Straits Times - FEBRUARY 09, 2013
With its gleaming glass and steel facade, Mapletree Business City (MBC) looks like it would be more at home downtown than at its suburban location.
The $766 million project at the junction of Alexandra and Pasir Panjang roads boasts amenities such as a heated, outdoor lap pool, a 300-seat auditorium, an air-conditioned food court and a childcare centre.
Completed in 2010, it has brought new vitality to an area dominated by warehouses and light industrial businesses that support the nearby port.
MBC's neighbours include PSA Building and The Comtech, as well as light industrial developments for end-users like Harbour Link Warehouse, Century Warehouse and Singapore Storage.
Analysts said the area could become the next commercial hub as projects get more sophisticated.
MBC, which took 26 months to build, has a net lettable area of 1.7 million sq ft. Three blocks of business park space account for nearly 1.3 million sq ft; office space in one 18-storey block makes up the rest.
The rents at MBC are higher than those at its neighbours. Office space rents for $6.60 to $6.80 psf a month while business park space goes for around $6 to $6.50 psf.
In contrast, rents at nearby Alexandra Technopark, a high-tech business park completed in the 1990s, average $3.70 to $5 psf.
"The growing cluster of multinational corporations taking up office and business park space in the locality will boost the profile of the area, further promoting business vibrancy with the entry of more established enterprises," said Knight Frank senior manager Alice Tan.
"This could lead to the enhancement of property values in the area."
Consumer goods conglomerate Unilever has its regional headquarters at MBC. Other major tenants include tech firms such as Samsung, Hewlett-Packard and business software provider SAP.
Also, international banks HSBC and Deutsche Bank have back-office operations at MBC.
"More companies are finding it attractive to expand or relocate at a location away from the Central Business District, which will translate into more sustainable rents over the long term," said Mr Michael Tay, the director of office services at CBRE.
"Future developments in the area such as MBC Phase 2 will certainly see healthy take-up."
He said the completion of residential projects such as The Interlace and Skyline Residences nearby would help increase the labour pool.
The working population at MBC stands at about 10,000, with the building's committed occupancy at more than 90 per cent, said Mr Tay Chin Khim, who heads Singapore investments at Mapletree Investments.
MBC is linked via covered walkways to Mapletree's adjacent properties, The Comtech and PSA Building, as well as the Labrador Park MRT station.
At PSA Building, the office space is 99.8 per cent occupied. It also houses Alexandra Retail Centre (ARC), which opened late last year with a net lettable area of around 89,000 sq ft.
Leasing for ARC is progressing well, with committed occupancy exceeding 80 per cent, Mr Tay said.
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