As early as 1991, the idea was mooted to decentralise economic activity away from the Central Business District (CBD) to other parts of the island. Thus, the regional centres were born, with Tampines being the first to be built in 1992. More than 20 years later, Tampines is now the most established of all the regional centres.
Following Tampines’ success, the Government followed up with plans to transform Jurong and Woodlands in 2008 and 2014, respectively. In Budget 2016, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced the building of the Jurong Innovation District, the “industrial park of the future”. These comprehensive plans have led to home values spiking in the West and North.
The median price of private condominium projects in Jurong hit S$1,354 per sqft (psf) this quarter, while new private homes in Woodlands and Yishun achieved median prices of S$1,080 and S$1,052 psf, respectively. In comparison, the median price in Tampines hovered around S$961 psf, even lower than Yishun’s, despite its regional centre status. Amid all the hype and buzz surrounding Jurong and Woodlands, it appears that Tampines has been forgotten.
However, that is not the case, and Tampines remains well sought after by buyers, as shown by the strong response to the Housing and Development Board’s (HDB) August Build-To-Order sales launch that closed this week. As further proof of its popularity, HDB flat prices in Tampines have outperformed neighbouring towns Bedok and Pasir Ris. Taking four-room HDB resale flats as an example, the median selling price in the second quarter was S$423,400 while those in Bedok and Pasir Ris were S$399,000 and S$405,000 respectively.
HDB flats are not the only properties favoured by buyers in Tampines, with private condominiums popular as well. Tampines was the 13th most active area in terms of transactions out of a total of 36 areas, topping areas such as Queenstown and Clementi.
But despite the interest in Tampines, there has yet to be a corresponding increase in prices. The latest statistics point to Tampines’ median prices languishing at a 37 per cent discount from the whole island’s. Furthermore, compared with Jurong, an upcoming regional centre, prices are 29 per cent lower. From an investment viewpoint, private properties in Tampines may enjoy more headroom for future capital appreciation.
AMENITIES FOR EVERYONE
Tampines is home to almost 80,000 households, out of which more than 37,000 are families with three or four members. Only Jurong West and Bedok have a higher number of resident households.
There are several reasons why Tampines is one of the most popular areas in which families choose to reside. There is a wide range of amenities that provide convenience to residents, including three shopping malls: Tampines Mall, Tampines 1 and Century Square. Major tenants of these malls include Isetan, BHG, H&M and Uniqlo, among many others. Families do not need to travel to town for a weekend shopping trip.
For grocery shopping, Tampines residents can count on FairPrice, FairPrice Finest, Cold Storage in the three malls, as well as a Giant hypermart. Plans are in place for the construction of Tampines Town Hub, which will concentrate sports, retail and community-related activities into one location. Tampines’ neighbourhood parks also offer residents reprieve from the hustle and bustle of city living. Plans are also in place to ensure that most homes will be within 400m of a park or park connector. More green spaces have also been planned, with Tampines North Quarry Park and Boulevard Park expected be completed in the near future.
For families with youngsters, Tampines is home to many educational institutions and childcare centres: A search on Street Directory reveals 74 childcare centres. Various schools — from primary to tertiary — are also located in Tampines. The Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) has also recently moved its campus to Simei.
In terms of public transport, Tampines is served by the East-West Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Line and an extensive bus network, and things will get even better with the completion of Phase 3 of the Downtown Line in 2017. Tampines’ MRT Station will become an interchange between the East-West Line and Downtown Line. Tampines town will also gain two more MRT stations at Tampines East and Tampines West.
The new MRT line is expected to alleviate congestion on the East-West Line and provide a strategic transport link for residents and commuters living in Tampines to the Marina Bay area and the rest of the island.
THE COMMERCIAL CENTRE OF THE EAST
According to the Department of Statistics, Tampines has 152,400 resident working persons, the second-highest in Singapore. Evidently, Tampines is a top pick among workers. Why is this so? The east is a major employment hub outside of the CBD, with more than 1 million sq m of existing commercial space. The main employment clusters include Tampines Regional Centre, Changi Airport and Changi Business Park.
Tampines Regional Centre is where several banks such as OCBC and UOB have located their back-end operations. Household names such as Singapore Airlines and Hitachi also have their offices there. Changi Airport is home to 77,000 jobs and accounts for 3 per cent of gross domestic product. Changi Business Park, Singapore’s largest integrated business parkâ¿¨development, is a 71,000sqm project that houses tenants such as DBS, IBM and Standard Chartered.
According to the 2015 General Household Survey by the Department of Statistics, 67 per cent of resident working persons in Singapore commute to their workplaces via public transport or walk to work. Consequently, commuting time is an important factor when buying a house. Tampines strikes a balance between being affordable and convenient.
Those working at Tampines Regional Centre can simply walk to their workplace or take a short bus ride. Changi Business Park and Changi Airport are a short MRT ride away. In addition, business travellers who need to fly frequently may find Tampines an attractive location due to its proximity to Changi Airport.
Further demand for housing in Tampines may be fuelled by the Government’s plans to add more commercial space in the east. According to Urban Redevelopment Authority estimates, another 504,000sqm of commercial space will be added, almost 40 per cent of current stock.
Part of this will be from expansion plans at Changi Airport and Changi Business Park. Terminal 4 of Changi Airport is due for completion next year and Terminal 5 and Jewel are in the works. These new projects are expected to create thousands of additional jobs as the combined size of Terminals 4 and 5 alone is three-quarters of the total current facilities. Changi Business Park will be further built up to consolidate its status as an employment hub and a vibrant business park. In addition, to capitalise on its proximity to the SUTD, potential tie-ups and collaborations are in the works with students from the university.
Tampines has shown itself to be an ideal live-work-play destination that has grown in both size and scale since its development in 1992.
Will it remain forgotten for long? We do not think so.
Sooner or later, the market’s attention will swing back to the east.
Adapted from: The Business Times, 26 August 2016