Earlier this month, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced on live TV that Mandai will get a bigger and better zoo, while the Jurong Bird Park will be relocated there to be closer to similar attractions like the River Safari, Singapore Zoo and Night Safari.
Aside from a new zoo and the expansion of the existing site, there will also be areas where the public can relax for free, similar to the Bayside Gardens at Marina Bay, Mr Lee said.
There will be “public areas where you can wander around and you can go and take wedding pictures, and you can enjoy the waterfront and watch the sunset on Upper Seletar Reservoir”, he added. Other slated projects include a museum, research facility and eco-friendly hotel, said media reports.
Currently, the plans are being fine-tuned with input from nature groups to ensure the area’s sustainable development, according to a joint statement from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and the National Parks Board (NParks). Among the ideas being looked at are a jungle adventure theme and suspension bridges built through a tree canopy.
“Through sensitive design and management, the development could potentially strengthen and enhance the nature reserves,” noted the agencies.
The new attractions in Mandai are expected to be completed around 2020.
Brace for tourism boom
Meanwhile, this news is unlikely to significantly impact the region’s property market, but instead will strengthen Singapore’s tourism sector, stated Colliers International.
This is because Mandai falls under the Central Water Catchment Planning Area under the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) 2014 Master Plan, and there are no major residential clusters within the immediate vicinity, explained Chia Siew Chuin, the consultancy’s Director for Research & Advisory.
“The Mandai Planning Area to the North of the Central Water Catchment Planning Area predominantly consists of forested areas, open spaces, as well as sites for sports and recreation, transport facilities and reserved use. Only a small proportion of low-rise and landed homes can be found around Jalan Mata Ayer, off Sembawang Road,” she shared.
Rather, the large concentrations of homes are located on the outskirts of the Central Water Catchment Planning Area, namely Ang Mo Kio to the east, Bukit Panjang to the west, as well as Yishun and Woodlands to the north.
Among them, the nearest are in the Meng Suan Road area off Mandai Road and Springside cluster off Sembawang Road, along with the Springleaf Road and Thong Soon Green areas off Upper Thomson Road.
“Based on caveats lodged between January and August 2014, median prices for landed homes in these areas are about $950 psf,” said Chia.
She added that the attraction of homes here is likely to be boosted by the completion of new transport infrastructure such as the upcoming North-South Expressway and Thomson-East Coast MRT Line which includes the Springleaf MRT station.
Developers may look for opportunities
When asked if property players could bid for land around Mandai to take advantage of the area’s future makeover, she responded that they are always on the lookout for land banking opportunities.
Developers “will choose to tender if they find the sites attractive and in line with their business strategies. This is also dependent on factors including the market timing and individual site attributes such as location, proximity to amenities, views and accessibility. Whether developers build condominiums or landed developments is dependent on the allowable use for the site. The pricing of these projects will also depend on the prevailing residential market situation and their marketing strategy at the time of launch,” Chia noted.
However, it’s still too early to speculate on developers’ plans for Mandai.
Similarly, future developments in the area won’t affect Mandai Industrial Estate as its location is in the Sungei Kadut Planning Area and not in the immediate vicinity.
Meanwhile, the government’s plans are expected to generate more buzz and activity in the area from locals and tourists visiting Mandai’s world-class attractions.
“However, it is not expected to become another Jurong Lake District, which is a larger scale urban planning initiative to create a decentralised commercial hub integrating the ‘live-work-play’ elements,” reckons Chia.
Credits: Property Guru