Asian Real Estate
Awaken to Endless Possibilities
By Winnie Lam
Asia has been the growth engine of the world over the last few decades. Though it was unavoidably affected by the financial maelstrom that began two years ago, Asia has, thankfully, been relatively protected from the worst of the storm. Now, with the global economy looking set to turn the corner, Asia is fast recapturing its energy. While economic growth is gaining momentum in the region, investment opportunities in different kinds of properties that were once temporarily paralyzed are garnering interest among investors ready to ride the crest of an economic rebound.
Indeed, Asia is recapturing its appeal for many, with different countries and cities leveraging their distinctive prowess to stand out in the global arena. The dynamic development of the region is attracting an influx of international corporations and cosmopolitan talents from all over the world to invest and live here, spurring demand for industrial parks, business districts, luxury homes and entertainment complexes. These needs are gladly being met by the ambitious plans of pioneering developers committed to the future of the region.
In Hong Kong, The Cullinan of Sun Hung Kai Properties Group is reshaping the skyline with its twin-tower edifice. It is the tallest residential building in a supreme waterfront position with sweeping views of Victoria Harbor, and is in sync with a world-class neighborhood that includes the International Commerce Centre. Located at the heart of the metropolis’ transportation network, The Cullinan redefines the international paradigm of high-end residences with ultra connectivity, modernity and prestige.
In Singapore, Silversea, developed by Far East Organization, offers luxurious homes in an unparalleled location. Sitting on one of the last available plots on Singapore’s popular East Coast with an unblocked view of the South China Sea, the 383 elegant apartments at Silversea are a rare find in today’s market. The allure of the development is amplified by the magnificent sea view from its 11th floor promenade, which is outfitted with infinity-edged dip pools, elemental spas and fully equipped kitchens. With its lush landscaping and range of amenities spanning dining pavilions, swimming pools and spas, Silversea is the address of choice for the well-heeled.
With Korea keen to establish itself as a financial, logistics and business hub of Northeast Asia, the Gwangyang Bay Area Free Economic Zone (GFEZ) and Songdo International Business District (IBD) are both supreme investment opportunities. Leveraging its intrinsic capabilities, the nation’s industrial strength and government-supported incentives, GFEZ is set to be the next international maritime logistics center and industrial cluster for the petrochemicals and steel industries in Northeast Asia. A product of masterminds Gale International and POSCO E&C, the US$30-billion Songdo IBD is a dedicated world-class business hub cum global eco-city for an international corporate community.
Glamour and luxury are making their way in metropolitan Manila in the Philippines as the city’s biggest and most impressive real estate project, Resorts World, begins operations. The 7.8-hectare Resorts World is a flagship integrated entertainment project of Travellers International Hotel Group, Inc. — a joint venture between two of the region’s most dynamic companies, Philippine conglomerate Alliance Global Group, Inc. (AGI) and Star Cruises Ltd. The complex will be the first of its kind in the Philippines and will include the country’s largest gaming and entertainment complex at 30,000 square meters, an iconic mall and three prestigious hotels, including the Maxims Hotel by the Genting Group, the country’s first six-star all suites with full butler service.
Asia has always represented an exciting world of opportunities, with the real estate industry serving as a main pillar of the economy. Today, for those with confidence in the rebound of Asia and its investment funds, the possibilities are truly endless.
Gwangyang Bay Area Free Economic Zone
A Mesmerizing Land of Opportunities
As a driving force behind future global economic growth, Northeast Asia records a growing share in the global economy every year, accounting for almost 18% in 2008. With immense opportunities abounding in this region, the Gwangyang Bay Area Free Economic Zone (GFEZ) aspires to become the means through which worldwide investors achieve great accomplishments.
Measuring close to 100 square kilometers, GFEZ in South Korea is a multipurpose national land development located in the heart of Northeast Asia. GFEZ is best known for its distinctive port, the Gwangyang container port, which, with cargo volumes surging over 20% per year, is one of the globe’s fastest-growing ports. The port is anticipated to handle 12 million containers a year in its 34 state-of-the-art berths by 2020.
Offering excellent connectivity, ultramodern infrastructure, inexpensive land prices and great incentives for foreign investors, GFEZ envisions becoming an international maritime logistics center, an industrial cluster for petrochemicals and steel in Northeast Asia, and a business-friendly environment housing leading international business, logistics, manufacturing complexes and leisure facilities.
GFEZ is at the center of Northeast Asia and the region’s farreaching transportation system. With three airports in the immediate area, there are frequent flights within and outside Korea, and it takes less than 40 minutes to reach China and Japan. For land transport, a sophisticated network of three expressways, eight national roads, 18 national support roads and two new industrial railroads currently connects the area.
GFEZ also offers deregulation and support policies that bring affordability and convenience. For setting up factories or warehouses, foreign investors are welcome to purchase or lease the land for up to 50 years for approximately US$0.02 per square meter per month. Foreign-invested companies are also entitled to a variety of benefits and support in the areas of loans, tax, labor, education, health care and housing.
Today, Gwangyang Bay is already home to many prominent international companies, including the 180-company Yeosu Petrochemical Complex, the fifth-largest such complex in the world. The presence of POSCO, Hyundai Steel Corporation and Oriental Shipbuilding is also attracting companies to form specialized clusters. The development of GFEZ is set to be boosted by the 2012 Yeosu World Expo, which will be staged in the Bay, converging over 80 participating countries and 8 million visitors.
As today’s international corporations seek out prime geographical locations, advantageous financial incentives, well-integrated logistics systems, and motivated and qualified local workforces, GFEZ is certain to become the destination for world business leaders to thrive in the 21st century.
The Ultimate Luxury Residence Makes a Big Impression
The definition of luxury living changes with time. For the 21st century, it means modernity, connectivity and prestige – qualities that The Cullinan of Sun Hung Kai Properties Group (SHKP) has seamlessly integrated into its luxury residences.
The Cullinan boasts Hong Kong’s tallest residential towers at 270 meters. The twin towers, situated at a prime waterfront location on Kowloon West, offer breathtaking panoramic views of Victoria Harbor. With an ultramodern glass facade projecting a futuristic image in line with the nearby International Commerce Centre (ICC), the towers reflect elegance and status.
The SHKP always strives for distinctive property quality and premium lifestyle concepts in its developments, an approach that is perhaps best illustrated by the US$64.5-million d’Oro clubhouse at The Cullinan. Embracing deluxe design and top-notch facilities, the 100,000-square-foot d’Oro is one of the most esteemed private clubs in Hong Kong. Through a collaboration with VistaJet, the SHKP also offers buyers of typical and special units exclusive access to a dedicated flight program.
Of course, the charisma of The Cullinan does not stop here. Part of its allure comes from the world-class neighborhood of Kowloon West, home to the 118-story ICC, which is fast becoming a prime commercial location for international tenants such as Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley; Hong Kong’s tallest and most luxurious serviced suites, The Harbour View Place; the 92,902-square-meter upscale shopping paradise, Element; the chic W Hong Kong Hotel; and the grand Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
Situated atop the Airport Express Kowloon Station, this flourishing area is strategically positioned at the junction of major rail lines, offering unparalleled transportation access for conducting local and international business in the burgeoning Pearl River Delta region.
The Cullinan is taking center stage in Hong Kong, appealing to global buyers with an eye for premier property. Recently, over 400 units were snapped up for about US$1.29 billion, and SHKP is expecting its 4,000-square-foot Crown penthouse to fetch US$38.7 million – a record-breaking US$9,676 per square foot in Hong Kong.
“Certainly, The Cullinan and its unique neighborhood is a microcosm of a metropolis encapsulating today’s paradigm of modern living,” notes Mr. K. W. Lo, General Manager of the Leasing Department at SHKP. “With the West Kowloon Cultural District Project to be accomplished in the next ten years, Kowloon West is fast becoming an important business and cultural hub thriving with dynamism. All these factors are contributing to the prospective rental yield and capital appreciation, which attracts investors with vision.”
Songdo International Business District
The Gateway to Northeast Asia
Songdo IBD (www.songdoibd.com) opened its doors to the world on August 7, 2009, as the first sustainable city designed to be an international business district. Strategically located just 15 minutes from the Incheon International Airport – which provides access to one-third of the world’s population and key regional markets – and 40 miles southwest of Seoul, Songdo IBD lives up to its reputation as the “Gateway to Northeast Asia.”
Co-developed by Gale International and POSCO E&C, the first pilot project of its kind between a U.S. developer and a Korean company, Songdo IBD is the largest private real estate venture in history and the largest of South Korea’s Free Economic Zones. Master planned by renowned architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF), the 30-millionsquare-meter, 1,500-acre metropolis integrates the best practices of urban planning and sustainable design principles. The result is a synergistic mix of residential, commercial, retail and civic land uses — an ideal place in which the international corporate community can work, live and thrive.
The US$35 billion city is comprised of open space and parks (40%), a ubiquitous digital computing environment, fine hotels, international museums, a luxury retail mall, an international school, the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea, the architecturally stunning ConvensiA Convention Center and, most notable of all, the iconic 68-story Northeast Asia Trade Tower (NEATT), Korea’s tallest building and most advanced corporate center. Cisco Systems, United Technologies Corporation, 3M, Morgan Stanley and Taubman Centers are among the renowned multinational corporations selected by Songdo IBD developer Gale International to serve as the strategic partners to make the city an integrated, world-class business hub.
Songdo IBD is a true “eco-city” that sets new international standards in sustainable building design, systems engineering, urban infrastructure and community. Its dedication has earned it a number of significant awards, including the first annual Sustainable Cities Award (in 2008) in the category of Technological Advances in Practice and Design, sponsored jointly by the Financial Times and the Urban Land Institute (ULI). Songdo IBD will also be the largest project in Asia to be included in the LEED-ND (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Neighborhood Development) Pilot Program. Songdo IBD’s leadership in sustainable development will be key in creating quality-of-life attributes for both its corporations and residents.
The business and residential appeal of Songdo IBD was made dramatically apparent during the pre-sale of the first phase of residential housing, when 2,500 units representing US$1 billion were sold in a single day. With its unique location at the epicenter of Northeast Asia’s booming economic region, full-fledged infrastructure, the highest-quality amenities and a designated free economic zone supported by multinational financial incentives, Songdo IBD stands for the bountiful investment opportunities of today and tomorrow.
A Fresh and Promising Outlook
Against the backdrop of a stabilizing world economy, Asia is recuperating swiftly. The real estate market is leading the way, proving once again its resilience through the ups and downs of economic turbulence. Prospective industrial parks, business districts, luxury homes and entertainment complexes are springing up, forming the fundamentals that anchor the development of the region and exerting a pull for investment in anticipation of an economic rebound.
Hong Kong witnessed a jump in real estate investment activity with improved market sentiment in the first half of 2009. Prices have bounced back faster than expected, fueled by low interest rates, a stock market rally and an inflow of capital. With the luxury residential market performing particularly well among all sectors, The Cullinan of Sun Hung Kai Properties Group is set to benefit from this trend.
Emerging as one of the three largest economic blocs in the world, Northeast Asia also presents an optimistic picture as Korea leads the way in attracting foreign investors with its inviting Free Trade Zones. With the firm determination and support of the Korea Government behind them, the Gwangyang Bay Area Free Economic Zone (GFEZ) and Songdo International Business District in Seoul will take center stage to realize the country’s vision of becoming Asia’s business and logistics hub.
Singapore is on track to becoming the world’s most globalized nation as it grows into a safe haven for wealth with a top-notch financial system, political stability, vibrant business outlook and secure environment. With a changing landscape fast adapting to this globalization, Singapore is also offering lucrative investment opportunities in the real estate market, specifically in the highend sector. Providing innovative and functional spaces as well as high-quality experiences and value for its customers, Far East Organization’s Silversea is a promising choice for investors.
Resorts World at Manila illustrates the renewed enthusiasm for tourism in the Philippines. It is the centerpiece of Manila’s efforts to become a tourism and entertainment center for the region for both domestic and international travelers. It will also represent the next chapter in the development of Alliance Global Group, Inc. — including its property company Megaworld — and Star Cruises, which are attracting increasing attention from institutional investors worldwide.
Demonstrating their confidence in the revitalization of the Asian economy, established regional developers keep bettering the landscape of Asia with groundbreaking real estate projects. Now, the time has come for business leaders to capitalize on opportunities with long-term prospects.