Singapore's 'parking lot in the sky' looks to drive luxury demand
It's a conundrum only the very wealthiest Singaporeans need worry about.
Where should you park your multi-million dollar sports car when you live in a luxury apartment block?
The ambitious Hamilton Scotts residential building in the tiny Asian city-state seeks to aim high when answering this question.
The property's standout feature is the "parking lot in the sky" -- a flash characteristic that enables residents to bring their vehicles into the center of their homes no matter which floor they live on.
"Basically the way we conceived the parking lot in the sky was that you would park your beloved toy ... and it (would) became part of the living room ensemble," said Calvin Sim Chen-Min, the project's director.
The aim is for the car to be "almost a piece of furniture that from the living room you could admire like a piece of artwork," he added.
An automotive showpiece
Residents drive their cars into the basement and park it on a moveable metal plate before entering a code or giving a fingerprint which sets the process into motion.
The car then moves into an elevator shaft that transports it to one of the 56 units in the apartment building's 36 floors.
Sliding into place in the relevant living room, each apartment's sky garage can house two cars.
It's a feature that's more about the aesthetics over convenience since residents are unable to ride in their cars up to their apartment.
Still, it's an automotive showpiece that aims to drive Hamilton Scotts right to the top of Singapore's luxury sector.
Built right before the financial crash of 2008, Hamilton Scotts found itself moving from a peak property market to a struggling one.
Management of the building was taken over by the China-based investment company Reignwood Group in 2013 as it saw long term promise in the property and the local market.
"Singapore is really the central hub for all of Asia," said Tom Tang, managing director of Reignwood Singapore.
"This is somewhere where we needed to find an iconic building as a way of broadening our group name ... as well as developing our business," he added.
Reignwood gave Hamilton Scotts a minor facelift and added amenities, including free breakfast for residents every day, to help boost its profile further.
Occupancy is currently at 70% with prices for a 256-square-meter (2,755 square-foot) unit starting at $10 million.
Yet according to Karamjit Singh, international director of real estate specialists Jones Lang LaSalle, Singapore's luxury property sector remains off the pace.
"Prices have come off substantially and it's probably the one segment of the market that's facing some degree of distress," Singh said. "All in all prices have come off 20% to 30% from their peak in 2007."
Singh admits that the luxury sector's travails are "a bit odd" given the country's strong economic indicators.
Singapore is well known for having the highest per capita GDP in the world while one in ten households contains a millionaire, according to the Boston Consulting Group's Global Wealth report.
"It has always been compared with Hong Kong and there are a lot of parallels. But it's trading below half of Hong Kong's real estate prices in the luxury market," Singh said.
"There are a combination of factors (for this) but the key central would be government policies and a very focused glut of supply focused around the luxury market."
Those who have invested in luxury properties like Hamilton Scotts can only hope their fortunes can be driven back to the top by the likes of the parking lot in the sky.