The Eastern Economic Gateway
Strengthening Economic Gateways in Singapore
In the 2019 draft master plan unveiled by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), four economic gateways were earmarked to provide real estate opportunities for the future economy. These gateways, comprising key employment nodes and infrastructure that connect Singapore globally, will be further developed to deepen linkages to external markets and strengthen the island state’s hub status.
The Eastern Gateway, essentially the Changi Region, is anticipated to take off significantly within the next decade. It is a strategic endeavour to gain competitiveness in the global aviation landscape and grow the aviation sector as one of the key economic drivers for Singapore.
Proposed Economic Gateways of Singapore
Birth of Changi’s next lap of grand plans – Jewel Changi Airport
Officially opened on 17 April 2019 and receiving numerous global mentions, Jewel Changi Airport (‘Jewel’) is the latest showcase and icon for Singapore. Redeveloped on the former open-air carpark at a cost of S$1.7 billion, the new 10-storey mixed-use development by Changi Airport Group and CapitaLand joint-venture takes shopping, dining and enjoyment to a new refreshing stratosphere. Spanning across 1.46 million sq ft of floor area and boosting spectacular green and blue features, the Jewel showcases a four-storey, 227,000 sq ft “Forest Valley”, and the world’s tallest indoor waterfall “Rain Vortex” at 40 metres high. Over 280 shopping and dining facilities, with a play component at the Canopy Park and the Sky Nets attraction, keep visitors and passengers longer and happier in the Jewel. To cater to the needs of passengers, travel-related amenities such as flexible accommodation options are available at YOTELAIR, as well as early check-in and baggage storage facilities.
The goal for the development of Jewel was to strengthen Changi’s position as a leading air transport hub and enhance its appeal as a stopover destination for passengers, while also creating an appealing new shopping and recreational destination for the locals.
Jewel typifies what the Singapore government strives to create – a new vibrant ecosystem through mixed-use developments and districts designed with work-live-play-learn components injected across the country, as depicted in the URA Draft Master Plan 2019.
Motivations behind Changi Region Transformation
To realise the grand vision of “the Business Gateway to the World”, Changi Region will be positioned as a vibrant and thriving economic hub for businesses that maximise synergies with Changi Airport. With the Terminal 1 expansion and Jewel completed, plans are underway for Terminal 5 (T5), to be completed by 2030 after almost three decades of planning. T5 will be a mega terminal with two satellite terminals that would eventually be able to handle up to 70 million passengers a year.
Plans to transform Changi Region also include strategic precincts namely Changi City and Changi Aviation Park. These areas have been earmarked to provide a significant boost in capacity for Changi Airport’s future growth as a strategic aviation hub, raising its economic contribution and Singapore’s status to the world.
- Changi City
An expanded designated area – Changi City could become a future eastern waterfront district. It is positioned to offer new recreational and tourism possibilities and seamless inter-modal “fly-ferry” linkages from T5.
Changi City will leverage on the proximity of Singapore University of Technology and Design and Changi Business Park to create an “innovative ecosystem with a live-in community” to attract businesses and institutions involved with freight transportation or aviation-related Research & Development, including artificial intelligence and robotics technology.
Near Changi City is the new Changi East Urban District, also close to T5. It will have offices, smart work centres, flexible conference rooms and halls, hotels and serviced apartments, all set within landscaped public spaces.
- Changi Aviation Park
Providing a boost to the aviation industry, the existing air cargo cluster can be expanded with the Changi East Industrial Zone and cater to new aviation-related sectors and businesses that rely on air connectivity to the world. The entire area will be designated as Changi Aviation Park.
Cross Island MRT Line connecting to Changi
With the Cross Island Line phase 1 slated to complete by 2029, the added MRT transport connectivity from various parts of Singapore to Changi strengthens its accessibility for Singapore residents, working community and international visitors.
This new MRT Line, set to improve transport networks to Changi Region significantly, will increase commuter traffic across Singapore and uncover real estate development opportunities on land plots near the Cross Island Line stations.
What does this plan entail for Singapore’s real estate market?
Supported by Changi Airport’s enduring position as the world’s best airport, the latest marvel of Jewel and the URA master plan are envisioned to propel Changi Airport’s growth amid intensifying competition in the region. Arising from the anticipated influx of passengers, businesses and workforce as Changi Region transforms, the outcome will be extensive and multi-faceted for Singapore’s economy, benefitting various related and complementary sectors. Real estate will be a key beneficiary, with tourism, hospitality and industrial sectors poised to grow at Changi Region.
For the business community, various industry clusters especially logistics and aviation-related enterprises will find Changi attractive due to better connectivity to the airport and supporting facilities. However, for recreation and tourism sectors, more thoughts need to be invested in conceptualising the precise types of offerings that will be unique for Changi, to augment the overall ‘Singapore experience’ and extend the visitor’s patronage not just within Changi but also to other places in Singapore. In addition, some level of flexible planning will be required, so that the future tourist and recreational developments in Changi will be adjusted in line with market trends and not cannibalise the other existing and upcoming tourist attractions under planning.
Potential Appeal of Changi Region to property investors
Future land sites available for development in this region are likely to appeal to investors who have plans to expand their commercial and business park investment portfolio. Singapore remains popular for many enterprises and property investors, owing to its hub and gateway status, ease of doing business and clarity in urban development plans. Should the tourism endeavour in Changi City waterfront district be of a reasonably large scale on the offing, we might see some overseas investors joining the fraternity of property development and operations business in Changi.
Invariably, the continuing growth of business, recreational and tourism-related developments in Changi Region in the longer term will thereon support the introduction of new residential precincts. Residential demand for existing and upcoming private home projects will likely stem from both investment and owner-occupation objectives, with a desire to tap on the multiple advantages of proximity to an aviation hub. In addition, hospitality-related facilities will be suitable for Changi Region and investor interest to acquire and develop such assets to meet the needs of transient/short-term stayers is anticipated to be satisfied with healthy response.
Photo credit: Jewel Changi Airport Devt