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The Force is strong with Lucasfilm’s Singapore HQ

Blackstone is in talks to buy the architecturally curious building from Disney-owned Lucasfilm, as part of the firm’s strategy to invest in suburban business park properties in Asia

If the Sandcrawler building could talk, it would probably open with: “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”. That’s because the building is the Singapore home of Lucasfilm, the production company responsible for the Star Wars movie franchise – and is so named for its resemblance to the eponymous transport ship featured in the much-beloved sci-fi movies.

Blackstone is in talks to buy the architecturally curious building from Disney-owned Lucasfilm. While the deal is pending regulatory approval, the private equity real estate giant is understood to be offering about S$175 million ($132 million; €109 million) for the asset. The deal would be part of the firm’s strategy to invest in suburban business park properties in Asia. Elsewhere in the region, Blackstone has invested in business parks in India with local developer Embassy Group, for example.

But this nine-story building features office space, a retail shopping area, a “Yoda fountain” and a 100-seat theater fronted by a “giant shiny black version of Darth Vader’s helmet.”

It houses multiple digital production capabilities, as well. Currently, the complex is Disney’s largest base in South-East Asia, home to Lucasfilm’s visual effects and animation studio, Industrial Light and Magic Singapore, as well as serving as the production house’s regional headquarters. According to Singapore’s Business Times, the office is over 90 percent occupied.

Completed in 2013, it was officially opened by George Lucas, founder of Lucasfilm and creator of the Star Wars franchise, and the country’s prime minister Lee Hsien Loong. The animation company had just signed a 30-year leasehold for the site in 2010 with an option for a 30-year extension.

Located in One-North district, the building neighbors other digital and media businesses including Canon, Oracle and Fox Networks. Indeed, the district has been packaged by Singapore’s government as a global tech hub to house biomedical sciences, information and communications technology and media industries.

Apart from Blackstone, one of the country’s biggest developers CapitaLand is also actively scouting for opportunities in the One-North district. Last year, it announced a $400 million development plan to build Rochester Commons, a 400,000-square-foot research and knowledge campus expected to complete in the fourth quarter this year. Evidently, the force is strong here for private real estate firms.

Timeline

2010 Lucasfilm signs 30-year lease for the Sandcrawler with option to extend another 30 years

2012 Disney acquires Lucasfilm in October for $2.2 billion in cash and $1.85 billion in stock

2013 Complex is officially opened with a launch attended by George Lucas and prime minister Lee Hsien Loong

2014 Building wins ‘Design of the Year’ at the Singapore Design Awards

2021 Blackstone in talks with Disney to purchase the asset for S$175 million