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Shophouse for Office Rental: Everything You Need to Know

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Singapore Central Business District with shophouses (source: Guocoland)
Heritage shophouses against the backdrop of modern skyscraper buildings in Tanjong Pagar (Source: GuocoLand)

Singapore shophouses are a vernacular architectural treasure created by immigrants between the early-1800s and mid 1900s. As old as it may sound, many of these shophouses have been revitalized and repurposed for modern, contemporary use for office space, in food, retail and even leisure stay.

Limited supply of Shophouses

There are less than 7,000 shophouses and only around 1,500 shophouses in the Central Business District, Singapore. With the backdrop of tight office supply and rising rents in the Central Business District, the demand for heritage shophouses continues to appeal businesses to rent for office space use.

Shophouses along Amoy Street (Source: Silkroad)
Shophouses along Amoy Street (Source: Silkroad)

Architectural Characteristics of Shophouses

From the front façade of the low rise shophouse, you can easily identify its iconic features- the pitched roof with unglazed natural colour clay tiles, narrow five-foot way sheltered walkway and timbered windows on the upper storey are either French windows with internal balustrades or casement windows with timber shutters.

Its long narrow profile comes with air well that opens directly to the sky to bring natural lighting to the interior.

Singapore shophouse architectural structure
Key elements of a typical Shophouse (source: Urban Redevelopment Authority, Singapore)

Some of the shophouses may come with lift access while most kept to their long narrow staircase access to the upper storey.

Singapore Shophouse Styles
Singapore’s Shophouse style (source: Urban Redevelopment Authority, Singapore)

Why choose Shophouse for office space use

There is a significant and rising number of coworking spaces in Central Business District. However, the charm of choosing shophouse for office space remains for boutique financial companies or tech firms who prefer the unique blend of rich cultural heritage and vibe to fit their branding personality.  Also, they enjoy the added privacy, control of the space and branding in their own office. Definitely, it is more ideal to host your own clients and visitors without the need to beat other coworking colleagues in booking meeting room.

In terms of cost, the rental pricing for shophouses in Central Business District ranges from $5.50 psf onwards, depending on the location, interior condition, floor level and if it comes with lift access. This is significantly lower than the typical rental price in a Grade A building nearby and might work out only slightly more expensive to having your own private room in a coworking space.

If you want to evaluate the options of renting your own office space versus going for coworking space, simply get in touch with us here.

Here are 3 key things to know when leasing a shophouse for office use

1. Allowable Property Use for Singapore Shophouses

In Singapore, Shophouses can be used for many things such as offices, restaurants, stores, etc. A professional commercial real estate advisor will help you find out the allowable and last approved uses for all shophouses in Singapore – it is based on planning guidelines and records at the date of enquiry.

See the local authority, Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) considerations for property use.

Change of property use might be required depending on the current authority’s approved use and your intended business use. Also, it is subjected to the landlord and authority’s approval.

You should cater some time for the lengthy approval process for change of property use, if this is required.

2. Restrictions and Rules on Renovations

Ever wonder why so many Shophouses still have that beloved, historical look? For conserved shophouses, the URA has imposed regulation to preserve these heritage buildings. This means you can do whatever designing and renovating you want on the inside, but the outside needs to remain the same.

Historic districts with conserved shophouses include:

  • Boat Quay
  • Chinatown
  • Kampong Glam
  • Little India
  • Blair Plain
  • Cairnhill
  • Emerald Hill

There are two types of shophouses in Singapore:

  • Primary conservation
    • State area, fixed Gross Floor Area and façade
  • Secondary conservation
    • State area, Gross Floor Area and façade changes are subject to approval. Do cater time out for lengthy approval time.

Some landlords may include these requirements in the fit-out guide, but always check with Authority (ie. BCA, URA) signage for façade design. Always refer to the URA guide and engage contractors and designers who have prior experience with shophouses, as this will always be a plus.

Keep in mind that you should try to reduce operating costs for your new office setup.

3. Location vs Rental

The rental cost is subjected to the location of the shophouse- the better the location and nearby amenities, the higher the rent will be. However, having a better location will help business to a certain extent in attracting the right clientele and talent.

Highlighted Singapore streets with shophouse available for office rent. Amoy Street, Club Street, Tanjong Pagar Road, Tras Street, Cross Street and many more.
Highlighted prime shophouses in Raffles Place, Tanjong Pagar and Chinatown Area (source: Google Map)

Shophouse available for rent at prime location

These are prime locations where you could spot shophouse close to nearby MRT stations like Raffles Place, Tanjong Pagar, Telok Ayer and Chinatown with plentiful of F&B options. Approximately floor size may range from 600 sqft to 2,900 sqft :

Whether you are a tech startup, SME or a mature company in any industries, spaceSense and our exclusive partner, SAKAL Real Estate Partners  dedicate a professional team to take care your office leasing and help you engage the qualified designer to fit out your new space.

Armed with decades of real estate market knowledge, experience and network, our priority is to fulfill your needs and support your business growth.

Best of all, our end-to-end service comes with no charges because landlords pay us the fees out from their marketing budget. Yup, you do not incur any extra cost to engage our online and offline services.


Interested to rent shophouse in prime location?
Get in touch for viewings.

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