Common Bedroom

This past week, The Assembly Place (TAP), a company that develops and operates shared living spaces, launched its newest project. The property is a four-story building with eight walk-up flats, and it can be found on Duke’s Road, just off Bukit Timah Road.

This freehold development was acquired by Pacific Eagle Real Estate, a Singapore-based real estate investor and developer, in December 2021 for a total of $53.9 million. Earlier this year, Pacific Eagle Real Estate entrusted TAP with the management of its walk-up units. In addition to the TAP-operated businesses, the building’s ground level is home to four more establishments.

TAP rented the building beginning in October 2022 and spent the next four and a half months doing necessary repairs and installing furnishings. All the flats had their kitchens and bathrooms renovated, and new windows were installed.

Duke Living Room

The Duke’s Road hotel, which TAP is gradually opening to the public, features 42 guest rooms. Since early February, approximately 30 rooms have become available, and roughly half of them have already been rented out. Over twenty rooms have been reserved, according to TAP CEO and co-founder Eugene Lim. Throughout the following weeks, we will release the remaining rooms. Lim estimates that occupancy rates will reach 90% by the month’s end of February. A standard bedroom at the hotel will set you back around $2,000 a month in rent.

This hotel is TAP’s newest addition in a string of recent openings. It opened a co-living hotel at 3 Veerasamy Road in Little India in the middle of January. Santa United International Holdings, an integrated business firm, owns the four adjacent preserved shophouses that comprise the 24-room boutique hotel. The co-living hotel has a one-night minimum stay requirement, while the co-living houses have a three-month requirement in accordance with URA standards.

Lim reveals that the hotel has been consistently filled to around 82% of its capacity ever since it first opened. It’s TAP’s second hotel, after last year’s debut of The Assembly Place, Mayo Co-Living Hotel, a 23-room establishment at the intersection of Jalan Besar and Mayo Street. During the same month in 2016, TAP opened its first hostel, a co-living place at 25A Perak Road. The whole 31-room, 180-bed inn is occupied at this time.

Entering the market for serviced apartments


TAP will soon have another another sort of lodging under its belt after its forays into boutique hotels and hostels: serviced flats. In order to take over the serviced apartments at 58 Stevens Road, former Metropolitan YMCA Residences, the operator recently signed a five-year leasing agreement with Metropolitan YMCA (MYMCA). On a residential lot of 21,480 square feet, the MYMCA had previously tried to sell the structure in July 2021 without success.

There are a total of 46 bedrooms in the building’s studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments (there are 27 units total). When a few minor repairs are made, TAP will rename the building The Assembly Place @ Stevens. TAP’s first co-living serviced apartment is set to open in the middle of March and may be leased out for a minimum of seven days in accordance with URA requirements.

TAP is intending to open three other serviced apartments in addition to the MYMCA facility. At 3 Tank Road in the River Valley neighborhood, you’ll find one that will contain 15 rooms. The second is a 12-room mansion located at 18 Penhas Road, just off Lavender Street, and the third is a four-bedroom shophouse at 272 East Cost Road. The plan is to have everything open by the end of June. Lim thinks that the serviced flats are a great asset to TAP’s portfolio. The expansion of the company’s residential, hotel, and hostel options “strengthens our position as an accommodation supplier,” he adds.

TAP is growing its traditional co-living portfolio in addition to its short-term stays. It has bought up a wide range of assets, from single-family homes to apartment complexes, to increase the number of rooms it offers. Lim claims that the operator’s portfolio is divided down the middle between apartments leased directly from the property owner and those acquired via a management agreement.

An 80-room apartment construction near Geylang Road was just signed and will be delivered to TAP in April. Based on the success of its neighboring property, Mill at 32, located on Lorong 32 Geylang, which had an average occupancy rate of 98% last year, Lim anticipates a solid take-up for the project once it debuts. Mill at 32, owned and operated by TAP, has 152 guest rooms.

TAP has also agreed to manage a brand-new apartment complex on Mattar Road. The 5-story, 40-room complex should have its T.O.P. (temporary occupancy permit) in hand within the next two months. During the course of the next three months, TAP plans to roll out an estimated 400 more guest rooms. By June of this year, Lim estimates that 1,500 rooms will be available at 110 different sites.

Mattar Residences
At Mattar Road, a brand new co-living building developed by The Assembly Place will rise five stories and have forty units

On track to hit 3,000 rooms ready by the end of 2023,

Lim is hopeful that TAP will reach its objective of 3,000 rooms by the end of the year. He says, “I really believe that reaching 1,000 rooms in September made a heck of a difference.” At the point that we crossed that line, we had reached critical mass, allowing for rapid expansion. It’s partly due to the firm’s rising profile in the industry, which has resulted in a rise in inquiries about potential properties from landlords, asset owners, and brokers. Lim reports that “more individuals have begun contacting us” in search of homes, as opposed to their team actively searching for them.

In addition, TAP has been able to increase the rate at which it can turn around properties because to its expansion. It presently employs a total of 32 employees, including a design and project team responsible for directing the pre-launch preparations of all of its sites. The time required to get the house keys and begin renting them out to renters has been drastically reduced as a result. It used to take up to six weeks to turn around a unit, but now we can do it in as little as two,” Lim explains.


Venturing into International Students Accommodation

TAP is expanding, and Lim has his eyes set on a new market: International Students’ Accommodation. The firm is now in discussions for a property “with close to 500 beds” to launch with as its first project, thus he believes that this is the next area they want to expand into.

Lim believes that the market for student accommodation in Singapore is underserved. For this reason, he plans to open a “luxury co-living hostel” to serve students, particularly those from abroad. Currently, 61% of TAP’s co-living residents are students, and 60% of these renters are under the age of 30. He reveals, “It’s a vast gang.”

The majority of them are students from other countries; Chinese students make up the biggest group, followed by those from France and India. It’s worth noting that “we have a lot of MBA students studying at institutions like Insead and Essec Management School,” he continues. Eighty-three percent of TAP employees are non-Americans, either born abroad or legal permanent immigrants.

Now that safe-distance standards have been relaxed and most countries have abolished border restrictions, including China, Lim anticipates a surge in the international student population in Singapore. Students in China who are enrolled in online courses at international institutions were told last month that their courses would no longer be recognized by the Chinese government, prompting many to return to their abroad school. This is a reversal of a policy put in place during the epidemic that permitted international students enrolled in foreign colleges to continue their studies remotely. This is encouraging news for TAP as they want to expand into the student housing market. If it is successful in acquiring the 500-room hotel, it will see a new wave of expansion.

Lim is aware that it’s not enough to just increase its room count during this growth; it must also ensure that the rooms are occupied. As the company expands, “occupancy is something I drill into my people,” he adds. TAP’s co-living buildings had an average occupancy of 95% last year, and Lim hopes to increase that number to 98% this year.

In light of this, he has set his sights on renting out 3,000 rooms. It’s only a question of how quickly we can get there with the appropriate team in place, he adds.