Watch this co-working space: Hot trend boosts office, retail market

New opportunities for landlords in office and retail market

The growth of co-working spaces has boosted the office and retail market and created new opportunities for landlords, say property watchers.

The rise of the gig economy is one factor feeding demand for such spaces, according to Ms Susan Sutherland, head of corporate solutions research for JLL Asia-Pacific.

Edmund Tie & Company head of research Lee Nai Jia noted late last month that this new way of working has helped to lift office occupancy and rents.

Rents ticked up by 2.4 per cent in the third quarter compared with the previous three months, Urban Redevelopment Authority data showed - a turnaround from the 1.1 per cent decline in the second quarter.

Dr Lee said: "We saw the co-working operators taking up much space in the newly completed buildings this year."

He pointed to home-grown JustCo's two-floor occupancy at the UIC building in Shenton Way and Hong Kong-based The Work Project's use of the entire fourth floor at OUE Downtown next door.

"Also, WeWork will operate in Beach Centre, which just completed its A&A (addition and alteration) works last year," Dr Lee added, referring to the arrival of the global co-working giant in Singapore.

JustCo founder Kong Wan Sing said: "More and more businesses shy away from the long tenancy and the hassle to fit out the space from renting with traditional landlords."

Indeed, the message seems to be: If you cannot beat them, join them. JLL Singapore head of consulting Chin Peidi said more landlords are expected to jump on the bandwagon.

"The winners would be the landlords that are able to capitalise on the trend to drive occupancy and footfall to their developments," she said.

One such shopping centre is Katong Point, where anchor tenant and creative co-working space Mox opened its doors last month, complete with amenities such as 3D printers and industrial-grade sewing machines.

The facility is a $1 million joint venture between retail and events management firm Invade and mall owner Buxani Group.

Mr Kishore Buxani, the property group's chief executive, said: "Over the last few years, the retail landscape in Singapore has deteriorated quickly and smaller traditional retail malls were becoming irrelevant.

"As a result, I realised that I had to be one step ahead and create something unique."