A plot of waterfront land that was once home to the Kallang Gas Works and left mostly vacant for years is set to be transformed into a vibrant private residential district as part of government plans.
Residents and businesses in the vicinity cheered the move, hoping that the made-over Kampong Bugis will inject some excitement to an area viewed by some as old and predominantly occupied by elderly residents.
"It's mostly old people living around here now," said Madam Yang Xiu Ling, 49, who has been running a hair salon at a nearby housing estate for the past 17 years.
"It's good to have some young families moving in. The location is good, and it's convenient to go to anywhere from here."
The 17.4 ha site - which is bounded by Kallang Road, Kallang River and Crawford Street - will be tendered out to a master developer, who will be given greater flexibility to plan and develop the entire precinct, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said in Parliament on Tuesday.
This is a change from the usual practice, where the Government offers land to developers on a plot-by-plot basis.
The broad idea is to turn Kampong Bugis into a car-lite residential precinct, with a network of walkways and cycling paths that will connect its 4,000 homes to nearby MRT stations and the scenic Kallang River promenade.
Having a master developer take charge means room for "exciting" features or test-bedding of innovative ideas that will give Kampong Bugis a unique character, said R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng.
He added that most estates in Singapore are similar to one another. "There isn't any major dynamics surrounding each estate," he added. "(It's) very different from Hong Kong, where Kowloon is spartan and spontaneous, Hong Kong Island is more commercial and upmarket, and New Territories is more of spacious, new residential estates."
Mr Alan Cheong, Singapore research head for real-estate firm Savills, noted the size of the project, as 4,000 flats is equivalent to about 10 mid-sized condominiums.
Measures should be in place to prevent an oversupply of new private residential units, such as allowing the developer to adjust the supply and launch of the units according to prevailing market conditions, he said.
The Kampong Bugis area is home to a few buildings: the Sri Manmatha Karuneshvarar Temple, The Riverine by the Park condominium and the Ture building, which houses eatery Kilo Kallang. Another condominium, Kallang Riverside, is under construction.
Civil servant S. Mohan, 65, who visits the Hindu temple twice a week, said the area lacks sheltered walkways linking the temple to the nearby Lavender MRT station and the waterfront.
"It's very good that they are adding facilities to this place. I think it'll attract a lot of people to this area," she added.