Located on the northern tip of Singapore, Woodlands has become synonymous with the infamous traffic jams across the Causeway into Malaysia. But more than just the gateway to Johor Baru (JB) and cheap shopping, Woodlands is also a regional centre and an integral part of Singapore’s economic planning.
The concept of regional centres was first floated in 1991, envisioned as a solution and pre-emptive measure against overcrowding in the Central Business District and Marina Bay. The Woodlands estate is one such regional centre, the third after Tampines in 1992 and Jurong in 2008. First unveiled in 2013, the Woodlands regional centre will be developed over 15 to 20 years into a modern waterfront estate. Its close proximity to JB and the fast-developing Iskandar region, which has attracted investments from Singapore and international companies, has also boosted Woodlands’ appeal.
1.This multigenerational playground in Woodlands Waterfront Park will interest families looking for weekend fun away from the malls.
2.Woodlands residents hoping to watch a race at the nearby Singapore Turf Club, remember to heed the dress code, which bans jogging shorts and singlets in the grandstands.
MORE BUSINESS THAN USUAL
As a result of the Malaysian government’s Iskandar Development plans in JB, its southern-most state is transforming into a modern metropolis. Thus, it is imperative that development plans in Woodlands keep in step with those of our neighbour, ensuring that we take advantage of any possible spillover investments onto our shores.
Come 2019, commuting between Johor Baru and Woodlands will become more convenient with the completion of the Rapid Transit System (RTS) linking both locations. The Singapore terminal station will be located at Woodlands North MRT Station near Republic Polytechnic, on the due-to-be-completed Thomson-East Coast MRT Line. Johor’s terminal station, however, has not been finalised.
Plans for the town’s transformation into a northern regional centre will allow Singapore to capitalise on business investments. Once completed, Woodlands will become one of five towns – along with Sembawang, Seletar, Punggol and Sengkang West – forming the Northern Innovation Corridor. Each town is expected to be home to a diverse economic cluster with businesses that cover a range of industries.
Development in Woodlands regional centre covers 100ha of land, divided into two precincts – Woodlands Central and Woodlands North Coast. The larger of the two precincts, the 70ha Woodlands North Coast district, has been earmarked for unique commercial and residential waterfront projects. The precinct is home to two wafer-fabrication factories developed by Jurong Town Corporation – the North Coast and Woodlands Wafer Fab parks. Situated opposite Woodlands Town Garden, the Woodlands Wafer Fab park is just a little over a kilometre away from factories in Kranji Loop. This close proximity to the town centre makes the park attractive to companies looking to base their offices nearby.
Residents of Woodlands will benefit from the development of the Woodlands Central precinct. Covering 30ha, the regional retail hub will include a pedestrianfriendly retail corridor, which stretches from the heart of Woodlands Central, northwards to the coastline. An estimated 100,000 jobs will be added with these economic and commercial development plans.
HOME IN THE NORTH
Woodlands is not a fashionable address yet, and property prices remain affordable. ERA realestate agent Kang Xueming says: “Generally, resale flats in Woodlands have been transacting at the lower end of resale prices, as compared to the rest of Singapore. However, there were a handful of bigger flats that went for $670,000 and above.”
Rental yields, on the other hand, look more positive. Property investors have benefitted from leasing rooms and apartments to members of the expatriate community – both professionals and students of educational institutions such as Republic Polytechnic, Innova Junior College, the Singapore Sports School and the Singapore American School, has always enjoyed healthy rental yields with American families who want to live near the school. A 1,615sqf house was recently listed for $5,000 per month.
HDB flat owners also find ready demand for whole unit or individual bedroom rentals. Foreign students at Republic Polytechnic and foreign workers who work in Woodlands’ industrial estate provide a constant pool of tenants. Coupled with the upcoming job creation plans, residential property investors can expect an upturn in the rental market.
According to figures from ST Property’s Property Watch site, rental yield figures from properties in Woodlands fare slightly better than those of comparable apartments in similar towns located outside the central region. Although there are other factors such as land area and market demands to consider, Xueming notes that “rental rates in Woodlands are rather consistent and match those of other non-mature estates.” With the wide variety of schools located in the estate,
Woodlands might appeal to young couples and families. They can look forward to the PAP Community Foundation’s first mega childcare centre. The twostorey childcare centre located on Woodlands Street 13 is slated to open in the second half of 2016 and will accommodate up to 300 children aged between 18 months and 7 years old. Boasting a rooftop open-air play area, the centre hopes to offer a unique educational experience integrating the indoors with the outdoors.
3.Completed in 2012, Straits Vista@ Marsiling is one of the few BTO projects in the estate; the block comprises a mix of three and four room flats.
4.Woodlands Estate is home to educational institutions such as the Singapore Sports School (pictured), Republic Polytechnic and Singapore 3 American School.
5.The field adjacent to Woodlands MRT station and Causeway Point plays host to a number of bazaars and food fairs tied to festive seasons.
Perhaps better known for its industrial activities, Woodlands’ present retail offerings are rather limited. There is Causeway Point and Woodlands Civic Centre, though residents are just a short MRT ride away from nearby Sun Plaza at Sembawang and Lot One Shopping Mall at Chua Chu Kang. Bargain hunters are also known to trawl the food factories at Woodlands Terrace to pick up treats at wholesale prices, especially before the festive season.
On the plus side, nature lovers living in Woodlands don’t have to travel too far for nature activities. The 11ha Woodlands Waterfront Park offers scenic views of the Straits of Johor along a 1.5km-long promenade. Dining options are also available on the jetty located within the park. Avid cyclists in the estate can take on the challenging and undulating paths and terrains within the park, all part of the wider and more comprehensive network of park connectors called the Northern Explorer Loop, stretching 25km.
Is Woodlands a good place to park your property investment dollar? As many of its development plans are still in their infancy, investors may not see immediate profits. However, it is likely that as they come to fruition, property owners will stand to make considerable gains, just like the homeowners in Tampines and Jurong East regional centres did, especially when property prices at Woodlands now are still low. However, as with all investments, do err on the side of caution and crunch your numbers carefully.
DID YOU KNOW
The crossborder Causeway connecting Singapore and Johor Baru was launched in 1923.