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Some buildings in Singapore are on the edge of two different districts, yet they have had a significant impact on both. The old Maxwell House, a 13-story building on the edge of the Central Business District and Chinatown, is a prime example. Maxwell House, which opened in 1971, was located at 20 Maxwell Road during the subsequent half century. As a component of District 1 and the Central Business District, it was included in the CCR.
History of TMW Maxwell
In April of 2021, for the sum of $276.8 million, SingHaiyi Group, Chip Eng Seng, and Chuan Investments formed a joint venture to buy Maxwell House. Access to the building, now known as TMW Maxwell, is gained through Tras lane, a more peaceful side lane off the main drag of Maxwell Road lined with conservation shophouses.
TMW Maxwell is currently located in Chinatown in District 2 thanks to its new location and building orientation at 31 Tras Street in the RCR.
The old Maxwell House’s Outline Planning Permission to enhance the plot ratio from 4.3 to 5.6 was approved despite the development’s ineligibility for the CBD Incentive Scheme and the Strategic Development Incentive Scheme. Because of this, TMW Maxwell has a 30% increase in plot ratio and a GFA of at least 233,987 square feet.
“When this collective sale site [former Maxwell House] was launched, we immediately thought of a vertical garden concept amid a concrete jungle and how we can make working from home enjoyable for people,” explains Raymond Chia, group CEO of Chip Eng Seng.
According to Michael Ng, executive director of CEL Development, Chip Eng Seng’s real estate arm, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) views this site as “a vital gateway that link Club Street and Ann Siang Hill to the Tras Street-Tanjong Pagar Conservation area.”
For this reason, URA enlisted the help of an expert group of architects known as a “design advisory panel” (DAP). Peter Wee, general manager of business development and marketing at CEL Development, adds, “The DAP looked at the aesthetics and how it blends in with the rest of the CBD.” Time was spent on obtaining the necessary planning authority and formal approval.
About TMW Maxwell Condo
Studio apartments ranging in size from 476.3 to 479.4 square feet make up around 62% of TMW Maxwell’s total housing stock. There is a queen-size Murphy bed with an integrated sofa, a pull-out dining table at the kitchen counter, and a concealed pull-out table at the balcony, an ideal place for wine on quiet evenings. These apartments are designed as “flip/switch units” with spaces that can be transformed to suit the needs of the residents.
“Fresh, bold, and relevant to the target demographic who will appreciate the live-work-play concept of this vibrant neighborhood in Tanjong Pagar,” is how OrangeTee & Tie’s deputy CEO, Justin Quek, describes the flip/switch studios.
Those who “may not necessarily spend much time at home,” but “appreciate the flexibility of spaces for work from home or even entertaining,” as Quek puts it, will benefit greatly from the flip/switch concept. This is countered by maintaining reasonably priced, practical room sizes.
One-bedroom and one-bedroom plus study apartments make up the remaining 21% of the units, and they average 567 square feet in size. One-bedroom lofts range in size from 843 to 870 square feet and are also available. The remaining 15% are two-bedroom and dual-key homes ranging in size from 792 to 860 square feet.
Plants that grow up and out, adaptable layouts
Formwerkz Architects, located in Singapore, developed the towering 20-story TMW Maxwell. From the basement up to the third story, the proposed mixed-use complex will have 11 retail spaces, while floors four through twenty will be home to 324 apartments. The 99-year lease for the mixed-use development begins in April 2023. The projected completion date is early 2027.
About 20% of the gross floor area (GFA) is taken up by retail and food and beverage (F&B) commercial space on the ground floor and the first four floors. In addition to the through-block connection provided by Tras Street, all of the F&B outlets will also face the pedestrian walkway.
For more on how to make money off of the CBD Incentive Scheme, check out this article: Shenton House: Collective sale of a relic from the 1970s.
The public space, designed by landscape consultant Compound Collaborative as a “outdoor living room” with comfortable sitting places, is particularly notable for the amphitheatre seating that runs from the basement to the third floor. Located at the intersection of Tanjong Pagar and Tras Street.
There is a series of gardens that are piled vertically from the fourth to the twentieth floors, with features such as loungers, pools, an observation deck, and peaceful areas where people may read, relax, or get some work done. These continue on the rooftop, which has a 25-meter infinity lap pool with a jacuzzi, aqua seats, and deck chairs, as well as a clubhouse, gym, and dining rooms reserved exclusively for members.
Live, Work and Play at TMW Maxwell
Chia of Chip Eng Seng adds, “At TMW Maxwell, we have developed a live-work-play concept to cater to the needs of those who wish to reside in close proximity to the city.” People who work from home could become bored if they spend all day in their flat. They might take a break in one of the downstairs manicured sitting spaces or the vertical gardens.
The majority of the homes at TMW Maxwell will sell for between $1.5 and $2 million. The base price per square foot is $3,188.
Marcus Chua, CEO of ERA Singapore, argues that TMW’s price “is at a sweet spot” because 37.2% of residential sales this year have been in the $1.5 million to $2 million area.
According to Ismail Gafoor, CEO of PropNex, “TMW is focusing on a quantum play,” with studios and one-bedroom apartments priced between $1.5 million and $2 million.
Peter Wee, GM of business development and marketing at CEL Development, thinks the major target demographic would be young professionals in the CBD. They like being so close to Tanjong Pagar, Robinson Road, and Cecil Street, where many of them work, he adds.
Amenities near TMW Maxwell
The restaurants and nightlife of Ann Siang Hill, Club Street, and Chinatown are just over the street. The Maxwell Food Centre is just across the street, and the lower floors of TMW Maxwell will eventually have its own dining establishments as well.
In an interview, Chia of Chip Eng Seng said that the company would not be selling the 11 commercial units under a single strata title, but would instead choose the ideal retail and restaurant tenants. “We want to make sure there’s a healthy balance of food and retail,” he explains.
Cross the street and you’ll be at Maxwell MRT Station (Thomson-East Coast Line), which is about a two-minute walk from TMW Maxwell. Getting to Shenton Way from there takes just one MRT station. Also conveniently located nearby is the Tanjong Pagar MRT Station (East-West Line), from which Raffles Place is just one MRT station away and City Hall is two stops away.
PropNex’s Gafoor cites the property’s proximity to the Central Business District as a selling point. “It’s not totally in the heart of the CBD because it’s just across the road from Maxwell Food Centre, with Chinatown nearby,” he says. Therefore, TMW enjoys the advantages of both worlds. You don’t have to go too far to get to work downtown, so it should appeal to young singles and couples who value that amenity.
Gafoor thinks TMW Maxwell will not just appeal to Singaporeans, but also to permanent residents and visitors from the five nations that have a free trade agreement with Singapore. Gafoor elaborates that this is because they may claim a refund of excess stamp duty paid by the buyer. The United States, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland make up the other five nations.
Future Launches in CBD
Chia of Chip Eng Seng is up to date on all the building that will be happening in the neighborhood. The 351-unit One Bernam was released in the beginning of May 2021, not long after the joint-venture partners bought the old Maxwell House. While the overall average price for One Bernam is $2,528 psf, caveats show that apartments on the 24th floor have sold for as much as $3,340 psf since last September.
The freehold, mixed-use building Newport Residences (redevelopment of the former Fuji Xerox Towers) on Anson Road will have serviced apartments, offices, and retail, and will soon be ready for occupancy.
In addition, the 63-story, 305-meter-tall skyscraper that will soon be Singapore’s tallest will be home to the 215-unit Skywater Residences, a mix of one- to four-bedroom suites. Alibaba and Perennial Holdings have formed a 50/50 joint venture to renovate the 8 Shenton Way building formerly known as the AXA Tower. A joint venture between Chip Eng Seng and SingHaiyi has resulted in the acquisition of a 21% share in PRE13, the subsidiary of Perennial Holdings that owns 50% of AXA Tower. The goal for Skywater Residences was to create a really luxurious community.
Marina View Residences, a new residential complex with 748 units and a luxury hotel, will be built by a Malaysian company called IOI Properties. The developer outbid all other interested parties and paid $1.508 billion in September 2021 to purchase the plot of land near the Shenton Way MRT Station where the building would be built.
Late in June, a consortium including the Chinese development firm Kingsford Group, Obsidian Development, and Polarix Cultural & Science Park Investment, submitted the highest offer of $1.034 billion ($1,402 psf per plot ratio) for the Marina Gardens Lane property. The 131,805-square-foot property, which has a 99-year leasehold and is designated for residential with commercial at the first floor, has the potential to house 790 apartments and 8,073 square feet of retail space.
Potential of TMW Maxwell
Chia of Chip Eng Seng, though, is positive about his company’s offering. The idea we have here at TMW, he explains, “cannot be replicated anywhere else.”
Mark Yip, CEO of Huttons Asia, thinks that TMW would appeal to investors wanting to capitalize on the rental demand from CBD professionals in addition to singles and Dink (dual income, no kids) couples. Yip thinks the dual-key apartments would be appealing to investors. “The unit mix and sizes are geared towards the local market and should see a healthy response,” he says.
ERA’s Chu said that TMW Maxwell is “a good investment” in District 2 for business owners and financiers. “District 2 commands the second highest rent of $7.34 psf per month for 1 and 2 bedrooms units, trailing only District 6, the High Street, Beach Road area,” he explains.
OrangeTee’s Quek observes that the rental and sale transactions in the Tanjong Pagar-CBD region demonstrate the area’s popularity among young professionals.