The Assembly Place taps into the student housing industry, launching a new 426 bed Campus in Telok Kurau

The Assembly Place is launching its 426 bed premium student accommodation project at 116 Lorong J Telok Kurau. Campus by TAP consists of two blocks spread over 104.46 sq ft: A three-storey building with 161 rooms and a four-storey building with 265 bedrooms. Eugene Lim from TAP, the company’s founder and CEO says: “We will bring co-living experiences to students accommodation.”

Pre-marketing began about three weeks ago. Over 120 beds of the smaller block have been booked and students are already in residence.

They are predominantly from China as well as countries of Southeast Asia like Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand. Many of these students attend James Cook University and Kaplan City Campus. Others are studying at Singapore University of Technology and Design and Singapore University of Technology and Design. The MOUs have been signed with 14 education institutions. 10 of them have also listed the property in their online listings. Lim explains that the goal is to have November’s enrolments.

Campus by TAP has different room types. The premium rooms have either two or even three beds, whereas the others are four, seven or six beds. Each room is air-conditioned. The average cost per bed in a monthly rental is $850. However, premium beds go for as much as $1,600. Lim reports that premium rooms within the smaller building are almost fully occupied.

Included in the amenities are an air-conditioned lounge for residents where they can view movies. Also included is an outdoor crossfit gym that has an air-conditioned area. A basketball court can be converted to a five-aside game of soccer. Lim says that because of the large land area, they created communal spaces.

The first floor in each block is equipped with a shared dining area, social kitchen with vending machines that sell ready-to eat meals, instant noodle and milk. The second level in both blocks has a study room. Every student has a separate study area, next to their beds and wardrobes. There are toilets for both men and women on every floor.

Lim reports that TAP is composed of 55% people aged 30 and under. 65 percent of them are international students. Lim saw that the market for international housing was under-served. But most students only have a budget for housing of $1,000 or less per month. He concluded that the rental price of co-living spaces, which ranges from $1,500 up to $2,000 per month is too expensive for most students. He then decided to look into the Singapore international housing market further.

Lim says, “When i started to study the market for what’s available, I was in shock.” The types of accommodation we provide for students is still far behind what’s available in Australia and the US.

Only a few sites large enough to accommodate communal facilities are up for grabs as student accommodation. Knight Frank sold the Lorong J Telok Kurau site in September 20,22. The following month, the Knight Frank tender closed with more than fifteen bids.

The winning bid was made by a joint venture formed between TAP Capital and Apricot Capital. Apricot Capital belongs to David Teo’s family, who is founder of Super Group Instant Beverages. The price paid was $40m ($383psf), for a lease of 103 years. Apricot Capital is the major shareholder in this joint venture. TAP has the minority share and operates the student accommodation. The Presbyterian Church of Singapore (The Trustees of the Presbyterian Church of Singapore) is the vendor. It still has the underlying 999 years lease.

The partners in the joint venture invested an additional six million dollars over three and a half months, on top of the forty million dollars they paid for the land. This involved replacing the plumbing, air-conditioning systems, electrical systems and casement Windows. A landscaping project of this size cost almost $1 million. Thanapong Boonyasiriwat was landscape architect at Ecoplan Asia.

Lim explains that since we acquired this site under a 103-year contract, we felt more comfortable investing in capital. Most SLA [Singapore Land Authority] properties are leased for only nine years. This limits how much people are willing invest in their capital.

It was previously known as EastLodge. This 120-room accommodation for students operated in two buildings on site. Telok Kurau was housed by the 1960s building.

Lim estimates that he will earn about $4 million per year when his buildings are fully operational and leased.

TAP plans to offer students more than beds. They could offer career talks about the tech industry, sports science, F&B or F&B, based on student interests and programmes.

Lim adds, “It’s important to establish a community.” Mental health is essential. Singapore’s international students can feel alone without their siblings or parents. The programmes should allow the students to communicate with each other.

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TAP expects to end the year 2023 with 2,004 beds including 426 on campus. TAP began offering 42 rooms on 6 Duke’s Road this February. The rooms were all taken in six weeks. TAP took control of the Feng Lai Mansion (an 80-room apartment complex at Lorong 30 Geylang) in April. TAP manages co-living apartments. In just two months from the start of TAP, all rooms had been taken.

Construction has begun on 18 Roberts Lane near Serangoon Road. This is the old Goodland Building. TAP’s next building to be taken over by TAP will be 21 Lorong 13. Geylang. TAP will be managing 55 rooms between the two properties.

TAP’s first serviced-apartment project, YMCA@ Stevens opened mid-March, with 27 units. TAP Service Residences @ River Valley with 15 bedrooms was launched at 3 Tank Road. The middle of the month saw the launch of a third residence, 18 Penhas Road.

TAP now has over 1,800 beds. This includes those in the new Campus. TAP aims to achieve 2,000 bed by the end 2023. And 3,000 bed by 2024. Lim says that TAP’s cash-flow is positive but, in order to turbocharge its growth, it will require another round fund-raising.

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