BIG gun property developers who lined up for a prime residential site in the Kovan area were pipped in the bidding by a firm hardly anyone has heard of.
Duke Development placed the top bid of $290 million for the 190,000 sq ft site in Simon Road, trumping high-profile rivals Far East Organization, Hong Leong Holdings, Frasers Centrepoint and Allgreen Properties.
Duke is believed to be a group of private investors with a pair of top dealers as shareholders.
A company search turned up Mr Han Seng Juan and Mr David Loh as Duke shareholders. They are former executive directors at UOB Kay Hian, the brokerage arm of United Overseas Bank.
Both Mr Han and Mr Loh, who are believed to be related, also hold shares in Cybertech Communications and Healthstats International, among other companies.
Their winning bid works out to about $437 per sq ft (psf) per plot ratio, and is a ‘reasonable bid’, said CB Richard Ellis Research executive director Li Hiaw Ho.
Mr Li believes this offer can break even at about $800 psf for the finished condominium units, which are likely to sell at between $850 psf and $950 psf.
Nearby Kovan Melody has sold out all 778 units, a testament to the strong demand for homes in the area. The units are now being resold in the secondary market for more than $800 psf, said Mr Li.
He added that part of the area’s attraction are the good schools in the vicinity, such as Rosyth School and Maris Stella High School.
A condominium with about 555 units can be built on the Simon Road site, which has a maximum gross floor area of 664,337 sq ft.
Apart from homes, the plot can also host service apartments, said the Urban Redevelopment Authority.