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Gaw Capital buys Singapore office/retail block

Hong Kong private equity property group Gaw Capital Partners (GCP) has paid S$342 million (US$256 million) to acquire PoMo, a nine-storey office and retail block in Singapore’s Selegie Road.

It intends to revamp the block, particularly its retail component, to tap the student population from the area’s educational institution, reports the Straits Times.

GVP president/co-founder Kenneth Gaw says Singapore’s property sector is one of the few major markets in Asia to have had a downturn in the past few years. “It is now on the cusp of recovery and we are confident about buying into this.”

The group, which has invested about $500 million in Singapore in recent years, specialises in adding strategic value to underused real estate through redesign and repositioning. It has raised equity of US$8.7 billion and has US$13.4 billion in assets under management.

“We’re confident we can add value to PoMo,” says Gaw.

GCP senior investment director Imelda Tham says PoMo’s strategic location in an arts and educational neighbourhood is close several large educational institutions, providing access to about 17,000 students and teaching staff.

“We believe we can harness this potential by creating a more comprehensive retail tenant mix that engages the student population and draws higher foot traffic into the mall. The mall has a mix of F&B, fitness, and health-and-beauty tenants, and we are looking to introduce more experiential aspects by introducing an entertainment zone.”

PoMo’s net lettable area includes 70,000sqft (6500sqm) of retail space, from basement one to level three. The retail space is 75 per cent leased, with an average rent of about $9 psf a month. Tenants include Cosmoprof Academy, Evolve Mixed Martial Arts, Mos Burger and Ya Kun Kaya Toast. Major tenancies will be expiring in about two years.

Its offices are fully leased, with education service provider Kaplan the biggest tenant.

Revamp work is likely to begin progressively this year, says Tham said. It will focus mainly on the retail area to improve the circulation and enhance shop visibility.

Previous retail renovations by the firm include Pacific Century Place in Beijing, Plaza 353 in Shanghai, Metropolitan Plaza in Guangzhou and West 9 Zone retail podium in Hong Kong.

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