YTL Land aims for 'one-of-a-kind homes'

The Straits Times, June 24, 2013


[SINGAPORE] YTL Land and Development's pro-jects in Singapore will be "one-of-a-kind homes" that serve discerning buyers, said its vice president Joseph Yeoh.

In his first interview with Singapore media in his current role last Friday, Mr Yeoh, who leads the Singapore property portfolio, said this is part of a three-fold strategy.

"The first thing is to create and design one-of-a-kind homes for our discerning buyers," he said.

The second is to expand the portfolio, and the third is to commit to best practices and add value to projects the company undertakes.

Mr Yeoh was speaking at an interview in one of the units at Sandy Island in Sentosa Cove, the developer's first project here that was launched in 2008.

The development comprises 18 villas of 7,500-9,200 square feet and was designed by Claudio Silvestrin, the man behind Giorgio Armani's flagship stores worldwide.

According to caveats lodged with the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), the latest unit that changed hands was a 7,774 sq ft home that sold for $17.8 million, or $2,290 per square foot (psf).

Each villa at Sandy Island is unique in its layout and furnishings, complete with individual boat berths and underground garages. The design has helped it pick up several awards, such as the FIABCI Prix d'Excellence and the Best Architectural Design (South East Asia) at the South East Asia Property Awards.

"We love to design award-winning homes," said Mr Yeoh, the son of Francis Yeoh - the man who helms the sprawling YTL Corporation.

Also in YTL Land's portfolio here is another project nestled in Sentosa Cove. Launched in 2010, Kasara The Lake has 13 bungalows between 9,000 and over 14,000 sq ft. The last transacted unit, at 9,042 sq ft, fetched $20 million, or $2,212 psf, URA data show.

Up next for YTL Land in Singapore will be its luxury condominium project at Orchard Boulevard, which will be ready for preview next year.

The company bought the site which housed what was Westwood Apartments for $435 million, or $2,525 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr) in 2007, and will redevelop it as a 78-unit apartment.

Keeping with its emphasis on design, YTL Land has engaged Antonio Citterio, the designer and architect for the Bulgari Hotels in Bali, London and Milan.

The launch date and price have not been revealed. Nearby, St Regis Residences and the Marq on Paterson Hill have sold for anywhere from $2,111 psf to $6,840 psf, going by URA data.

The company's strategy has paid dividends so far.

All but one unit at Sandy Island have been sold, and Kasara was fully sold three months into its launch.

Asked about the reasons for YTL Land's success, Mr Yeoh shared an analogy on why his Sunday-league football team, which he manages and plays for, has done well. "It's not a team of superstars; it's a team of people who want to work for each other."

This same principle applies to YTL Land, he added.

On a personal level, the fourth-generation scion subscribes to a few key tenets. This includes listening to feedback and working from the ground up.

"I think education or historical learning will only take you so far."

Another is humility, a well-known trait of the Yeoh family.

"We should be humble because we have a lot of things to be humble about," said Mr Yeoh. There is no "Gatsby-style party" at the Yeoh household, he added.

Mr Yeoh also feeds off his father's passion for business and humility, as demonstrated when the elder Yeoh went in person to convince various famous food stall owners in Kuala Lumpur to set up shop at the Lot 10 mall, as part of an effort to get some of the best food under one roof.