MBS gets URA approval to build 587-room fourth tower, down from previous 1,000-room plan

Published: Jan 31, 2024 by 
PropertyGiant Singapore
An artist’s impression of Marina Bay Sands’ fourth tower. PHOTO: MARINA BAY SANDS
An artist’s impression of Marina Bay Sands’ fourth tower. PHOTO: MARINA BAY SANDS

Marina Bay Sands (MBS) has received approval from the authorities to develop a fourth tower, paving the way for a planned expansion of the integrated resort to be carried out.

According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) data for commercial projects with development approvals as at the end of the fourth quarter of 2023, MBS was given the green light for a hotel and retail development next to its current three towers on an empty plot that is flanked by Bayfront Avenue, Sheares Avenue and Sheares Link.

URA’s data, released on Jan 26, indicates that the new tower will have 153,100 sq m of hotel space over 587 rooms and 12,185 sq m of retail space.

MBS previously announced in April 2019 that its fourth tower would house 1,000 all-suite rooms.

Asked about the discrepancy in room numbers, MBS declined to give more information.

The integrated resort, which opened in April 2010, currently has a gross floor area of 581,400 sq m, including about 1,850 rooms and suites and about 74,000 sq m of retail and dining space.

On Jan 24, parent company Las Vegas Sands (LVS) said in its earnings presentation for the fourth quarter of 2023 that “the budget and timing of the MBS expansion are subject to revision based upon the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and other factors”.

LVS added that project costs are expected to “meaningfully exceed” the initial US$3.3 billion (S$4.5 billion) estimates – inclusive of land – that were made in 2019, due to “inflation, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, higher labour and material costs, and other factors”.

Design, development and programming work for the fourth tower “remain ongoing, with a focus on increasing the leisure and business tourism appeal of Singapore and MBS”, LVS said.

It was reported in March 2023 that MBS had been given until April 8, 2024, to commence construction for the expansion – the second extension of a construction deadline under a development agreement LVS signed with the Singapore Tourism Board in April 2019.

MBS now has until April 8, 2028, to complete its fourth tower, on land it has leased until August 2066.

The tower is to comprise all-suite rooms, and will be accompanied by a live performance arena that seats at least 15,000 spectators, as well as additional Mice (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) capacity and luxury retail offerings.

An artist’s impression of the 15,000-seat arena to be built as part of MBS’ expansion, that was released in April 2019. PHOTO: MARINA BAY SANDS

A sky roof with a swimming pool and “other tourist attractions” will top the new tower, said LVS.

When ongoing upgrades to MBS’ three existing hotel towers are completed in 2025, the resort will have 770 suites among its 1,850 rooms, prior to the addition of the fourth tower’s planned 587 suites.

Mr Christopher Khoo, managing director of hospitality consultancy MasterConsult Services, said the increase in suite numbers will allow MBS and Singapore to “aim at the upper end of the scale for visitors”, which he noted was among the goals of building integrated resorts in the country.

“We are not just filling rooms cheaply to boost overall numbers, and MBS’ plans seem to confirm this thinking,” said Mr Khoo. “The boost in suite numbers indicates that MBS is still expected to be attractive enough to entice high-spending guests, and that is good news overall for Singapore.”

URA’s approval of MBS’ development plans follows the agency’s approval in the third quarter of 2023 of an expansion to Resorts World Sentosa (RWS).

RWS has permission from URA to erect a hotel and retail development at Sentosa Gateway, comprising 66,995 sq m of hotel space over 700 rooms, and 21,243 sq m of retail space.

RWS’ parent company Genting Singapore said in November 2023 that the waterfront development’s construction will begin in 2024, and that its board had approved an investment of about $6.8 billion to expand and rejuvenate the integrated resort, up from the $4.5 billion it had originally committed in April 2019.

An artist’s impression of RWS’ new waterfront development, which it will begin construction on in 2024. PHOTO: RESORTS WORLD SENTOSA

In the first 11 months of 2023, Singapore received 12.37 million visitors, about twice the 6.31 million who visited in 2022.

Annual visitorship hit a record 19.12 million in 2019, a number the country has yet to return to since the pandemic.

Also receiving development approvals from URA in the last quarter of 2023 was the Ministry of Education, for an office and retail development in North Buona Vista Drive.

The development is to have 58,627 sq m of office space and 762 sq m of retail space.

Responding to queries, a ministry spokesman said the development is the Goh Keng Swee Centre for Education, which Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced at the National Day Rally in 2010.

“This is a building adjacent to the MOE Building at North Buona Vista Drive and is meant to accommodate the Academy of Singapore Teachers and specialist academies for the professional development of our in-service teachers, as well as MOE office spaces,” said the spokesman, who added that more information will be announced when ready.

Editor’s note: This story has been edited for clarity.

Credit : THE STRAITS TIMES

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