Marina Bay fronting the new face of the CBD

MBFC offers a 24/7 work-live-play environment

THE first integrated development in the central business district, Marina Bay Financial Centre (MBFC), epitomises the Urban Redevelopment Authority's vision of a work-live-play environment.

"It is amazing to see how Marina Bay has transformed so rapidly with the completion of new iconic landmarks in recent years, galvanising shopping, entertainment and business all within one location," said Cynthia Wong, deputy chief executive officer of Raffles Quay Asset Management (RQAM).

RQAM manages Marina Bay Financial Centre (MBFC) and One Raffles Quay (ORQ).

"MBFC, Singapore's first and largest mixed-use integrated development within Marina Bay, is home to many well-known companies and offers a 24/7 work-live-play environment, making it a truly global business hub," she added.

Testament to the successful positioning of the project is the fact that MBFC Towers 1 and 2 were 100 per cent pre-let upon completion, and MBFC Tower 3 is more than 85 per cent leased.

Tower 3, with DBS bank as an anchor tenant, is seeing keen interest from commodity and legal firms. About 48.9 per cent of the building is occupied by financial institutions, while the legal community takes up about 14.9 per cent of the space. Energy and natural resources firms are the next largest group, occupying 7.5 per cent of the total net lettable area.

These firms include Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP, WongPartnership, and French oil and gas company Lynx Energy Trading Pte Ltd.

DBS, the anchor tenant of MBFC Tower 3, occupies 18 of its 46 storeys. It is also a stakeholder in the tower, following its purchase last December of a 30 per cent stake in Central Boulevard Development, a consortium that owns Tower 3.

"Many of our tenants have found it to be very convenient to be here; it is like a city within a city," said Ms Wong. "In addition, because of the scale of this project, some tenants often find that many of their key clients are located within the same development, whether in MBFC, or in our other development, One Raffles Quay, which is just a stone's throw away."

The residential component of MBFC, too, has had much success, with all 428 units at Marina Bay Residences sold out. The 221-unit Marina Bay Suites, which has yet to be officially launched and is expected to be completed later this year, is about 88 per cent sold.

MBFC's success is arguably a confluence of several factors, including the Monetary Authority of Singapore's five-year programme to liberalise the banking sector with the creation of the Qualifying Full Bank (QFB) status, a new category under the foreign banks category; the prime waterfront location; and a concerted effort to make the location green.

As part of the vision for the area to be a garden city by the bay, the Marina Centre, Collyer Quay and Bayfront areas are connected with a 3.5 km landscaped waterfront promenade. This is in addition to Gardens By the Bay, which occupies 101 ha of prime land.

Another draw is the retail component of MBFC, which offers a massive 179,000 sq ft of food & beverage, fashion and speciality shops. Elsewhere, a host of attractions surround the complex, including the Singapore Flyer, Esplanade-Theatres on the Bay and the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort which has 2,500 hotel rooms, a casino and close to one million sq ft of convention facilities.

Ms Wong said that the shareholders - HongkongLand, Keppel Land and Cheung Kong Holdings - are still on the lookout for suitable sites.

"Having done two iconic developments, ORQ and MBFC, I'm sure they will go along similar lines and look for locations that allow them to demonstrate their ability to build buildings that are the talk of the town," said Ms Wong.

MBFC celebrates its official opening on May 15. A commemorative book on the history of Marina Bay will be unveiled by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the event.

Source: Business Times, 14 May 2013