The Straits Times | 12 Apr 2013
Surging demand for health treatments is creating such a rush for space that almost all the medical suites at SBF Center have been sold within a month of the project's launch.
Buyers have snapped up 45 of the 48 suites at SBF Center's Mediplex at $4,200 per sq ft on average. That is well above the $3,800 to $4,000 psf range at the launch in the middle of March.
Developer Far East Organization says the centre, near Tanjong Pagar MRT station, aims to cater to the 200,000 or so professionals working in the Central Business District (CBD), plus a growing residential population in the area. At these prices, the suites, which range from 678 sq ft to 1,302 sq ft, are selling for between $2.6 million and $5.2 million.
Buyers have usually been doctors, rather than investors.
Far East's chief operating officer of property sales, Mr Chia Boon Kuah, told The Straits Times that "there will be demand to own purpose-built medical suites in a dedicated facility within the CBD, where there is limited supply of strata-titled units available for sale." Far East already owns the Novena Medical Center and Novena Specialist Center.
Savills Singapore research head Alan Cheong said there were about 50 clinics serving the Raffles Place, Shenton Way and Tanjong Pagar areas, but about 195 would be needed to serve a projected population of about 215,000 in the area.
In general, developers are increasingly looking at building facilities to capitalise on growing domestic demand and a boom in medical tourism, analysts said.
Nearly 36,000 medical tourists came here in 2011 and spent close to $1 billion on treatments.
Colliers International deputy managing director Grace Ng told The Straits Times there is demand for non-surgical medical services, such as aesthetics, dental, health screening, and alternatives such as traditional Chinese medicine.
No official statistics on these medical suites are published, but Ms Ng reckons there were around 1,400 such facilities here by October last year.
She added that 314 new units are expected to come on stream before 2017, with about 260 set for completion this year.
Non-surgical medical and dental services are typically housed in standalone medical hubs, rather than in suites attached to hospitals, such as Thomson Medical Centre and Mount Alvernia Medical Centre. These typically cater to surgeons.
Singapore's standalone medical hubs include Camden Medical Centre, Ngee Ann City Medical Suites, Orchard Medical Specialists Centre at Lucky Plaza, Paragon Medical Suites and Tanglin Shopping Centre.
As of April 1, average monthly medical suite rents at standalone hubs ranged from $12 to $14 psf, while average sale prices were between $3,000 and $4,200 psf. Still, these prices were cheaper than suites attached to hospitals, which rented out for $15 to $28 psf a month and sold for $4,000 to $7,500 psf.
Besides building medical suites from scratch, developers are also looking at converting existing commercial space into treatment facilities. Far East is converting the top seven floors of the 12-storey Pacific Plaza, in the Orchard Road area, into medical suites.
Raffles Medical also applied twice to convert part of a commercial building in Bideford Road into medical suites.
Its applications were turned down by the Urban Redevelopment Authority.
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