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S’pore to build 15 new GCB plots – will we see another wave of tech founders snapping them up?

tech founders buying good class bungalows

15 Good Class Bungalows (GCB) are set to be built over former Caldecott Broadcast Centre.

The GCB plots will range from 15,070 sqft to 250,801 sqft. The properties will hold a leasehold of 99 years and the larger plots could be subdivided to accomodate more GCBs in the future, of up to 26 bungalows.

Image Credit: Showsuite Consultancy and CBRE

Owner and developer Perennial Holdings will be working with authorities to widen vehicle carriageways as well as add new planting strips and pedestrian pathways.

These plans were revealed in an internal circular the Urban Redevelopment Authority distributed to residents, EdgeProp reported. The developer is said to be in the planning phase and will make an official statement via a press release when the time is right.

The site for 15 new GCBs / Image Credit: CBRE, Google Maps

Creme de la creme

In Dec 2020, Perennial and its Chairman Kuok Khoon Hong won the 752,000 sqft site tender for S$280.90 million. The Chairman is said to be taking the biggest plot – which is large enough for 11 GCBs – for his extended family.

Kuok is ranked the 12th richest person in Singapore, according to Forbes. He is also the Chairman and CEO of palm oil producer Wilmar International.

The property prices of these 99-year leasehold GCBs will certainly be priced more attractively than those freehold GCBs in the area. According to research firms, freehold GCBs there have transacted at over S$2,000 per square foot.

kuok khoon hong
Perennial Chairman Kuok Khoon Hong is taking the largest GCB plot for his family / Image Credit: White Page Int

Other than Kuok, who comes from old money, the neighbourhood is set to see new arrivals from new money backgrounds strutting around – specifically tech founders whose net worth soared amid the pandemic as people became reliant on tech services and goods.

A GCB is a bungalow plot that exceeds 15,000 sqft and must also be located within one of 39 gazetted areas identified by authorities. The property prices start from S$7 million to as high as a whopping S$128 million, data from GCB transactions in 2021 showed.

The standard rule is that you need to be a Singaporean to be able to buy a GCB.

Tech founders scooping up GCBs

Last year was a year where at least five bosses/C-level executives from the tech industry snapped up the coveted GCBs.

In June, Secretlab’s co-founder and CEO Ian Ang bought a penthouse and a GCB for S$51 million. The GCB is located at 27 Olive Road in the Caldecott Hill Estate and it cost him S$36 million. The property is freehold and is located in a prime district.

Ian’s GCB has a plot size of 23,424 square feet and is closely located next to the former Caldecott Broadcast Centre site. It allows a 270-degree view of the Caldecott Hill Estate, the Mount Pleasant area, and the Singapore Polo Club.

GCB owners: Secretlab’s Ian Ang, Grab’s Anthony Tan, and Razer’s Tan Min-Liang / Image Credit: The Peak, Tatler

Other tech founders have also bought properties located at other prime areas like Bukit Timah.

In July, the family of Grab co-founder Anthony Tan was said to have bought a S$40 million GCB in the Bin Tong Park area. Not long later, Razer’s co-founder Tan Min-Liang was reported to have bought a Third Avenue GCB for S$52.8 million.

In August, TikTok’s CEO Chew Shou Zi made the headlines with talks of a S$86 million GCB purchase. The property is located at Queen Astrid Park and has a land area of 31,800 sqft.

Secretlab’s co-founder and CEO Ian Ang paid S$36 million for this GCB on Olive Road / Image Credit: EdgeProp Singapore

Just last month, crypto billionaire Zhu Su was said to be in early talks to purchase a GCB worth S$48.8 million at Yarwood Avenue in the Bukit Timah area.

GCB market activities

According to Sotheby’s International Realty, there were 53 deals in GCB areas totalling nearly S$1.4 billion in the first half of 2021. That’s almost twice the activity seen for the whole of 2020 which clinched 46 deals.

Stock market gains from last year might see a resurgence in GCB shopping for tech founders this year, albeit at a more muted pace due to the latest cooling measures from the Singapore government.

Image Credit: Insider

Singaporean property buyers now face higher Additional Buyer Stamp Duties (ABSD) of 17 per cent and 25 per cent for their second and third property purchase, respectively, as compared to 12 per cent and 15 per cent previously.

But alas, the supply for GCBs will continue to be limited and that makes these properties all the more luxurious and rare. There are only around 2,700 GCBs in Singapore.

Other tech founders who reportedly own GCBs in Singapore include Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma and Alibaba co-founder James Sheng.


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Featured Image Credit: The Peak, Tatler, Showsuite Consultancy and CBRE

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