High Speed Rail – Jurong Lake District

May 19, 2015

The Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high speed rail terminus will be located in Jurong East, on land currently occupied by Jurong Country Club. The 67-ha of land will be acquired by the State under the Land Acquisition Act as stipulated by law. As of 12 February 2007, the State will compensate the landowner based on what a willing buyer will pay and has repealed the ‘2-year’ and the ‘7-year’ rules. Previously, the ‘2-year’ rule disregarded any improvements made to the property by the owner 2 years preceding the acquisition and the ‘7-year’ rule disregarded any increase in value attributed to infrastructural works in the neighborhood within 7 years preceding the date of gazette.

The Master Plan 2014 has zoned the Jurong Country Club site as ‘reserve site’. That was a tell tale sign that the State could be acquiring it soon for infrastructural works. Asian Appraisal’s KEO, Mr. Chan Hiap Kong said, ‘The remaining interest on the lease of 19 years (lease expires in May 2035 but handing over of site in Nov 2016) on Jurong Country Club’s land of 67 ha can be worked out by valuers, based on the former land use zoning of recreational(before Master Plan 2014).  The valuer can then use the number of members and the net operating profit to compute the intrinsic value of Jurong Country Club as a checking approach.  Other compensation may include the improvements of S$23m (less depreciation) sunk in to upgrade the Club in 2013 after their lease was renewed in 2003.’

As for the members of Jurong Country Club, Mr. Chan said there could be alternatives for the 2000 golfing members and 700 social members to be absorbed into ‘associated’ Country Clubs. ‘In line with Government’s policy of not allowing the distribution of surplus when clubs owned and run by members wind down their operations, it only makes sense for the committee to explore integrating their members into either Raffles Country Club or Warren Golf Club by offering them the major portion of the balance funds’. However, things are not always ideal in the practical world as committees on both sides may not agree on many points and the challenge lies in coming together for the interest of the members.

In line with URA’s strategy to development Jurong Lake District into a second Central Business District, the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high speed rail will not exist in isolation. Some 20% of the 67-ha land will be built for the terminus (which is reported to be underground) with the rest of the land set aside for a mix of offices, hotels, retail & F&B space and possibly residential developments. It is worth noting that URA has already begun planning for Jurong Lake District to be an attractive commercial hub and this announcement is somewhat timely. When fully developed, the Jurong Lake District Commercial Hub will boast some 500,000 sqm of office space and 250,000 sqm of retail, F&B and entertainment uses and 2,500 hotel rooms to cater to business travelers and visitors. It could an attractive area to lure company headquarters, science and technology companies to be relocated there instead of being in the Central Business District.

Office space around Jurong East has seen healthy take-up rate. Office space in JEM (approximately 285,230 sf) has been leased to Ministry of National Development, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority and the Building and Construction Authority under a single long term lease (19% of the building remains vacant) while office space in Westgate Tower(approximately 305,000 sf) has seen over 91% commitment since its completion in late 2014. In order to attract companies to relocate to Jurong Lake District, rentals for office space has to be competitive with generous floor plates and great connectivity to other parts of the island. The area has to be master planned to be self-contained without the need for office workers to commute out of the area for food, clothings and essential basic needs. There should also be places for people to hangout after work and for sporting activities for families and individuals alike. As such, much thought has to be put into the design of the area with sufficient pockets of land allocated for hospitality, entertainment, residential, etc. The challenge is in finding the right balance for all the components.

Currently, Genting Hotel Jurong has 557-room and the area certainly has the capacity to allow for more hotels and serviced apartments once the high speed rail is completed. Jurong East MRT station is expected to be served by four MRT lines in 2030 — the existing North-South and East-West lines, and the new Jurong Region and Cross Island lines. With all these features in mind, people will hopefully be drawn to this area, thus realizing the vision of making the Jurong Lake District the second Central Business District.

Disclaimer: All opinions outlined here are purely that of the author’s and does not represent the views of any committee member/s of Jurong Country Club (JCC). 

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