The rolling greens of the 42-year-old Jurong Country Club (JCC) was compulsorily acquired by the government in May 2015 to make way for the high-speed rail (HSR) terminus and new mixed-used developments for Singapore’s second CBD.
The HSR was to link Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, facilitating the cross flow between the two countries before Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad announced that his government intends to scrap the RM110 billion ($36.95 billion) project. Now, many are left wondering if its impending cancellation will dim the prospects for Singapore’s second CBD, its impact on the Jurong housing market, as well as the fate of the former country club.
In this article, we gathered 5 things you need to know about the JCC acquisition deal.
1) JCC was compensated $89.8 million, only about half of what it asked for
In December 2015, JCC was awarded $89.8 million in compensation, just slightly over half of what it asked for. JCC had earlier submitted its claim to the authorities for $168 million for the sale of the site, a valuation that was given by real estate firm Knight Frank.
In a statement, the club had expressed its concerns over the large disparity between the two figures and has lodged an appeal against the compensation amount that was awarded for its site.
It claimed that the amount awarded was a scant compensation for the many millions invested in the club over the years. This includes a $30 million sum that was paid upfront for the lease of the land until 2035 and the $23 million spent for its golf course revamp.
The appeal is still before the courts and the outcome of the case could have an implication on the compensation for Raffles Country Club (RCC), another site that was gazetted for land acquisition to make way for the HSR and Cross Island Line's western depot. RCC’s lease expiry was initially on October 31, 2028.
2) It affected 2,800 golfers and country club members
When the Draft Master Plan 2013 was gazetted in November 2013, JCC was listed as one of the six golf clubs (along with Keppel Club, Tanah Merah Country Club, Orchid Country Club, Warren Golf and Country Club, and the National Service Resort and Country Club) that have been earmarked for redevelopment. But even then, members had thought they were in a comparatively “safe zone” as the lease on their golf course was only expiring in 2035.
The club officially ceased operations in December 31, 2016. Its closure affected as many as 2,800 golfers and club members, who didn’t just lose their favourite recreational hangout, but also their hefty membership fees, which had cost as much as $100,000 at JCC’s peak in the 1990s.
Further, the open market value of JCC’s transferable golf membership was worth up to $45,000 prior to the announcement of the acquisition.
The club’s acquisition has inevitably raised questions on the security and value of golf club memberships, with some golf enthusiasts becoming more apprehensive when it comes to purchasing new memberships.
3) JCC had spent $23 million in upgrading works
JCC spent $23 million upgrading its 18-hole golf course from 2010 to 2012. Following the upgrade, the golf course propelled into the ranks of the “Top 10 golf courses in Singapore” in 2013.
Further plans had been made to upgrade the clubhouse in line with the newly renovated golf course, with an initial budget of $4 million approved in March 2015 for the clubhouse’s renovation.
A second and third stage of renovation, which would have seen the upgrading of the swimming pool complex, clubhouse facilities, and the carpark were also slated at a cost of $15 million. Needless to say, all those plans have since been mothballed.
4) JCC could be redeveloped into new mixed-use developments
While the HSR has been called off, the government has indicated that it will go ahead with compulsory acquisition of the land occupied by JCC.
To begin with, the HSR was to take up just 12ha (18%) of the total of 67ha occupied by JCC. Moving forward, the land could be redeveloped into future residential, commercial and mixed-use integrated projects, as well as community facilities to serve the Jurong community.
In the meantime, members of RCC will have until the end of July 2018 to vacate the premises and hand over the land to the government.
5) However, the site could be kept vacant for a few years
When asked how the cancellation of the HSR would affect the land acquisition of both JCC and RCC, the Singapore Land Authority repeated the Ministry of Transport’s earlier media statement that the Government is waiting for official confirmation from its Malaysian counterparts.
However, it is likely that the site would be kept vacant for at least a few years to allow for the possibility of Malaysia revisiting the project.
Because while Mahathir has been firm in his decision to scrap the HSR in efforts to control the national debt and spending, the Malaysian premier has indicated that mega projects such as the HSR can be revisited when the country’s finances improve.