More developments with mixed-use concept

Mixed-use concepts have become increasingly popular in key property projects as the market matures and as developers and landlords innovate product offerings,

Planners and developers have seen the increased preference by occupiers to have a wide array of living experiences – being work, leisure and stay – at their convenience. Additionally, from the developers’ point of view, mixed-use projects allow for diversification, so that if one property sector – say, retail – is adversely affected, there are other segments that mitigate the downside of the investment.

Mixed-use developments are also an efficient way to optimise land use in Singapore, especially in predominantly office or residential areas.


As the mixed-use concept is expanded from a central locality to all corners of Singapore, the greatest potential for such developments is in the suburban locations. There are rapid suburban corridor rejuvenation plans, such as in Jurong and the eastern parts in Singapore, and these places present the most opportunities.

Currently, some famous mixed-use developments in suburban areas are Compass Point and Compass Heights in Sengkang, City Square in Little India and Toa Payoh Hub.

It is expected that there will be increased acceptance by businesses of suburban space, particularly those which do not require a central working location.

Looking ahead, the bulk of them are expected to be located in integrated-use developments. This is especially so in the major suburban corridors, such as Jurong and Paya Lebar, where comprehensive revitalisation plans can enhance the attraction of such space and inject life to the vicinity.

But, it must be noted that the preference of suburban experience is largely out of cost savings and is not mainly due to counter urbanisation, i.e. not because of a loss in appeal of the city centre. What we are seeing now is a total place growth strategy in Singapore, where the Government has been actively growing both the city centre and off city locations.

However, some businesses are unlikely to move to suburban areas due to the prestige of the Central Business District or other centrally located areas and the professional corporate image they find necessary to build clients’ confidence. Also, there are many young and rising professionals who like to flaunt a CBD address, even if suburban corridors have been radically enlivened.

The recent years have also seen the rise of suburban malls where retail offerings are comparable to those in Orchard Road, further enhancing the attraction of the suburbs. Although Orchard Road and major retail and lifestyle belts in the city area will always have their place, the convenience of suburban malls for resident-shoppers must not be underestimated.


The “live, work, play” concept, especially in suburban locations, can potentially be a more sustainable way of doing business, opening up opportunities in different parts of Singapore and freeing the pressure in the city centre.

However, how well each suburban location will take off has to be critically assessed – in that some of these places already have their predominant profile and there may be some inertia in accepting these places even if radical changes are made to enliven the area.

For instance, the far west of Singapore is still a very industrial area and it may require more intensive efforts to refresh its identity. On top of the physical building infrastructure, an overall branding effort for the western part of Singapore must be made to achieve the objective of raising its desirability.

It is essential to note that mixed-use developments may not appeal to all buyers. These include residential buyers who feel that the retail or other uses within the development may affect the peace and quiet they hope to enjoy in their enclave. These are the buyers who see the value of nearby supporting amenities and major transport facilities, as long as they are not entrenched in their immediate living environment.

From a property management point of view, mixed-use developments may present more challenges as there are competing concerns from occupiers or owners of space earmarked for different uses – and there may be occasions where reconciliation in expectations will be required.

As can be seen, the overall city growth strategy, including the development of major suburban clusters in Singapore, has come a long way.

There are, therefore, ample opportunities for mixed-use developments to be applied in many suburban locations. Property buyers can also expect to have more such choices in forthcoming developments. Buyers should take note of the relevant issues of a property in a mixed-use development and have them as a consideration in their overall evaluation process.

Developers have to critically assess each location’s needs and character and be increasingly creative in order to emerge successful. The winner of this strategy will be one that recognises the need to be “relevantly unique”, as competition is expected to intensify with more opportunities available.

By Ong Kah Seng – senior manager of research (Asia-Pacific) at Cushman & Wakefield.

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