The Assembly Place taps market for student housing, opens 426-bed Telok Kurau campus

TAP plans to reach 2,000 beds in 2023. The Campus will have 426 rooms. TAP started offering 42 beds at 6 Duke’s Road back in February. Within six weeks, all rooms had been taken. TAP took possession of Feng Lai Mansion at 39 Lorong Geylang in early April. The 80-room building consists of a TAP managed apartment. TAP manages all the apartments in a co-living space. Two months after its debut, the entire apartment was occupied.

In the 18 Roberts Lane area, just off Serangoon Road is where renovations have started. TAP has also begun to take on 21 Lorong13 Geylang. TAP is managing the 55 rooms that will result from these two buildings.

TAP’s first Serviced Apartment Project, YMCA @ Stevens with 47 rooms, 27 units, and opened on March 20th. TAP Service Residences, @ River Valley (at 3 Tank Road) has launched its second serviced apartment project with 15 rooms. It launched its third serviced home at 18 Penhas Road in the middle this month.

TAP’s total number of beds includes 1,800 including Campus. It is planned to increase the number of beds from 1,800 in 2017 to 2,000 by 2020. Lim said that TAP had a cash flow surplus, but in order to increase its growth it would need to launch a new round of fund raising.

The Assembly Place launched the Campus by The Assembly Place TAP, its flagship student housing development at 116 Lorong J Telok Kurau. The project has 426 beds. Campus by TAP comprises two blocks, each with a total of 161 beds. Eugene Lim, TAP’s CEO and founder says “We want to bring the experience of co-living in student accommodation.”

A pre-marketing campaign that began 3 weeks ago has already resulted in over 120 beds being reserved for the smaller section of the block, while some students have moved in.

Other amenities include a residents’ lounge with air conditioning where movies are shown. An outdoor crossfit gymnasium also has air conditioning. Lim says, “As this land was so big, we made communal spaces to accommodate the students.”

The retrofitting cost the partners an additional 6 million dollars, which they invested over the course of three-and-ahalf months. This included replacing air conditioning systems, electrical, plumbing and casements windows. Nearly $1,000,000 was spent landscaping this vast site. Thanapong Boonyasiriwat Gong (Director of Ecoplan Asia) was the landscape designer.

Lim says “Since the site was purchased with a long-term lease (103 years), we were willing and able to increase our capital investment.” The SLA’s (Singapore Land Authority), which leases most of its sites, only offer a 9-year term. As a result, the amount invested in capital is limited.

EastLodge was a 120-room, student-only accommodation that operated at two adjacent blocks of the land before the property sold to the Apricot Capital/TAP joint venture. Telok Kurau Elementary School used to occupy the 1960s construction.

Lim will see an annual revenue of $4,000,000 when the buildings become fully leased.

TAP is not only interested in providing beds, but also programmes. These career discussions could cover the sports and science sector, the F&B industry or the tech world, depending on which programme the students are in.

Lim explains that “it’s essential to build community”. Mental wellbeing is crucial. Singapore is a lonely place for international students without parents and siblings. We need to offer programmes to allow international students to connect with other individuals.

Both blocks have a first-floor communal kitchen equipped with appliances, vending machines and ready-toeat meals such as instant noodles or milk. Second level, both blocks feature a common study space. In addition to a bedside study and a small wardrobe, each student also has their own corner. Toilets and showers are located on each level.

These students primarily come from China and Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia Myanmar Thailand Vietnam. Students are most often enrolled in James Cook University and Kaplan City Campus. Our property has been listed on the websites of 10 educational institutions. Lim tells us that we are targeting November enrollment.

Campus by TAP’s rooms are available in a range of configurations. Some rooms come with just two beds or three, but others have up to seven. Air conditioning is available in all rooms. The monthly average for a bed is $850. For premium beds, the rate can reach $1,600. Lim said that all of the larger block’s premium rooms were almost full.

Lim estimates that TAP membership is 55% younger than 30. This includes 65% of international students. Lim discovered that international student housing had a huge untapped market. Although most students live on a monthly budget less than $1000, they are still able to afford a co-living space. He determined that the typical monthly rental for a shared living space is between $1,500 and $2,000 which was out of reach. He therefore decided to research the Singapore housing market.

Lim says: “When studying the marketplace to find out what’s on offer, it was quite a shock.” “We still lag behind when it comes to types of student accommodations that we provide here in comparison with those in the UK. US and Australia.

Rarely are large properties with shared facilities available as student housing. Knight Frank, a property management company, launched a tender for the Lorong J Telok Kurau area in September 2020. At the conclusion of the bids the following month, there were more than 15.

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The highest bid was from TAP in conjunction with Apricot Capital. Apricot Capital runs the family offices of David Teo and the founders of Super Group. For a 103 year lease, the price was set at $40 million. Apricot Capital controls the majority in the venture while TAP owns the remaining stake. TAP also operates the students accommodation. The Presbyterian Church of Singapore has sold the property to The Trustees of the Presbyterian Church. The Presbyterian Church still holds the underlying 999year lease.

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