SINGAPORE: Madam Chan Yoke Yin has been working at a bakery located on the ground floor of Block 303 Choa Chu Kang Avenue 4 for the past 10 years.
The bakery is among the eight shops at Block 303, an HDB multistorey car park with ground-level shops, that will close by Nov 29 next year after the Government announced on Wednesday (May 9) it will acquire the land the block is sitting on to construct the new Jurong Region Line.
The 55-year-old said she is feeling resigned that her time at the bakery will come to an end in another one-and-a-half years.
“There is nothing much to be said when the Government wants to take back land … Of course, we will feel sad. We have worked here for so many years."
She also said she is unsure of her future plans, adding that it will depend on her boss’ decision.
It is not just staff working at the eight shops at Block 303 who will be affected after the Government acquires the land. Residents living around the area who often patronise the shops will also have fewer options to choose from.
Mr Alex Chua, 21, who works in a hardware store under the block, said that senior citizens frequently visit the NTUC-operated food court located just two units from his workplace.
“They chit chat, sometimes they order food, it's quite cheap for them. So it's a bit sudden when they want to close down. I don't know where the senior citizens can go to eat,” said Mr Chua, who also lives in the vicinity.
Besides the closure of the ground-level shops, residents will also lose the multistorey car park above the shops.
Mr CK Cheung has been living at a block located just across the multistorey car park for more than 20 years. He uses the car park daily as there are limited parking lots near his home.
The 67-year-old was not aware that the Government plans to acquire the site until reporters told him.
He told reporters that he was "very disappointed", despite being told that a temporary car park will be provided.
The Land Transport Authority and Singapore Land Authority stated in a joint media release that a new permanent car park will be built in the vicinity, although its exact location has not been determined.
In the meantime, the temporary car park will be where the current Choa Chu Kang bus interchange is located.
Block 303 will be the only land plot which the Government will have to fully acquire. Another 19 part-lots of land and four pockets of air space, used to build elevated structures like overhead bridges and rail tracks, will be partially acquired but will not affect any existing buildings.
MINIMAL IMPACT FROM ACQUISITIONS: ANALYSTS
Property analysts Channel NewsAsia spoke to generally agreed that the overall impact from these land acquisitions will be minimal.
International Property Advisor CEO Ku Swee Yong said that the financial costs required to acquire the land will not be too high.
“Most of these properties that are going to be acquired, with the exception of the multistorey car park which is commercial, the rest of them seem to be industrial land that is on relatively short 15- or 30-year leases,” he said.
But there is no consensus as to how this new rail line will benefit the Jurong district.
While analysts agreed that the new stations will improve accessibility for workers travelling to industrial areas, such as the Jurong Innovation District and the Tuas mega port, as well as Nanyang Technological University students, Mr Ku said that the trains might be under-utilised as it will only be used during the peak hours of a weekday and when school terms are taking place.
He also added that at most 10 out of the 24 stations serve a high-density residential neighbourhood.
“Peng Kang Hill is actually where we charge up the mountain, it's an SAF live firing training area. Why is there a station called Peng Kang Hill?” he said.
Mr Ku also said that the real estate value of the Jurong precinct will probably increase, but only up to a level that is “equal to the rest of the estates that are better served”.
But Cushman & Wakefield senior director of research Christine Li said that the new Jurong Region Line is the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle in the development of Jurong, given that the Singapore-Malaysia High-Speed Rail will also start operating in 2026.