Reinventing Jurong East as future second CBD and tourist hotspot

By Charlene Chin / EdgeProp Singapore | July 26, 2019 4:28 AM SGT
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In three decades, the Jurong Lake District (JLD), spanning 360ha, will hire 100,000 more people, house 20,000 more homes and become a key tourist destination. It will act as the second CBD in Singapore, with an expanse of recreation, entertainment and retail options. The Singapore government has touted it to become “a bustling district day and night, seven days a week” on its dedicated website. Today, it already has a large residential catchment, four million sq ft of business park space and 1.5 million sq ft of Grade-A office space.
Greenery and natural landscape are key to the district. To that end, the JLD will eventually boast 100ha of green spaces, 70ha of water bodies, and 17km of waterfront areas. Green spaces will be connected by an extensive park connector and cycling network that will link neighbouring residential areas together, says the URA.
Ease of mobility will also be a strength. This will be achieved by catering more spaces for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport, according to URA. “New MRT lines and bus routes, facilitated by bus-only corridors, will form the backbone of the [public transport] system,” it explains. In fact, the JLD will be so well-connected that each development will be no more than a three-to-five minutes’ walk from an MRT station or bus stop. URA is targeting for 85% of all trips in the JLD to be made by public transport. In contrast, only 75% of trips in the city centre are made on public transport now.

Jurong Gateway

Plans to develop the JLD as Singapore’s second CBD was first announced in URA’s 2008 Master Plan. This second CBD was carved out from the immediate vicinity around Jurong East MRT Station. This includes the current Jurong Gateway that comprises mixed-use commercial developments such as JEM, Westgate, J Cube, IMM and Big Box.
Warehouse mall Big Box was put up for sale for the second time in April this year, but the sale was not successful. The sale attempt was part of the liquidation proceedings by struggling mainboard-listed consumer electronics retailer, TT International, which owns 51% of Big Box Singapore.
Other amenities in Jurong Gateway include Ng Teng Fong Hospital and the 557-room Genting Hotel Jurong, which was built by Genting Singapore to support its casino operations at Resorts World Sentosa. Foreign guests staying at Genting Hotel Jurong can enjoy round-the-clock shuttle bus service to and from the property.
Residents and tourists could previously look forward to travelling to Malaysia via the high-speed rail (HSR) with the terminus in Jurong. However, plans to build the HSR were stalled after Malaysia announced an intention to scrap the project on May 28 last year.
The 350km-long HSR, if built, would link Kuala Lumpur to Singapore and cut travel time between both cities to 90 minutes. It would also stop along other Malaysian states along the route, such as Seremban and Melaka. A deal has since been negotiated between the two countries to suspend the HSR project till May 31, 2020. With this delay, the HSR express service is slated to start running in January 2031, instead of December 2026.
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Attractions for both tourists and residents

Despite stalled plans for the HSR, other developments in the JLD have occurred in full force. On April 16 this year, part of JLD was announced to become a tourist hotspot by 2026. The 7ha area, next to Chinese Garden MRT Station, is slated to offer “first-of-its-kind attractions, hotels and complementary lifestyle offerings”, says the Singapore Tourism Board (STB). The expression of interest exercise for the site was launched by Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat at STB’s annual tourism industry conference, and will close in early November. Developing the Jurong area into a tourist destination is part of the government’s plan to change Singaporeans’ impression that it is a “far away, inaccessible, industrial estate”, said STB CEO Keith Tan during the media session.
Attractions targeted at children have also been a focus in the JLD. Adjacent to the tourist site is where the new national Science Centre will be located. The current Science Centre, off Jurong Town Hall Road, is a common field-trip destination for hordes of schoolchildren. Planned for completion in 2025, the new centre will be designed by an architect team led by local practice Architects 61, in collaboration with world-renowned firm Zaha Hadid Architects. Its design is said to blend in with the natural landscape and Jurong Lake. There will also be more outdoor programmes for visitors to explore nature and science within its boundaries, leveraging its waterfront location.
Meanwhile, Lakeside Garden, occupying 53ha west of Jurong Lake Gardens, opened its grounds to the public on April 27. The event marks the first phase to open part of the 90ha Jurong Lake Gardens, Singapore’s third national garden which is also its first in the heartlands. The space boasts, among others, a huge play area starring a serpentine silver slide. There are a total of 13 different adventure stations for kids. Other features include a water play area, with shallow tidal and ripple pools, an eco-pond, and a cafe within the vicinity. For the fitness buffs, the garden houses the ActiveSG Park by Sport Singapore, featuring a lap pool, wading pool, outdoor fitness area and gym.
There is also a meandering boardwalk, on which visitors can walk through a restored freshwater swamp with over 50 species of plants, including Nibong palms and Rasau Trees. The trail, called Rasau Walk, is connected to the adjacent grasslands and wetlands, which are home to wildlife such as grey herons, smooth-coated otters, and oriental pied hornbills.
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