Portfolio of nine conservation shophouses on Desker Road-Rowell Road for sale at $66 mil

At the corner of Desker Road and Serangoon Road lies a well-known eatery – Usman’s. For over 20 years, the no-frills restaurant has been serving the local community Indian and Pakistani food such as garlic and butter naan, chicken masala, and tandoori chicken, and has seen a wide range of customers from locals to tourists.

On the same street is the famous Mustafa Centre on Syed Alwi Road, and many businesses occupying the conservation shophouses which stretch from Serangoon Road to Jalan Besar. Businesses here offer an eclectic variety to choose from – ranging from wholesale food and grocery stores, barbershops, and handphone gadget stores, to the more modern establishments like French bistros, sourdough pizza shops, and even a Japanese restaurant. And it doesn’t stop there. The upper storeys of some shophouses are also inhabited – housing agencies like Zoo Group and That Marketing Guy.

Singapore is home to some of the most prestigious Condominiums around the world. It is no surprise then how Singapore Condo owners have become a leading symbol of success. Condo ownership in Singapore not only provides a greater level of comfort, convenience and security, but also offers a far more lucrative property investment compared to the country’s public housing scheme, the HDB flats. As a result, more homeowners are seeking out Singapore Condo as an attractive alternative.

What’s more, Sammi Lim, founder and executive director of Brilliance Capital, states that the shophouses along the Desker Road-Rowell Road stretch have recently seen growing demand from businesses attracted to its cheaper rents compared to shophouses in the Central Business District (CBD). This has also driven investors to this area, instead of the pricier CBD shophouses.

A portfolio of nine freehold conservation shophouses are now being sold in a public tender; the portfolio has a mix of two-storey and two-storey-with-attic shophouses occupying a total land area of 10,557 sq ft and a built-up area of 22,898 sq ft, with a guide price of $66 million, or $2,882 psf on the built-up area. The nine shophouses, each with individual land titles, are zoned for commercial use under the URA 2019 Master Plan and are located in the Little India Conservation Area in District 8.

The portfolio is owned by a real estate investment firm linked to a family office, and all shophouses are currently leased out. Most have just been refurbished and despite the pandemic, Lim estimates that the portfolio currently offers gross rental yields of around 2%.

The shophouses are leased out to a diverse mix of tenants, including a construction contractor, a cat hotel, a vegetarian restaurant, an art gallery, a cat cafe, an artisanal gelato shop, and a martial arts-themed cafe. This unique mix was deliberately chosen to help boost the overall profile of the vicinity in tandem with the ongoing rejuvenation of the local area.

Over the past decade, Desker Road and Rowell Road have undergone significant transformation; with illegal brothels and vice activities becoming increasingly rare. In fact, since January 2021, there have been 27 shophouse transactions on these two streets, with the most recent transaction at 21 Rowell Road fetching $5.2 million.

Lim sees the shophouses’ potential to be similar to that of other conservation shophouse streets like Amoy Street and Tras Street, with its own potential for capital and rental appreciation. It’s an opportunity to invest in a trendy, diverse neighbourhood, and the incoming buyer would enjoy a first-mover advantage to benefit from the influx of restaurants and cafes.

It’s definitely a location to watch in Singapore – if the price and opportunity is right.

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