Investing in shophouses in the Secondary Settlements
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  • 04 December 2020

Investing in shophouses in the Secondary Settlements


From a population of about a thousand when Stamford Raffles first landed on its shores in 1819, Singapore’s population grew quickly as immigrants started moving to the country in search of trade and work. By 1825, the population, mainly concentrated downtown around the Singapore River, had passed the ten thousand mark, with a trade volume of $22 million, surpassing the long-established port of Penang.

The Secondary Settlements – covering areas like Balestier, Beach Road, Geylang, Jalan Besar, Joo Chiat, River Valley, Upper Circular Road and other districts – were largely developed between the 1900s and the 1960s as a result of outward movement of the population from the city centre. Over time, each developed its own unique traits and cultural ambience, while the myriad of colourful shophouses that line the landscape in these neighbourhoods are now an indelible part of Singapore’s architectural and built heritage.

New Bridge Road, which comes under the Upper Circular Conservation Area, is today an eclectic district that sees modern commercial and residential developments co-existing with three- to five-storey shophouses built mainly in the 1930s to the late 1960s.

The shophouses there, unlike those within the Historic Districts, enjoy more flexible development options. For example, rear extensions are allowed for some shophouses to increase the gross floor area while retaining the front façade, and these are good opportunities for investors who seek “value add play” for their purchases. Opportunities to further enhance an existing property entails value appreciation and potential capital gains downstream.

A current example is 27, 29, 31 and 33 New Bridge Road, which was purchased by a boutique real estate investment company. Additions and alterations (A&A) works are currently ongoing to increase the gross floor area, and also to refurbish the shophouses.

Investors also like to capitalise on opportunities when multiple adjacent shophouses are available, especially since shophouses are usually owned by different individuals who may not necessarily agree to sell their assets in tandem. Buyers of adjacent shophouses enjoy the efficiencies of larger floor plates and have greater leeway in space planning.

In this regard, 13 and 15 New Bridge Road – just across the road from The Central mall and Clarke Quay MRT station – represent a rare window of opportunity. These two 99-year leasehold adjoining shophouses are now available for sale via private treaty, with EDMUND TIE appointed as the sole marketing agent.

The subject properties are located within the highly accessible District 1, and with a choice location amid the vibrant Clarke Quay district and proximity to the CBD, they are well-positioned to attract high footfall from a dense catchment area.

The shophouses are well-suited for a variety of uses such as F&B establishments and offices. The variety of eateries in the area include Wanna Cuppa, a garden-themed café and bistro, the well-known Song Fa Bak Kut Teh as well as an array of ethnic and international fare at The Central mall.

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