The Outram area with construction at the upcoming SGH Campus (left), the construction of One Pearl Bank (right) and the soon-to-open Thomson-East Coast Line phase 3, which will include the Outram Park MRT Station, an interchange for three train lines (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - In June this year, URA unveiled its key strategies for the Central Area. It has been recognised that in order to have a vibrant 24/7 lifestyle destination, it has to create more residential communities. The three areas it has identified are the hillside enclaves at York Hill and Pearl’s Hill, the waterfront housing at Rochor Canal and the urban neighbourhood at Marina South.
Another key strategy is to connect the parks and open spaces by “enhancing existing green and blue spaces” like Fort Canning Park, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore River, Marina Bay, Botanic Gardens and Pearl’s Hill City Park. URA’s plan is to turn Orchard Road into “a lush green corridor” connecting Botanic Gardens and Fort Canning Park.
URA also wants to encourage active mobility by providing cycling paths that link up MRT stations to encourage more people to go car-lite. Another reason is to celebrate Singapore’s arts, culture and heritage in areas such as Bras Basah, Bugis, Little India, Chinatown and Kampong Glam.
Outram area, with the Outram Park MRT station an interchange for three lines: East-West, North East and the upcoming Thomson-East Coast Lines (Source: EdgeProp Landlens)
Outram will be a beneficiary of URA’s key strategies given its location, says Elizabeth Choong, EdgeProp Singapore’s property research analyst in her Aug 6 presentation. It was the first in the EdgeProp Singapore NDP Master Plan Master Class webinar series held this month.
Part of the Central Region of Singapore, Outram covers an area of 136.2ha. This is larger than Gardens by the Bay (101ha) but smaller than Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (163ha). It is bounded by the CBD, Tanjong Pagar and Cantonment Road-Outram Road.
There are four subzones within Outram: Pearl’s Hill, People’s Park, China Square and Chinatown. It has a population of about 18,430, as stated in the Singapore population census 2020. About 59% of the residents of Outram are owner-occupiers and 40% are tenants, according to EdgeProp Singapore’s Landlens.
Construction is underway at One Pearl Bank, with the project scheduled for completion by end 2023 (Photo: Albert Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
“Outram serves as a transition point from the offices in the CBD to the high-end condos in the Robertson Quay and River Valley areas and the heartlands of Bukit Merah,” observes Choong.
There are two hills in Outram, namely Pearl’s Hill and York Hill. At York Hill are the affordable housing flats developed by HDB. Meanwhile, Pearl’s Hill Terrace previously housed the police operational headquarters, including the operations command, radio division, criminal investigation and the police national service headquarters. Today, the building at Pearl’s Hill Terrace has been turned into a vibrant arts enclave. (Find HDB flats for rent or sale with our Singapore HDB directory)
In the past, Pearl’s Hill was the location of many early institutional buildings. These included the Seamen’s Hospital, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, and one of Singapore’s earliest prisons, Pearl’s Hill Prison (also known as Outram Road Gaol).
Hotel Re! is the first hotel to be converted from a former primary school building, Pearl's Hill School. Behind it is the Pearl's Hill City Park (Photo: Albert Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
The former prison complex at Pearl’s Hill was demolished and replaced by Outram Park Complex, a public housing and shopping complex that opened in 1970. It was one of the largest public housing projects undertaken by the URA. The complex was demolished in 2003 for redevelopment.
Hotel Re at Pearl’s Hill is said to be the first hotel to be converted from a former primary school building, Pearl’s Hill School. It was considered the tallest school in Singapore in 1971.
Adjacent to the former Outram Park Complex was the 38-storey Pearl Bank Apartments. The horseshoe-shaped building with 288 apartments was considered Singapore’s tallest residential tower when it was completed in June 1976. After four failed collective sale attempts, including a bid to conserve the building, Pearl Bank Apartments was sold en bloc to CapitaLand for $728 million in February 2018. CapitaLand is redeveloping the site into the new 774-unit One Pearl Bank.
The site of the former Landmark Tower, which will be redeveloped into The Landmark (Photo: Albert Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
The stage has been set for further rejuvenation in the Outram area, with a number of other en bloc deals taking place in 2018 — at the height of the last collective sale boom, before the July 2018 property cooling measures. The former Chinatown Plaza, a freehold mixed-use development, was sold to the Tonato family-controlled Royal Golden Eagle for $268 million in February 2018. Construction is underway for the new 300-room luxury hotel, Mondrian Singapore. It is targeted to open next year and marks the first Mondrian hotel in the city-state. The hotel will be managed by Accor.
Meanwhile, Landmark Tower was sold en bloc for $286 million to a consortium made up of SSLE Development, ZACD Group and MCC Land in May 2018. It was launched in November 2020 as the new 396-unit The Landmark. (See potential condos with en bloc calculator)
At People’s Park Complex, the car park was offered for sale, and it was picked up for $39.3 million by Lucky Pinnacle, an entity of Far East Organization in August 2021. The car park space occupies 182,340 sq ft in strata area, the equivalent of 26% of the total strata area at People’s Park Complex. This gives the new owner a decisive stake in any future collective sale. People’s Park Complex, a strata mixed-use development with apartments and shops, was built in 1972.
People’s Park Centre was launched for collective sale at a price tag of $1.8 billion, with its tender closing on Aug 18 (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp SIngapore)
Nearby, People’s Park Centre was launched for collective sale at a price tag of $1.8 billion, with the tender closing on Aug 18.
Another catalyst for growth in the Outram area is the 20-year master plan for the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) Campus, which was unveiled by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in 2016. The sprawling 43 ha campus will be transformed into a “vibrant public ecosystem with interconnected zones for patient care, research and education”.
Together with SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre, SGH Campus will be able to offer a spectrum of healthcare services. They currently serve 33% of the nation’s healthcare needs. To meet growing healthcare needs beyond 2030, the Master Plan will expand current capacity by intensifying land use. When completed, patient care and other healthcare-related facilities will take up 60% of the 43ha campus. Social and recreational amenities will also be included in the new campus.
The new amenities taking shape at the SGH Campus bodes well for future owner-occupiers and property investors in the Outram area. Over the past decade, prices of condominiums in the Outram area have been increasing steadily, hitting a high of $2,413 psf, based on EdgeProp Singapore’s Market Trends. The existing condominiums in the Outram area have achieved rental rates ranging from $3.70 to $5.70 psf per month.
Together with SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre, SGH Campus will be able to offer a spectrum of healthcare services (Photo: Albert Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Three MRT Lines, Pearl’s Hill City Park upgrade
The game-changer is the Outram Park MRT Station located at the junction of Outram Road, Eu Tong Sen Street and New Bridge Road. It is the existing interchange for the East-West and North East Lines. Activation of the Thomson-East Coast Line in the Outram area started with the compulsory acquisition of Pearl’s Centre by the Land Transport Authority in 2012. The owners were issued a compensation of $450 million.
A decade later, the third phase of the Thomson-East Coast Line, which includes the Outram Park MRT Station, is set to open later this month. “When it opens, Outram MRT Station will be one of the few stations with three lines running through,” says Choong. “That will greatly enhance the accessibility of the area.”
The future residents of One Pearl Bank will be the main beneficiaries as the project is located within a five-minute walk of the Outram Park MRT Station via a sheltered walkway. Developer CapitaLand will also have a side gate with direct access to the Pearl’s Hill City Park.
Construction is currently underway at the Pearl’s Hill City Park, with the addition of a new playground and social spaces for people to gather. (Photo: Albert Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Construction is currently underway at the Pearl’s Hill City Park, with the addition of a new playground and social spaces for people to gather. This is part of the government’s plan to inject more “green and blue spaces” into the built environment, and its vision to transform Singapore into a “City in Nature”.
In the future, there will be a seamless connection for people to walk “from hill to hill” — from Fort Canning Park to Pearl’s Hill City Park via the Singapore River.