Chinese tycoon Du Shuanghua’s Glory Property buys Far East Shopping Centre en bloc for about $908 mil

Du Shuanghua’s Bright Ruby Resources has made a considerable impact on the world’s major cities with their prime real estate investments. Recently, the tycoon has purchased Far East Shopping Centre en bloc via his investment vehicle Glory Property Development, and the sale was brokered by Michael Tay of CBRE. Far East Shopping Centre is not the first major real estate acquisition Du has made in Singapore, having previously purchased the 37-storey, 999-year, Grade-A office building Income@Raffles for just over $1 billion in 2020, plus the former Grand Park Orchard and its retail podium Knightsbridge.

Du Shuanghua’s Bright Ruby Resources’ forays in prime real estate investments have made it a force to reckon with in major cities around the world. Their latest acquisition in Singapore is Far East Shopping Centre, purchased en bloc via Glory Property Development, an entity under Bright Ruby Resources, and brokered by Michael Tay, head of Singapore capital markets, CBRE. With the purchase price estimated at around $908 million, this works out to about $3,350 psf per plot ratio for the 290,574 sq ft of potential gross floor area, under the Strategic Development Incentive (SDI) scheme offered by URA.

Previously, Bright Ruby paid $1.15 billion a decade ago for the former Grand Park Orchard and its retail podium, Knightsbridge. After an extensive asset enhancement exercise, it reopened in 202 as the 308-room Pullman Singapore Orchard, managed by Accor Group. Additionally, the company purchased the Marriot Champs-Elysees in Paris for US$464 million in 2014 and the Hilton Hotel in Sydney for US$364 million the following year.

The prime retail space previously occupied by lifestyle retailer Abercrombie & Fitch at the former Knightsbridge reopened last year as Singapore’s largest Adidas store. Other retail tenants include the Apple Store, Rolex, The Hour Glass and Ritual Gym. This showcases Bright Ruby Resources’ ability to reposition a prime asset into a modern destination.

Additionally, plans for a Woodlands Condo development are underway. This development will feature a variety of luxury condos as well as retail and dining establishments. The development will also provide residents with access to a variety of amenities such as a pool, tennis court, gym, and more. This project is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Woodlands Condo development offers a great opportunity for residents to enjoy the park and have access to the amenities and services they need.

At the end of 2019, Bright Ruby Resources paid US$870 million for the 438-room Westin Hotel Tokyo, and the purchase of Far East Shopping Centre is a continuation of their investment in prime real estate in major cities. Far East Shopping Centre is situated at 545 Orchard Road, with a 75m frontage along Orchard Road and a 55m frontage along Angullia Park in prime District 9, and is zoned for commercial use.

URA has identified Far East Shopping Centre as one of the six buildings on the stretch of Orchard Road – between Cuscaden Road and Orchard Boulevard – to be redeveloped into “a new exciting destination”. The other buildings are Hotel Properties Ltd’s (HPL) Voco Orchard Singapore, Forum the Shopping Mall and HPL House, Wharf Estates Singapore’s Wheelock Place, and Bonvests Holdings’ Liat Towers.

HPL has received the go-ahead from URA to redevelop its three properties, and Pacific Eagle Real Estate recently purchased Tanglin Shopping Centre for $868 million ($2,769 psf ppr). Far East Shopping Centre’s price of about $3,350 psf ppr has surpassed the previous record set by Ming Arcade, which was sold last December for $172 million or $3,125 psf ppr.

The rejuvenation of Orchard Road is well underway and the new owners, including Bright Ruby Resources, will benefit from the 20% bonus gross floor area, as well as flexibility in land use and building height, under URA’s SDI Scheme for owners who redevelop their properties jointly with at least one of their neighbours to create “a new destination”. This is in addition to a proposed direct underground pedestrian link from Orchard MRT Station, increasing footfall to this part of Orchard Road.

It will be interesting to see what new development Du Shuanghua and Bright Ruby Resources have in store for Far East Shopping Centre.

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