Power Combination – Mixed-Use Developments
A look into the new property typology of mixed-use developments where people will live, work, and play in one modern precinct.
Leong Boon Hoe, Chief Executive Officer, Arcadia Consulting Pte Ltd shares his insights
on the way forward in the property sector – to combine the merits of retail, residential and office elements into mixed-use developments.
When The Sail @ Marina Bay was completed in 2008, it caught people’s attention for several reasons. It was one of the first residential developments in the Marina Bay or New Downtown area. Residents enjoy a magnificent view of the bay and the city. Starchitects Peter Pran and Timothy Johnson with leading design firm NBBJ designed the sail-shaped twin towers. And it was, and still is, one of Singapore’s tallest residential development in the city. What many people may not remember is that it was one of the earlier mixed-use developments where the developer allocated some 29,000 sq ft of the total gross floor area for retail use on the ground floor, created an underground mall that also links to the Marina Bay Financial Centre, and onwards to Raffles Place Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Station.
Mixed-use developments combining residences with other real estate uses have been part of the Singapore property scene for some time. Within the Central Business District (CBD), Concourse Skyline (office/residential/retail), V on Shenton (residential/office), Duo (residential/office/retail/hotel) and recently Marina One (residential/office/retail) were the new additions to the city fabric dominated by office towers and lately, residential towers. Notably, Duo and Marina One probably signalled the coming of age of massive mixed-use developments with transportation linkages becoming important nodes of Singapore’s city extension and where activities gravitate (both developed by M+S Pte Ltd, a 60:40 joint venture by Malaysia’s strategic investment fund, Khazanah Nasional Berhad and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings (Private) Limited). Read about the Core Central Region’s rising boom here.
But mixed-use developments are not unique to Singapore’s city centre. In city fringe locations and the suburbs, there are also several of such developments with both residential with retail components, from Watertown in Punggol to Northpoint City in Yishun. Developments such as Sengkang Grand Residences even combine other community amenities such as a bus interchange or a community club. Mixed-use developments may also be linked to a vital transportation node, often an MRT station. Examples include Park Place Residences at Paya Lebar Quarter (residential/office/retail) by Australian developer Lendlease at Paya Lebar MRT station and The Woodleigh Residences (residential/retail) at Woodleigh MRT station.
In the central business district, some significant projects have taken the concept of mixed-use developments to new heights – some in more ways than one. The 290-metre tall Guoco Tower, Singapore’s tallest building, is much more than just about “mixing the different uses”. It is an integrated development – a vertical city with Wallich Residence, its luxury residences sitting on top Guoco Tower, a Grade A office tower. The development also boasts a five-star hotel, a retail mall, and even an urban park. And the project offers a direct connection to the Tanjong Pagar MRT Station.
Wallich Residence became world-famous when Mr James Dyson, founder of Dyson group, purchased the crown jewel of the luxury residential project – a 21,108-sq-ft triplex super penthouse – for a handsome sum of SGD 73.8 million (approx. USD 53.3 million). Another one of the latest integrated developments is The South Beach, a massive integrated development at the City Hall precinct. Luxury residences, Grade-A offices, retail podium, five-star hotel, the conservation and repurposing of the old NCO Club, and seamless connectivity to The Esplanade MRT Station and five-minutes’ walk to the City Hall and Bugis MRT Interchanges.
Outside the CBD and in one of Singapore’s most iconic neighbourhoods, Holland Village, another integrated development that offers residential, serviced residences, office and retail is currently being built. One Holland Village, jointly developed by Far East Organization, Sekisui House and Sino Group, will become the local landmark that is set to inject a new lease of life to the Holland Village that has lost some of its lustre of yesteryear.
Rejuvenating The Surroundings
Integrated developments, due to their scale and the seamless integration of the different uses to offer users and residents the true live-work-play lifestyle, have often also brought about the desirable effects of regenerating and rejuvenating the local area, or acting as the link or the nodal point for city expansion. Marina Bay Financial Centre kickstarted the development of the Marina Bay financial district. Marina One will provide a vital link to the future extension of the CBD to Marina South. Guoco Tower rejuvenated and regenerated Tanjong Pagar. Duo and The South Beach extended the centre business district beyond Raffles Place towards Ophir/Beach Road and City Hall respectively.
Guoco Midtown – Leading The Way
The next significant mixed-use development in the works is Guoco Midtown. The development sits on a massive footprint of 3.2 hectares in the Bugis-Beach Road. Comprising ten different buildings, including one that is to be preserved and repurposed, and 20 gardens, Guoco Midtown will be one of the most significant and green developments within the expanded CBD. The project will comprise Grade A office space, more than 50,000 sq ft of retail space, a five-storey business and social club, and two luxury residential developments – the 219-unit Midtown Bay, launched in October 2019, and a second right above the Bugis MRT interchange station. Apart from the integration of the different uses, connectivity also features very prominently in Guoco Midtown. The project will have access to a total of four MRT lines (East-West Line, Downtown Line, North-South Line and Circle Line.
Residences in mixed-use developments have been gaining much well-deserved attention from both local and international buyers. These integrated developments are extensive, seamlessly combining several different uses that they become cities within the city. Such seamless integration of work, shop, eat, play, live and connect means residents will not have to leave the comfort of their compound to get things done. Residences within such integrated developments are thus able to attract investors’ and tenants’ attention, and often command prices and rents other stand-alone residential towers may not be able to fetch. In recent years, the traditional office and residential real estate markets have seen disruptors in the form of co-working and co-living concepts proliferating. Singapore developers have also started future-proofing their projects by embracing these changing trends. Touted to be a city of the future, Guoco Midtown will pioneer several innovations that change the way people think of their homes and offices.
A Novel Concept – Core and Flex Leasing
For one, the layout of the apartments at Midtown Bay, the residential tower within Guoco Midtown, will be tuned to the latest trends of co-working and co-living. One can easily turn his apartment into a home with an office or, an office within a home, and yet with enough space to live and entertain guests. One such example will be the duplex residential units where owners who use their homes as a home office has the flexibility to use the lower level of the apartment as office space and still enjoy his private sanctuary on the upper level.
Guoco Midtown will also feature its “core and flex” leasing concept and the Network Hub, a first-of-its-kind business and social club with private office suites for corporate meetings to rooms for seminars and even town hall meetings for up to 200 people. Traditional offices typically comprise core areas where employees work and ancillary spaces such as meeting and board rooms. With the Network Hub, Guoco Midtown office tenants will able to use the MICE facilities at the Network Hub as short-term swing spaces. This cutting-edge concept enables office tenants to keep their lease to what they need, but still have the flexibility to have the extra space when they need it.
Residential Network Hub For All
Residents of Midtown Bay will also enjoy exclusive membership to the Network Hub, where they can use the communal areas to hold discussions with a business associate or for hotdesking. Foreign homeowners looking to expand their businesses to Singapore could even choose to lease the office suites and use it as a temporary office. For the Ultra-High-Net-Worth (UHNW) individuals, Guoco Midtown’s Network Hub offers an opportunity to set up home offices and scale-up in the short term.
From The Sail @ Marina Bay at the New Downtown of Marina Bay, to a new Midtown being built in the city more than a decade later, Singapore’s real estate scene has continuously adapted to changes in people’s lifestyles. But more than that, in my opinion, Singapore real estate has influenced how people live, work and play.
Looking into the future, one can expect more mixed-use as well as integrated developments in critical areas marked by the Singapore Government as part of its Master Plan 2019, such as the Greater Southern Waterfront as well as Kampong Bugis. What other creative and innovative concepts can we expect from developers then? Whatever it is, I am sure it will change the face and fabric of Singapore’s real estate industry once again.
Boon Hoe is the founder and CEO of Arcadia Consulting Pte Ltd, a boutique real estate advisory and brokerage firm focusing on the marketing of luxury residences as well as cross-border investment brokerage. With a track record of over 20 years in managing projects and marketing premium real estate in Singapore and key cities in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, Boon Hoe advises clients from the acquisition stage, strategic marketing planning and execution, and divestment.