By Uma Shankari
THE former Singapore Power Building in Somerset Road will re-open in January 2010 as TripleOne Somerset - after a $50 million make-over.
The office building - acquired by Singapore-based Pacific Star Group in February 2008 for more than $1 billion - has been refurbished to include two floors of retail and food and beverage (F&B) space with a total area of 60,000 sq ft.
Pacific Star converted some of the net lettable area (NLA) into retail space, which has been leased out at better rents. Rents for office space in TripleOne Somerset are now $6-$8 per sq ft on average, while retail rents are at $15-$20 psf.
The conversion of lower value space to higher value retail use has enhanced the building, as with other properties in Pacific Star's portfolio, such as Wisma Atria in Orchard Road, said Benett Theseira, Pacific Star's president of direct investments.
'By adding the additional retail space, we have improved our revenue (from the building) about 10 per cent,' he said.
Looking ahead, the building should be able to command higher office rents with the new retail and F&B facilities in place, Mr Theseira said. Rents could climb by 5-10 per cent when current three-year leases expire, he said.
When it was acquired by Pacific Star, the building's NLA was 550,000 sq ft - all designated for office use.
After refurbishment, there is about 500,000 sq ft of office space, 60,000 sq ft of retail space and an outdoor refreshment area of about 5,000 sq ft.
The retail and F&B extension was created by converting areas previously occupied by an auditorium, cafeteria and three office units, empty space in the lobby areas facing Somerset Road and void areas above the carpark.
Further NLA expansion will be explored in 18-24 months, Pacific Star said.
It has so far secured commitments for more than 75 per cent of the mall space and is confident the mall will be fully leased when it opens in January 2010.
Tenants signed up so far include dining chain Applebee's, whose outlet at the mall will be its first in Southeast Asia. Singapore's largest supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice will open a 14,500 sq ft gourmet supermarket at the mall to cater to tenants and people living nearby.
Besides creating retail and F&B space, Pacific Star is upgrading the office building's common areas such as the lift and reception lobbies to appeal to a wider range of tenants.
The office space is now 95 per cent leased. Singapore Power, the anchor tenant, continues to occupy around 200,000 sq ft of office space under a lease-back arrangement.