Beaches and waterfront homes at the edge of city



Beaches and waterfront homes at the edge of city


The area south of Kallang and Lavender MRT stations will be completely transformed


By Fiona Chan


THE year is 2020. The place: Kallang.


Gone are the unsightly gas tanks and drab industrial factories that once marked this area. Instead, it is sparkling with modern high-rise buildings, cool green parks and beachfront homes.


Families stroll down the tree-lined paths and frolic by the river, which has been cleaned up and beautified with sandy beaches, waterfront hotels and energetic water sports.


In the distance looms the Sports Hub, an impressive cluster of world-class sporting facilities, just minutes away to the south of the area.


This is the new Kallang – at least, the way Singapore’s land planners envision it in 15 years.


Under the latest masterplan revealed by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) yesterday, the area south of Kallang and Lavender MRT stations will be completely transformed.


The URA will do away with the prosaic industrial estate of Kallang Basin, the site of the former Kallang Gasworks and some of Singapore’s oldest public housing estates.


In its place will blossom the glamorous Kallang Riverside, an exclusive residential enclave, thriving commercial hub and nature-rich leisure seat at the edge of the city centre.


When the area takes shape, it could rival Novena and Sentosa as a prime living and working destination, property consultants said yesterday.


Kallang will have the added advantage of lush green parks and shimmering waterways to draw visitors, they added.


‘Kallang is like a hybrid of Marina Bay and Sentosa, unique in that it will have beaches and waterfront homes so close to the city,’ said Mr Chua Yang Liang, head of South-east Asia research at property firm Jones Lang LaSalle.


In all, the URA has set aside 64 hectares of land to be developed in the area – double the size of Raffles Place.


It will retain light industrial buildings that offer jobs in the neighbourhood, but eliminate Kallang’s old, grey, stodgy feel.


Four thousand new waterfront homes will be created on the west side of the river, all to be built by private developers, said the URA.


They will be set in The Green, a halcyon housing suburb arranged around a long strip of grassy park to the west of the Kallang River.


This park will link Lavender MRT station to the waterfront, providing a verdant thoroughfare for residents and visitors alike.


On the river’s east side, a commercial centre will spring up, with space for 400,000 sq m of offices, shops and entertainment venues. The offices here will allow businesses to expand outside the city and are envisaged as cheaper support offices for downtown firms, the URA said.


To accommodate overseas visitors, Kallang Riverside will host 3,000 hotel rooms in a tropical beachfront setting.


The river itself will realise its full potential as a recreational hub.


Already a popular dragon boating and waterskiing spot, it will also offer beachside lagoons for swimming and facilities for new sports such as boating or canoeing.


To top it all off, an extensive network of roads and walkways will be created to improve accessibility.


One is a sheltered walkway that will take pedestrians from Kallang MRT station all the way to the Sports Hub in air-conditioned comfort. This futuristic link will snake through the second storeys of office and entertainment buildings along the way.


A pedestrian bridge will also be constructed across the river, linking the mainly residential west bank to the commercial centre on the east.


But Kallang will not be all newfangled plans and sleek buildings. The URA stressed that care has been taken to preserve the area’s historic identity.


One of the key landmarks is the former Kallang Airport, opened in 1937 as Singapore’s first airport. The Art Deco-style building was once hailed as the ‘gem of the British empire’, with revolutionary facilities such as a circular aerodrome and a large open-air viewing gallery.


Increased air traffic led to the airport being closed in 1955 and replaced by Paya Lebar Airport. The runway was converted into a road and the airfield to a recreational area, but the terminal building still stands as the People’s Association headquarters.


Now, it will be one of the key development sites to be launched for sale in Kallang, along with the accompanying office buildings, former hangar, front lawn and other historic structures.


The blocks, centred around the historic Old Airport Square, will be conserved and adapted for new uses that could include a boutique hotel or a mall, said the URA.


It also intends to redevelop the bus interchange south of Kallang MRT station into high-rise buildings, and is studying whether to integrate the interchange into the new development or relocate it.


Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan said yesterday that Kallang Riverside will be the next prime area on the edge of the city.


‘Together with the Sports Hub, Kallang Riverside will be a significant sports and lifestyle cluster with a slice of history, supported by attractive beachfront hotels,’ he said.


Source: Straits Times


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