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New CBD in Jurong to offer flexible spaces for future economy

URA unveils third precinct, which will be home to the KL-Singapore High Speed Rail terminus

Aerial view of the Lakeside Gateway site. Singapore's second Central Business District will comprise high-quality office space with mixed uses and be surrounded by clusters of business parks.


SINGAPORE'S second central business (CBD) district, the Jurong Lake District (JLD), will feature adaptable spaces for the future economy, given that business cycles will be shorter, and that businesses will have to adopt rapidly emerging technologies and more flexible business models.

CBRE's managing director of industrial and logistics for Asia, Dennis Yeo, welcomed the announcement by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Monday about the approach taken in the master planning of the JLD.

He said: "Flexibility in real estate solutions will be vital in the new economy and help fill the gap for companies that do not qualify to use Business 1 (light industrial) space currently because they do not have manufacturing activities for instance; at the same time, they don't need to be in an office building either."

Such occupiers may find rentals of office space too high and the set-up too restrictive for creative juices to flow.

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"The Internet of Things will spawn a lot of new businesses. One way for Singapore to stay ahead in the game and attract demand is by creating suitable spaces for them. The authorities may come up with a new zone or subzone," he suggested.

The URA and the Jurong Lake District Steering Committee chaired by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong have identified adaptable spaces for the future economy as a goal to guide the district's master planning.

As Singapore's second central business district, the JLD will consist of a core area around the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) terminus. The area will comprise high-quality office spaces with mixed uses and be surrounded by clusters of business parks that provide flexible and adaptable work spaces for a good mix of complementary businesses and services of varying sizes.

Examples include research and development facilities, educational and training institutes, small and mid-sized firms, business incubators and investment firms.

The URA said: "This will create a diverse and highly connected ecosystem that promotes knowledge-sharing, innovation and collaborations between businesses within the district and beyond, and facilitate the meeting of their evolving needs in the future economy."

Cushman & Wakefield research director Christine Li said: "We could see things like an Airbnb campus, or a Facebook institution spring up in the vicinity, given the close proximity to tertiary institutions."

In launching its request for proposal (RFP) and inviting multi-disciplinary teams to develop master plan proposals for the JLD, the URA also unveiled a third new precinct in the district.

Called Lakeside Gateway, this precinct has been envisioned as a mixed-use business precinct and home to the HSR terminus, which will anchor the JLD as "a district of the future" and Singapore's second CBD.

A large part of the 112-hectare precinct is occupied by the Jurong Country Club, which has been acquired by the government. The JLD's two other precincts unveiled earlier are the commercial hub of Jurong Gateway and the leisure precinct of Lakeside.

The URA said Lakeside Gateway has potential for 4 to 5 million sq m of total gross floor area. Possible developments here include offices, business facilities, retail, entertainment, food and beverage, quality waterfront homes, hotels, recreational facilities and inclusive public spaces.

Ms Li suggested incorporating landed homes and low-rise condos equipped with smart features and boasting waterfront views, which could give rise to a more affordable "Sentosa Cove in the suburbs" .

The URA said that in the longer term, Lakeside Gateway could be integrated with the surrounding areas such as the International Business Park, Teban Gardens and Pandan Gardens.

A key guiding goal in the master planning of the JLD is to achieve a more aggressive public transport mode share - one that is higher than the national target, which is 75 per cent by 2030.

Minister Wong said that as a CBD in the heartlands, the JLD will drive Singapore's growth in the future economy and cater to the needs of businesses, residents, visitors and Singaporeans from all walks of life.

It will be distinguished by its high connectivity, accessibility and environmentally-friendly features, where smart and green mobility options are the choice modes of commute.

The district will be a hub for smart innovations, and be the home of sustainable urban infrastructure that will boost productivity and manpower efficiency, as well as stand out as a "delightful and inclusive destination" for the community, defined by its greenery, extensive water bodies, built heritage and vibrant public spaces, he added.

JLL's head of South-East Asia research Chua Yang Liang described the plans for a socially inclusive district "rather intriguing".

"This will be the first time in Singapore's development history that we could be integrating a CBD within a largely residential and industrial area. Back during the nation-building days, the CBD was largely cleared of population."

Savills Singapore research head Alan Cheong suggested that the Master Plan be loosely interpreted as a Concept Plan to allow for flexibility, given that any physical architecture for the JLD could be rendered obsolete by quantum leaps in technology.

CBRE Research's head of Singapore and South-East Asia Desmond Sim suggested that to be future proof, the JLD Master Plan should provide for an infrastructure and land-use mix that is flexible in space usage within proposed developments as a key feature; this way, businesses can be nimble amid shorter business cycles.

"One possibility is the promotion of mixed-use developments with office, industrial/business parks and retail components. This could translate to more white sites being included in the Master Plan."

From among the multi-disciplinary teams participating in the RFP, the URA will shortlist up to five teams, which will develop their Concept Master Plans for JLD. When this is done, they will each receive an honorarium of S$200,000.

The team with the best Concept Master Plan will be appointed in February 2017, and work with the URA and partner agencies to draw up the Draft Master Plan for the JLD.

There will be an exhibition of the Draft Master Plan around the third quarter of next year, during which the public will be invited to give feedback. After that, the appointed team will work with the URA to refine the plans. When this has been done, the team will be awarded S$2 million.

Wong Heang Fine, group CEO of Surbana Jurong, which has said it will take part in the RFP, commented: "The amalgamation of transportation, technology and sustainable design principles will set new benchmarks for future townships and cater to new industries in Singapore."

Also looking to participate in the RFP is DP Architects. Its director Seah Chee Huang noted that the proposal also calls for "inclusivity of the community that celebrates our social values, memories as well as preservation of built heritage such as the (current) Science Centre and the (former) Jurong Town Hall".

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