Spotlight falls on Paya Lebar Central as suburban star

Spotlight falls on Paya Lebar Central as suburban star

 

By EMILYN YAP

 

PAYA Lebar Central is set to become the next suburban commercial hub under the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) Draft Master Plan. And if market observers are right, the area may emerge as the newest hot spot for backroom operations and small and medium enterprises (SME).

 

Unveiled by Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan yesterday, the 2008 Draft Master Plan is an elaborate land use guide for Singapore in the next 10 to 15 years. To sustain economic growth and bring jobs closer to homes, the plan carves out Paya Lebar Central, Kallang Riverside and Jurong Lake District as the latest commercial and mixed-use hubs.

 

Paya Lebar Central will stand out as a commercial node with a unique cultural identity. The URA will set aside 12 hectares of land with about 5.32 million square feet of commercial floor space for development. Of this, office space will take up 3.16 million sq ft, while hotel and retail spaces will occupy another 2.15 million sq ft.

 

For new growth areas such as Paya Lebar, plot ratios may increase, said Mr Mah, who spoke to reporters after the launch of the Plan.

 

In terms of connectivity, Paya Lebar Central is a 10-minute drive from the Central Business District (CBD) and is linked to major expressways and roads. Come 2010, the area will become more accessible when the new Paya Lebar MRT interchange station for the Circle and East-West lines opens.

 

There are also plans to re-align a stretch of the Geylang River so that it runs through new commercial developments along Tanjong Katong Road. The riverbanks will be ideal for office, retail and hotel developments.

 

Real estate experts believe that Paya Lebar Central’s proximity to town may draw backroom operations from banks and multinational corporations.

 

‘Just six MRT stations from Raffles Place, Paya Lebar Central may be even more attractive … compared with the Tampines Regional Centre or the Changi Business Park,’ observed director of marketing and business development at Savills Singapore Ku Swee Yong.

 

Sharing this view was Colliers International’ s director of research and advisory Tay Huey Ying. Ms Tay also noted that ‘Paya Lebar Central will be a suitable commercial hub for SMEs, especially for those which support light industries in the area’.

 

For these SMEs, deputy managing director of Knight Frank Danny Yeo said: ‘Rental rates in the CBD may be too high, and some have set up offices in industrial buildings instead. Hence, the creation of a commercial hub at Paya Lebar Central will be helpful.’

 

According to Mr Yeo, office rents in the Paya Lebar region range broadly from $6 to $8 per sq ft per month currently. A Jones Lang LaSalle report in April noted that the CBD core Grade A gross effective office rent stood at $17.35 per sq ft per month in the first quarter.

 

Mr Mah reassured those who were worried about a potential excess of office space from the upcoming hubs. ‘We can set land aside but it is the private investor who will make the final decision,’ he said.

 

He also did not think there would be an oversupply of office space in the foreseeable future, up to 2010 or 2011. ‘Based on projections … we expect that all the supply that we have already put in place will be taken up.’

 

Beyond its business appeal, Paya Lebar Central will also charm with its distinctive Malay character. A new pedestrian mall will be created along Geylang Road to provide more space for stalls during the annual Hari Raya bazaar. The new Geylang Serai Market will also add to the local heritage when it is ready in 2009.

 

Next to the market, a new civic centre and plaza will become focal points for community facilities such as a library, and for events such as bazaars.

 

To make it easier for workers and shoppers to get around Paya Lebar Central, there will be more covered walkways, underground paths and overhead bridges in the area.

 

With upcoming commercial and cultural activities in Paya Lebar Central, market observers expect to see three- to four-star hotels coming up to cater to mid-tier tourists and business travellers. URA estimates that the area can accommodate 1,400 hotel rooms.

 

Source: Business  Times

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