Jurong East: From swampland to Singapore’s next CBD

By Ruth Loh Xiu / EdgeProp Singapore | August 21, 2019 3:00 PM SGT
Mention Jurong, and some instinctively think of a no man’s land, factories with smoggy air, or the Nanyang Technological University (NTU). It’s not hard to understand why from their perspective. On Singapore’s map, Jurong lies to the island’s southwest and has always been thought of as nudging the country’s edge.
Once little more than a vast swathe of swampy mangroves, Jurong—named after the Malay word for “shark”, or “jerong”—later discovered new purpose as Singapore’s industrial hub, and a miniature city centre was born. From the 1960s to the 1980s, Jurong gradually shed its old skin as a plantation area dotted with fish and prawn ponds (and a few crocodile-infested rivers), and morphed into a self-sufficient town.

The dividing lines

JURONG EAST - Jurong East is adjacent to Clementi and Jurong West
Jurong East is adjacent to Clementi and Jurong West. Source: URA
Today, Jurong is divided into two zones—Jurong West, western Singapore’s largest town with more than a quarter of a million HDB residents; and Jurong East, a more modest township with an HDB resident population just shy of 80,000.
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JURONG EAST - While home to a significantly smaller HDB population compared to Jurong West, Jurong East is big on personality, with a clean and welcoming infrastructure
While home to a significantly smaller HDB population compared to Jurong West, Jurong East is big on personality, with a clean and welcoming infrastructure. Photo credit: Loh Xiu Ruth
There are 10 subzones within Jurong East: International Business Park, Jurong Gateway, Jurong Port, Jurong River, Lakeside, Penjuru Crescent, Teban Gardens, Toh Guan, Yuhua East, and Yuhua West.
This area is part of Singapore’s largest industrial area, and intriguingly, has also carved a niche for itself as Singapore’s Orchard Road of the west.It’s not hard to see why. Multiple extensive malls—including JEM and Westgate—have come up in the area.
JURONG EAST - Westgate is a large and modern mall with comfortable areas encouraging relaxation
Westgate is a large and modern mall with comfortable areas encouraging relaxation. Photo credit: Loh Xiu Ruth
The government has also announced the upcoming development of Jurong Lake District (within Jurong East) under the URA Draft Master Plan 2019’s Regional Highlights. The district spans a staggering 360 hectares. It is expected to have four MRT lines running through it by 2035 with direct connections to Changi Business District and Changi Airport, nurture more than 170 hectares of parks and waterbodies, and integrate innovative green technologies into its infrastructure and other elements for sustainable living.

Significant part of Singapore’s future infrastructure

Ong Teck Hui, senior director of research and consultancy at JLL, says: “The significance of the Jurong East planning area is that the Jurong Lake District has been slated to be Singapore’s second Central Business District.”
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Ong also notes that the future Singapore-Kuala Lumpur high-speed rail (HSR) line will have its terminus in Jurong East. Although the HSR’s opening has been delayed, Ong concludes that its presence will be a “game-changer” for the town. “Jurong Lake District, Jurong Innovation District, and the Tuas mega-port terminal are key components of the proposed ‘Western Gateway’ under Singapore’s 2019 Draft Master Plan, adding on to and enhancing the current industrial base,” he says. Out of these three, Jurong Lake District lies within Jurong East’s purview, making it a key pivot point for the area’s overall facelift.
This gateway is expected to be a major employment and business hub, which will promote increased demand for offices, retail outlets, hotels, recreational facilities, and housing in the long run, Ong says.
The traditional industrial face of Jurong is evolving to become a business one. Within the vicinity, the suburban office submarket is shaping up, Ong says, citing Westgate Tower, JEM Office Tower, and Vision Exchange as examples of this.
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JURONG EAST -  JEM is next to Westgate, and together, the two malls ensure nobody in Jurong East will go hungry or bored
JEM is next to Westgate, and together, the two malls ensure nobody in Jurong East will go hungry or bored. Photo credit: Loh Xiu Ruth
On Jurong East’s reputation as the Orchard Road of western Singapore, Ong says, “The retail scene in Jurong East has also been refreshed…with the opening of Westgate Shopping Mall and JEM.” Both Westgate and JEM opened for business in 2013.
Retail often comes hand in hand with hospitality, and this is also the case for Jurong East. Genting Jurong Hotel, built within Jurong East’s Lakeside subzone, is turning into a hotspot for visitors.
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Private non-landed residential prices in Jurong holding steady

Darren Teo, head of research at Edmund Tie & Co (ET&Co), says: “Jurong Lake District is expected to have newly integrated tourism developments starting from 2026.” These developments are underpinned by plans to transform a currently vacant plot of land the size of 10 football fields. The land is next to the Chinese Garden MRT Station, and has been earmarked for hotels, lifestyle attractions, and a new national Science Centre. Teo says also that “the Jurong East integrated transport hub has been earmarked for completion next year. There is also the Jurong Region MRT Line that will open its doors to passengers starting 2026”. These infrastructural alterations to the existing landscape of Jurong East, he says, are likely to “have an upward influence on prices [in the region]”.
This upward pressure is not yet evident, with Teo’s research showing a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) increase of 0.2% in Jurong East’s median private non-landed residential unit prices between 2014 and the first half of 2019. This compares with the islandwide CAGR increase of 0.7% for private non-landed residential units. “The announcement about the delay in the HSR, plus the latest cooling measures, may have resulted in a slight decrease in resale volume, with prices largely remaining flat,” he says.
Private non-landed units in the Jurong East planning area:
Year
Resale volume
Median unit size (sq ft)
Median price psf ($)
Median unit price ($)
2014
63
1,227
864
1,050,000
2015
40
1,227
856
1,030,000
2016
55
1,227
823
1,028,000
2017
76
1,227
857
1,050,000
2018
65
1,173
911
1,055,000
Jan to Jun 2019
35
1,227
898
1,150,000
Source: ET&Co and URA, based on caveats as of July 22,2019.
Ong ascertains the private housing market in the Jurong area is “well-established”, and that Jurong East and Jurong West have amalgamated into a “seamless submarket”. Within this niche market segment, he says, there are 9,800 private residential units with multiple developments lining the MRT corridor between the Jurong East and Lakeside stations.
Within the Jurong East region, these include J Gateway with 738 units, The Mayfair with 452 units, and Parc Oasis with 950 units. Ong suggests these developments have been popular among homebuyers because of their proximity to the MRT stations. Among these, the development boasting the highest psf prices is J Gateway, which was completed in 2016 and has a median psf price of $1,813 as of the second quarter of 2019.
JURONG EAST - J Gateway is a short stroll away from the likes of glamorous JEM, with its trendy interiors and fashionable stores
J Gateway is a short stroll away from the likes of glamorous JEM, with its trendy interiors and fashionable stores. Photo credit: Loh Xiu Ruth
While the Jurong submarket remains affordable for many homebuyers, private residential homes will enjoy relatively robust demand. As the western gateway emerges more strongly, Jurong East is expected to continue the slow and steady journey from its industrial origins to become an important area to live, work and play.
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