If you haven’t heard of the Jurong Lake District, you probably don’t know that there are exciting things afoot in this part of the woods. Jurong has been known to be the boondocks of Singapore, an industrial area with not much in the way of lifestyle and entertainment. Even with Jurong Point, one of the biggest heartland malls, that image hasn’t really changed much. Talk about Jurong, and most property investors will switch off, most Easties will give blank looks, and even self-professed Westies may give you dirty looks if you talk to them about Jurong. Yes, it’s really THAT unexciting, BUT all this is poised to change with the development of the new Lake District. In case you’re thinking that this is something new, the Jurong Lake District project has been mooted since the 1991 Concept Plan, but was only fleshed out in the 2008 Master Plan. So to bring you up to speed, here is a comprehensive guide to the transformation of boring old Jurong into the exciting new Jurong Lake District.
Let’s start by going to the official URA website:
Quick summary of the URA websites: The government is building up the Jurong area as a regional commercial centre in order to bring jobs closer to homes. The Jurong Lake District is made up of the Lakeside area nearer to Lakeside MRT and the Gateway area centred around Jurong East MRT. The Gateway area spans about 70 ha, to be used for offices, hotels, F&B and entertainment. The Lakeside area spans 290 ha, and will house a lakeside village, boardwalks, hotels and other entertainment facilities.
A quick list of facilities/buildings already built, being constructed or planned:
J Cube (formerly Jurong Entertainment Centre), redeveloped and opened 2011, operated by CapitaMalls Asia
Jem, in construction and expected to open in 2013, developed by Lend Lease
Westgate, comprising a 7-storey mall and a 20-storey office tower, just broke ground and is expected to open in 2014, developed by Capitaland
The malls have been able to attract brand names like Franc Franc (J Cube), Robinson’s (Jem) and H&M (Jem) as anchor tenants, which attests to both the strength of the operators’ brand names and also the retailers’ confidence in buying power in the heartlands. Capitaland, in particular, has spoken quite vocally of their belief and commitment in the Lake District project. They are reportedly considering moving their office to Westgate Tower after they build it.
None confirmed yet, but expected to have at least one beside the lake (sounds nice!) and one near to the Science Centre and Jurong Country Club (tender currently open). Within the commercial area itself, I suspect there will be at least one more when the area fills up, but probably not just yet.
Other than the ones already in the area, Caspian is expected to TOP in Q3 this year, while Lakefront Residences is expected to TOP in 2013. Current estimates for additional private homes in the Gateway area is about 1,000. MCL Land recently won a bid for a residential site near the Jurong East MRT, which is expected to yield 590 homes at a breakeven price of $1,150 – $1,200 psf, according to Nicholas Mak from SLP International.
Other private developments in the area include Parc Oasis, The Mayfair, Ivory Heights, The Lakeshore, Lakeholmz, Parc Vista, Summerdale and The Centris. With more activity in the area, there should be higher demand for housing, bringing up prices and rents at all these developments.
Water sports centre
A 24 km network of park connectors linking Jurong Lake to Bukit Batok
Bridges linking the different “islands” in Jurong Lake and to the Gateway area
2 hospitals (Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and Jurong Community Hospital)
Renewal and expansion of the Science Centre
All in all, there are many changes coming to the area. However, the developments will not occur overnight. There is much inertia for companies to move from the city to go to Jurong, especially in the early days, but relatively lower rent will help ease the pain. After all, Tampines took 10 – 15 years to build itself up as a regional centre, and property prices have gone up in response. It’s expected that Jurong will take around that time to become a full-fledged commercial centre as well. According to some fengshui masters, Jurong has been in a bad luck cycle, but the luck should turn in the 10 – 15 years it takes to build it up. So whether you believe in the government’s ability to generate growth in the heartlands, or the developers’ confidence in the area, or geomancy, it looks like Jurong’s turn in the sun is not far off.
Disclaimer: I own investment property in the Jurong area and, although I have tried to remain objective, I will indubitably benefit if prices and rents in the area go up.