Ophir-Rochor area the next downtown district?

Singapore-Malaysia joint venture to develop parcels there

The Ophir-Rochor area is touted as the next downtown district, with plans for it to be an extension of the Central Business District.

A 2.67-hectare area there will now be developed by a Singapore-Malaysia joint venture, following yesterday’s land swap announcement by the two countries.

After years of negotiation, both neighbours agreed to a deal on Malayan Railway land that cuts through the heart of Singapore.

In exchange, Malaysia accepted six land parcels in Marina South and Ophir-Rochor under the joint venture.

Property analyst Nicholas Mak, executive director of research and consultancy at SLP International, estimates that under current market conditions and based on recent land sales, the Marina sites could be worth between $3.5 billion and $5 billion, while the Ophir parcels could fetch $2 billion.

The two land parcels at Ophir Road have been designated “white sites”, which allow for greater flexibility of land use. With the financial and shopping districts within close proximity, analysts said the sites will likely be used for a mix of residential and commercial developments.

Chesterton Suntec International head of research and consultancy Colin Tan said: “The Government has, in the last one to one-and-a-half years, been focusing mainly in the Marina Bay area to service the financial district.

“Now they’re looking at maybe overall development, at expanding the tourism areas. So this is one way because we have Arab Street there; there are interesting places. So maybe to kick-start development, from the Raffles City area down to Ophir Road.”

The Singapore Government has not released details of the land parcels it receives from the deal.

But beyond the value of the railway land, Singapore will also gain from the potential value unlocked in the areas surrounding these sites, analysts said.

Mr Mak said: “Some of these other sites will also benefit because now they can be amalgamated once the railway track is removed, and this will allow greater flexibility in development and allow the land which is currently adjacent to the railway track to realise their full market potential.”

With Tanjong Pagar slated to be developed into a waterfront city once the lease on the port area expires in 2027, analysts said ownership of the railway land will allow for better long-term planning.

Source : Today – 22 Sep 2010

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