of the life-style buyers want,” she said.

For instance when Hayden bought the Hamilton site, it did not at first think of putting up a luxury apartment block, instead it was looking at various other things like a serviced apartment which previous owner CapitaLand had planned for, or a hotel.

“But after talking to some people, we decided that what was needed was something iconic.

“The architects Eco-id came up with an innovative and daring design by giving apartment owners the comfort of parking their marques right by their residences, regardless of which level they are in,”Ms Ong said adding that they had to overcome various issues, including fire-safety compliance, et cetera.

Response to the launch of the 30-storey block scheduled for completion in 2011 was “very encouraging” the two said. “Although our launch party was scheduled for 8pm, people were already streaming in at 4pm, and we had more than 400 people turning up with all 500 kits that we had printed snapped up,” Ms Suparman said.

The two partners also disclosed that they received “no less than three offers” to purchase the entire project from parties from Russia, the Middle East and China.

“These people were looking for iconic developments and saw the Hamilton as an entry into the region’s property market. We didn’t mind selling them a chunk of the project but parting with the entire building would have made us appear desperate and looking like we were just in it for the punt,” she added.

Hayden has so far sold about a half dozen of the 56 units at an average price of $3,800 per sq ft or over $10 millionfor a 2,700 sq ft apartment, which doesnot include the 600 sq ft allotted for two cars.

The company has also tied up with the Ritz Carlton on a $300-million project in Cairnhill Road (Ritz-Carlton Residences) which will feature a 24-hour concierge service, housekeeping, sommelier service, and three sky terraces where residents can entertain, exercise or just lounge around.

The cheapest 2,800 sq ft apartment is expected to fetch at least $11.5 million while a junior penthouse of about 3,500 sq ft will cost about $18 million. Monthly maintenance will come to at least $2,500, the most expensive in Singapore.

Source : Today – 17 Jul 2008

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