Big developers set to vie for prime Woodlands site

PHOTO: Big developers set to vie for prime Woodlands site

Analysts tip that major developers will be lining up to have a tilt at a prime Woodlands commercial site launched for sale by public tender on Tuesday.

Property observers regard the 99-year leasehold plot in Woodlands Square as having huge potential, given the ambitious blueprint laid out for the area in the Draft Master Plan 2013.

The site is the first land to go on the market in the Woodlands Regional Centre since the master- plan was unveiled last month.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said on Tuesday that the site in the heart of Woodlands Central would be predominantly for offices.

Its launch is expected to kick- start development of both the Woodlands Regional Centre and the North Coast Innovation Corridor commercial belt.

Analysts said the site's draw is its proximity to transport links to Malaysia and the planning blueprints that see Woodlands turned into a regional centre.

"Given that the regional centre will be the closest link to our northern neighbours via the Causeway and the future cross- border rail link, a commercial node will be well-received by firms that may benefit from the cross-border proximity," said CBRE Research associate director Desmond Sim.

"Future commercial occupiers can also tap the growing residential workforce close by as well as the pool of qualifying workers across the Causeway."

R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng said the "successful recent makeover of Jurong East" would also boost developers' confidence.

He expects the top bid to come in between $850 per sq ft (psf) per plot ratio (ppr) and $1,100 psf ppr, while Mr Sim tips at least $1,000 psf ppr. Analysts expect between five and eight bids.

Mr Ong said the site would probably appeal more to large developers, which would likely see the site as an opportunity to have a flagship investment project in Woodlands.

Some medium-sized developers might forge joint ventures to bid for the plot but most may not want to be tied down by hefty development costs, he added.

A bid of $850 psf ppr would work out to a total value of $594.6 million.

The site has a maximum gross floor area of 699,556 sq ft, including subterranean space and a pedestrian link-bridge.

At least 90 per cent of that area must be used for offices. This is in line with plans for the Woodlands Regional Centre to be developed as a major employment hub in the north of Singapore, the URA said.

A further 5,382 sq ft at least must be used for childcare.

The site will be connected via pedestrian linkways to Causeway Point, the Woodlands Civic Centre, Woodlands MRT station and bus interchange, and the upcoming Thomson Line MRT station, added the URA.

The Woodlands Regional Centre is made up of Woodlands Central, which is slated to become a pedestrian-friendly retail hub, and Woodlands North Coast, which will house a business park cluster and have land set aside for small and medium-sized enterprises.

The site tender closes on April 8.

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