Riding the Greater Southern Waterfront wave


View of Keppel Club golf course – where 9,000 new homes will spring up in the future (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/ EdgeProp Singapore)

In his 2019 National Day Rally speech on Aug 18, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shed more light on the Greater Southern Waterfront (GSW) project first announced in 2013, then expanded in the 2019 URA Master Plan.

“The GSW will mark a new chapter in Singapore’s real estate development, presenting significant opportunities to developers, businesses, investors and home buyers,” comments Ong Teck Hui, JLL senior director of research & consultancy. “The initiative will redefine and enhance existing sub-markets as well as create new ones that would offer new locations, different ambience and lifestyles to homebuyers.”

There has been renewed interest in the upcoming GSW area, notes Ismail Gafoor, CEO of PropNex. “The excitement stems from the fact that for a nation, such long-term plans for the next 10 to even 40 years show great foresight.”

The Greater Southern Waterfront will cover a 30km coastline stretching from Pasir Panjang terminal to Gardens by the Bay East (Credit: Prime Minister's Office Singapore)

Six times the size of Marina Bay

Stretching across 30km of the southern coastline from Gardens by the Bay East to Pasir Panjang, the GSW will cover a 2,000ha swathe of land – six times the size of Marina Bay and double the size of Punggol. It includes the PSA city terminals at Tanjong Pagar, Keppel, and Brani, which will be relocated to Tuas by 2027; as well as Pasir Panjang Terminal, following its relocation to Tuas Port by 2040.

“This will free up prime land for redevelopment,” said PM Lee. “It will be an opportunity to reshape the GSW into a new place to live, work and play.”

One of the first new developments on the GSW announced by PM Lee is the existing Keppel Club site, where the lease will expire in two years. The plan is to redevelop the site into a housing precinct with a mix of 9,000 private and public housing units, interlaced with waterfront promenades, greenery and open spaces.

“Housing in this area is expected to [see] good demand, given its city-fringe location, seafront living and connectivity to the nearby MRT stations,” says Christine Li, Cushman & Wakefield’s (C&W) head of research for Singapore and Southeast Asia. The Keppel Club site is in the vicinity of the Labrador Park and Telok Blangah MRT Stations on the Circle Line.

Tricia Song, Colliers International head of research for Singapore, says: “The closing up of the Circle Line loop – with the opening of Keppel, Cantonment and Prince Edward stations by 2025 – will create a seamless connection between the GSW and the CBD; and should offer some upside.”

The city terminals will be relocated to Tuas Port by 2027, while the Pasir Panjang Terminal will move to Tuas by 2040 (Credit: Prime Minister's Office Singapore)

9,000 new homes on Keppel Club site

While 9,000 homes on the Keppel Club site sounds like a huge quantum, “as in previous major urban planning initiatives, it will be sensitively and systematically master-planned such that land release and development take into account prevailing market conditions, especially supply and demand”, says JLL’s Ong.

“Owners of existing homes need not fear any negative impact on values because of oversupply,” continues Ong. “They may in fact be enhanced by the value-add in infrastructural development under the GSW plans.”

C&W’s Li agrees. She reckons the 9,000 homes are likely to be launched progressively over the next 10 to 15 years – at a rate of “about 600 to 900 housing units per year”, or one private or public housing project annually. A rollout at this pace is “digestible” if the economy is still expanding, she adds.

Any impact on prices of existing housing projects in the vicinity is likely to be limited, says Li. However, she sees some inconvenience from construction noise and dust in the short term.

The last project to be completed in the immediate neighbourhood of Keppel Club was Keppel Land’s 366-unit Corals at Keppel Bay in 2016. A new 429-unit project at Keppel Bay, adjacent to Corals, is slated for launch in the future, says Colliers’ Song.

Transaction prices of units at Corals have ranged from $2,100 to $2,400 psf compared with Marina One Residences in Marina Bay (completed in 2017), where units have been sold at $2,400 to $2,500 psf year-to-date in 2019, observes Song. Hence, there is a 10% to 20% price gap between similar 99-year leasehold condos in Marina Bay and Keppel Bay. “We expect this gap to potentially close in the future,” she adds.

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Mapletree Business City in Pasir Panjang – in the Greater Southern Waterfront – comprises four blocks of Grade A offices, with an estimated 1.7 million sq ft of net lettable area (Credit: Ministry of Communications and Information)

On the bandwagon

Some developers have already leapt on the GSW bandwagon when it was announced in the Master Plan 2019 that the area will double in size to 2,000ha.

“With more buyers paying attention to the area around the GSW post-NDR [National Day Rally] and growing interest from corporates looking at decentralised locations, the upcoming project launches will be well-received by buyers and investors who are likely to enjoy first-mover advantage,” says C&W’s Li.

There has already been a flurry of new launches in the neighbourhood of the GSW in recent months. “It is only natural that existing projects ride on the GSW announcements as a selling point,” according to JLL’s Ong. “However, pricing of these projects will be determined mainly by their attributes and the current supply and demand situation.”

For instance, the 262-unit, freehold Sky Everton on Everton Road by Sustained Land was launched towards the end of June. To date, close to 70% of the units have been taken up, says PropNex’s Gafoor. Based on caveats lodged to date with URA Realis, average price achieved is $2,546 psf. “Sky Everton has benefitted from its pricing and freehold tenure,” he adds.

Meanwhile, CapitaLand, which launched One Pearl Bank on July 19, has sold 212 units (27.4%) out of a total of 774 units in the development. The 99-year leasehold condo is a redevelopment of the former Pearl Bank Apartments. Average price of units sold to date is $2,379 psf, based on caveats lodged. “There is already an uplift in prices of private condos in these CBD and CBD fringe locations,” notes C&W’s Li.

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Doorstep of the GSW

Another property development that could benefit from the GSW given its location is Kent Ridge Hill Residences on South Buona Vista Road. It is a redevelopment of the former Vista Park condo, and sits on a sprawling 446,951 sq ft, 99-year leasehold site. The new project will have 498 condo units and 50 strata houses. Since its launch last November, about 217 units have been sold, translating to a 44% take-up rate. Average price of units sold at Kent Ridge Hill Residences is $1,696 psf.

Kent Ridge Hill Residences is situated opposite the Pasir Panjang terminal, which will be redeveloped in the longer term.

With upcoming public housing flats at the Keppel Club site projected to sell at prices in the $1 million region, “those buying Kent Ridge Hill Residences today are likely to benefit from any future price upside”, says Eugene Lim, Oxley Holdings’ marketing and sales director.

Another upcoming launch that will benefit from its proximity to the GSW is Avenue South Residence on Silat Avenue. “It is located right at the edge of the GSW,” says PropNex’s Gafoor.

Avenue South Residence sits on a 245,972 sq ft, 99-year leasehold site purchased in a government land sale last year. It will comprise twin 56-storey, high-rise residential towers with 1,074 units and eight commercial units housed within five conservation buildings. The developer is a consortium made up of UOL Group, UIC and Kheng Leong.

“Overall, the announcement of more concrete plans is a positive step towards greater market confidence, especially in areas around the GSW,” adds Gafoor.

Sentosa’s beach areas will be revitalised, and its nature and heritage trails expanded (Credit: Sentosa Development Corp)

New tourist spots on Sentosa and Pulau Brani

The government has also earmarked Pulau Brani, north of Sentosa, as a tourist spot, with plans to house tourist attractions similar to Universal Studios on Sentosa. Sentosa’s beach areas will be revitalised, and its nature and heritage trails expanded, PM Lee said.

“Sentosa and Pulau Brani will leverage their waterfront locations to create the next-generation entertainment and recreational facilities for the region," C&W's Li notes.

Currently, expansion plans are already underway on Sentosa. It is set to open a new lifestyle quarter by the end of this year, called Siloso Green, which will span 263,716 sq ft. The quarter is set to take over the space vacated by Underwater World in 2016, and feature a shipping container theme – with bars, food trucks, and live music in an open space area.

Resorts World Sentosa has also planned for new attractions spanning 1.77 million sq ft, which will be rolled out over the years from 2020, and be completed around 2025. The $4.5 billion development will include two new themed attractions, Super Nintendo World and Minion Park. The latter will replace the existing Madagascar area.

Meanwhile, S.E.A. Aquarium will be expanded to create the Singapore Oceanarium, which will be three times its current size. Two new hotels with a capacity of around 1,100 rooms have also been planned for.

More CBD fringe office spaces

The GSW is also a burgeoning business cluster in the CBD fringe with multinationals like Google, Unilever and Cisco already located there. To that end, the government plans to roll out more office hubs in the GSW, with the intention to create activity both during the day and at night. “People can work near where they live, and live near where they work,” said PM Lee. Developing more business hubs such as Mapletree Business City will bring in more jobs to the area, he added.

Mapletree Business City in Pasir Panjang – also in the GSW – comprises four blocks of Grade A offices, with an estimated 1.7 million sq ft of net lettable area. It is a mixed-use development that includes F&B outlets, a multi-purpose hall and meeting facilities, a gymnasium with a heated pool, a convenience store, a childcare centre, a clinic and a laundromat. The hub also boasts wide public spaces, lush greenery, an eco-pond, art installation, connectivity to parks in the vicinity and access to public transportation.

The move by the government to build more office spaces outside the city centre will “further enhance the attractiveness of decentralised office and business park offerings”, comments C&W’s Li. The current CBD and the GSW may eventually evolve into a “Central Business Coast” that would connect one-north to Bugis, she adds.

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