Garages in the sky give Singapore a lift

Luxury development in Singapore now offering sky-high garages.

Story highlights

  • A Singapore property developer is targeting the super rich with parking problems
  • Luxury apartments that allow owners to keep their cars on the top floor of the 30-storey block
  • Features what are described as "en suite sky garages" that automatically transport cars
  • Prices for the 56 apartments range from S$9.8m ($7.8m) to S$30m for a penthouse
A Singapore property developer is targeting the super rich with parking problems by marketing luxury apartments that allow owners to keep their cars next to their living rooms, even if they are on the top floor of the 30-storey block.
The development, near the city-state's main thoroughfare of Orchard Road, features what are described as "en suite sky garages" that automatically transport cars in a lift up to the desired level at the touch of a biometric pad in the basement entrance.
"It's done in such a way that it's a museum showcase, it's not just a car park," says Leny Suparman, chief executive of KOP Properties, the developer, that is unashamedly targeting a growing number of millionaires in Singapore who own "supercars".
Prices for the 56 apartments range from S$9.8m ($7.8m) to S$30m for a penthouse with space to park four cars.
The launch of the project -- the first of its kind in Asia -- may make sense in a country that boasts the highest density of millionaire households in the world. Boston Consulting Group estimates that more than 17 per cent of households in the city state of 5.1m have wealth of US$1m or higher.
Singapore, along with Hong Kong, is home to more Maseratis, Ferraris and Lamborghinis per capita than anywhere else in the world.
Yet the launch of the development comes amid clear signs that the super rich are feeling the pinch as the global economy suffers.
According to Savills, the property consultants, the onset of the eurozone crisis has helped push prices of luxury homes in Singapore down by about 30 per cent recently.
Figures released recently showing that Singapore's manufacturing sector recorded its slowest year-on-year growth underscore the city-state's vulnerability to the global downturn.
Luxury property sales also have been hit by the imposition eight months ago of a 10 per cent stamp duty. Overseas buyers, many from mainland China, made up nearly 43 per cent of all luxury home sales last year.
Orchard Road has some of the most expensive property in Singapore, with 4,000 luxury condominiums completed over the past year, according to Savills, the property management group. Yet 16 per cent of these are still unsold. Some developers have handed out perks such as rental guarantees and furniture vouchers to attract buyers.
Colin Syn, vice-chairman of the Singapore Grand Prix and who owns Ferrari dealerships in Singapore, said sales this year are "a little bit down".
"I think it's the economy. People are more cautious now," he said.
However Mr Syn said the rich were still buying as long as new models were on offer. His order book for the upcoming Ferrari F12 Berlinetta was "booked solid" until the end of next year.
The weakening economy has not discouraged rival British supercar maker McLaren, which set up its first showroom in Singapore in February.
UK investment bankers prefer Singapore
By Daniel Schäfer, FT.com
Almost a third of UK-based investment bankers would rather work in Singapore, according to a survey that predicts that the centre of gravity in the financial sector will shift towards Asia in the next decade.
The southeast-Asian city state has become the most favoured location for investment bankers who are based in London, research by financial services recruitment firm Astbury Marsden shows.
Of the 462 investment bankers that were asked, 31 per cent said they would most like to work in Singapore. By comparison, only a fifth preferred New York and only 19 per cent opted in favour of London.
In the year before, 22 per cent named London as their preferred location, underlining how the British capital has lost some appeal among investment bankers amid tighter regulation and a clampdown on bonuses.
"A fast growing, low tax and bank friendly environment like Singapore stands as a perfect antidote to the comparatively high tax and anti-banker sentiment of London and New York," said Mark Cameron, chief operating officer at Astbury Marsden.
"Far more London-based bankers are now more willing and able to relocate the 6,700 miles to Singapore."
US and European investment banks have in the past decade invested heavily in buildingtheir Asian operations, hiring thousands and setting up offices across the continent.
This year, US bank JPMorgan Chase even moved its global head of investment banking coverage from New York to Hong Kong as part of its push into Asia.
While some banks pay their Asian staff in line with global standards, many reward them with higher salaries than in Europe given the better growth prospects, according to research by Egon Zehnder International, the executive search firm. Bankers in mainland China are at a particular premium.
The continent's largest economy is seen as the main growth driver in the region. In the past year, it accounted for three quarters of Asia's investment banking revenues excluding Japan, data from JPMorgan shows.
But so far, the continent has failed to live up to expectations, with only one fifth of global investment banking revenues being made in Asia ex-Japan.
With profits coming under pressure, a number of banks have even slashed jobs during the past year.
But one senior US investment banker said his bank had stopped moving people over to London at the same time as it continued to send people to Singapore and other Asian cities.
He added that if a proposed cap on bonuses comes into force in the European Union, the bank would consider relocating some of its senior staff from London to Asia.
In the survey, three fifths of the bankers expect the Asia-Pacific region to become the biggest financial services centre in ten years' time, while only one fifth forecast that to be the case for London.