Aussie developer has big plans for Paya Lebar site

A massive mixed-use site in Paya Lebar Central is set to showcase Lend Lease’s urban renewal strengths, according to Mr Rod Leaver, the Australian property giant’s chief executive in Asia. “We have many construction projects, in the life sciences and education sectors for example, with strong sustainability outcomes for our clients,” he said. “But where we make the biggest impact is when we have our own large-scale developments,” he told The Straits Times in an interview earlier this month. “Thinking about urban regeneration, at scale, is for Lend Lease the opportunity in Singapore.” The developer of 313@Somerset and Jem in Singapore is developing Barangaroo South in Sydney, part of a 22ha former industrial site near the city. The precinct will have about 5.27 million sq ft of mixed-use gross floor area. Already, HSBC Holdings and PricewaterhouseCoopers have signed leases. In Central London, in a tie-up with Southwark Council, the firm is developing three sites on 11.33ha in Elephant & Castle, in a £1.5 billion (S$3.1 billion) regeneration plan to add 3,000 new homes and 200,000 sq ft of mixed-use space. He said: “Each of the regions in our international business is strongly pursuing the integrated model, looking at urban regeneration and pursuing opportunities to work with governments.” The firm’s integrated model covers the full property value chain from funding to managing projects, including design, development, construction and investment management. Lend Lease Group’s business in Asia contributed A$156.3 million (S$165 million) in revenue for the half-year to Dec 31 last year. Australia led with A$3.34 billion in revenue, followed by A$1.72 billion in the Americas and A$682.9 million in Europe.

In Asia, it operates in Singapore, China, Japan and Malaysia, with Singapore as its regional headquarters. It has developed more than 1,000 projects in the region. It built and manages the Taipei 101 retail podium and Setia City Mall in Malaysia. It has been here for about 40 years, having developed the Insead Asia Campus, Infineon and others. It also has a range of managed funds. The firm bought Parkway Parade in 2000, then redeveloped and now manages it. For the Paya Lebar site, it plans to have about 968,750 sq ft of net lettable office area, 430,560 sq ft of retail area, and 440 residential units – all set to be ready in 2018. It has a 30 per cent stake; sovereign wealth fund Abu Dhabi Investment Authority holds the rest. They were awarded the site for $1.67 billion last month. Paya Lebar is in the early stages of rejuvenation, with the office space at Paya Lebar Square only about 10 per cent filled. But Mr Leaver is confident Lend Lease can transform the area. “What Lend Lease does well is, it has a vision for a location going through regeneration, and going in early before there has been a rewriting of that location. “In Paya Lebar, it’s still very early in its regeneration and it’s the right time for us to come in early and be the catalyst for a lot of that regeneration.” Land is set to be freed up when Paya Lebar Air Base moves, while the property also has good access to the East-West and Circle Lines. Mr Leaver expects to attract multinational corporations keen on sustainability and the project’s proximity to the Central Business District – about 10 minutes’ drive away – and the airport, about 15 to 20 minutes out. The project’s large floor plates will also provide a high-performance work space. Lend Lease is also keen to expand in its three other Asian markets. In Malaysia, it sees “significant growth” via the joint development of the 7ha TRX Lifestyle Quarter site with 1Malaysia Development, and the Setia City Mall’s second phase with SP Setia. As the largest owner and operator of senior living projects in Australia, it aims to do the same in China, possibly Shanghai. In Japan, it has been largely focused on the telecommunications industry, having built a number of telecommunications towers. “We are looking at opportunities in retail development there, possibly senior living. We also have a strong track record in the Olympics – we built the Athlete’s Village in Stratford for London’s 2012 Olympics, and infrastructure for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and 1996 Olympics in Atlanta – and are looking to support the Japanese government for Tokyo 2020,” he said.

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