Tenders for a 1.5 million square foot site in the first phase of what will be Singapore's new central area will not be affected significantly by the regional economic downturn, government land agents say. 'Certainly, the mood is not as bullish and the degree of economic uncertainty has increased,' said Choi Chan Pong, director of land administration for the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the government's land sales agent. A marketing team, in Hong Kong yesterday to stir up interest in the project, said developer response in Singapore already was good and they expected similar interest from Hong Kong developers. Mr Choi denied their decision to come to Hong Kong was brought on by the downturn in the Singapore property market, where the residential and office markets have turned soft. 'There are a number of Singaporean developers who are working on proposals right now,' he said. They had come because Hong Kong developers seemed the most receptive in the region to Singapore projects. 'Cheung Kong is building there and so is Hongkong Land and Wheelock,' Mr Choi said. Property agents travelling with the roadshow said the Marina Bay site should fetch about S$1 billion (HK$4.69 billion), well within market expectations. Ong Teck Hui, director of consultancy and research with Colliers Jardine, said the eventual price would reflect the fact Singapore office prices had dropped about 30 per cent since 1995. Authority officials said they were confident developers would submit tenders because the long-term outlook for the Singaporean property market was good. Colliers Jardine officials said office rents would bottom out next year because of a lack of grade A office supply. The first phase of the project should come to market after 2002, they said. Authority officials said the Singapore Government would be cautious about releasing land for development in the 30 million sq ft site. The area incorporated a special zoning classification which allowed developers virtually unrestricted building rights once they acquired the site, the authority's urban planning head Andrew Fassam said. Developers would find it equally attractive because they would be able to redevelop the site later without having to pay a premium to the government, he said. Tenders for the project will close on April 2.