Garages in the Sky Give Singapore a Lift
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$9.8 million ($7.8 million) to S$30 million 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 percent of households in the city state of 5.1 million have wealth of US$1 million 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 10 to 30 percent 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 percent stamp duty. Overseas buyers, many from mainland China, made up nearly 43 percent 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 percent 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.