Developed by MCC Land, The Santorini is a recently completed 597-unit condominium in Tampines.

Tampines has transformed over the years from a sparsely populated settlement into one of the largest housing estates in Singapore, complete with high-rise apartments, a new mega lifestyle hub and several MRT stations, making it an ideal neighbourhood for young families.

By Joanne Poh

Tampines is a hive of activity in eastern Singapore. The new town is Singapore’s third largest, as well as its third most populated. Its amenities, however, are second to none.

Despite the many malls, community spaces and facilities, one of the area’s biggest claims to fame in recent years has been the opening of IKEA Tampines in 2006.

The store is a behemoth that is visible from the expressway, and a mandatory stop for the many young families building a home in this neighbourhood.

There is a lot more in store for Tampines in the near future, which continues to grow and will very soon welcome more than a thousand young families in an upcoming Build-To-Order (BTO) flat launch.

A carefully planned town

Like much of Singapore, Tampines has a rural past and received its name from the tempinis, or ironwood trees, that littered the area. Unlike some of Singapore’s other neighbourhoods, Tampines was sparsely populated, with few farms and villages punctuating an otherwise undisturbed landscape.

Plantations and sand quarries stood in the area until construction of the housing estate and new town commenced in 1978. As late as about 1987, parts of Tampines were still being used for military training.

Over a period of about 10 years, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) resettled more than 3,000 villagers so that the area’s infrastructure could be developed.

The new town compromises several neighbourhoods which were built in stages, the first two of which were completed between 1983 and 1987. By the end of the 1980s, the town centre and some of the key divisions including Tampines North, East, West and Changkat started to take shape.

Construction would, however, continue over the years, with another two neighbourhoods being completed only in 1997, and Tampines North New Town’s first BTO flats announced as recently as 2014.

In 1992, Tampines won the World Habitat Award, which was conferred by the United Nation’s Building and Social Housing Foundation for being a remarkable settlement.

In many ways, Tampines has become an archetype of the HDB new towns Singaporeans have come to associate with their country.

Eye on Tampines

 A self-sufficient neighbourhood

As one of Singapore’s most established mature towns, Tampines is extremely well-equipped in terms of infrastructure and facilities.

Ismail Gafoor, CEO of PropNex Realty, said: “Tampines is an all-encompassing estate which houses an array of amenities such as established shopping malls, sports and recreation facilities, offices and more. One can live, work, shop and dine in their own estate conveniently without leaving for the other areas of Singapore.”

Indeed, the Tampines area is served by not one or two but three shopping malls, namely Tampines Mall, Century Square and Tampines 1, which comprise supermarkets, cinemas, restaurants and bookstores.

Benjamin Gan, a 26-year-old project manager, has been living in the Tampines area for three years. He enjoys the convenience of being close to his workplace at Changi Business Park, and also cites Tampines 1 as a one-stop-shop for most of his needs.

“There are so many eateries at Tampines 1 that I often drop by for dinner on the way home from work, or before meeting my friends in town. As it is right beside the MRT station, it is very convenient. I often eat at Sushi Express, which is located right at the mall’s entrance, or Pepper Lunch.”

But it is most certainly IKEA’s Tampines Retail Park outlet which has turned Tampines into a popular weekend destination for residents of other areas.

IKEA stands alongside Courts and Giant, and together the three home furnishing heavyweights have transformed the area into a must-visit destination for new homeowners.

Tampines Regional Centre is also home to a slew of amenities that make the town self-sufficient.

The much-anticipated Tampines Town Hub opened last year to much fanfare, giving Tampines Regional Centre a boost that has made it one of Singapore’s most exciting town centres.

The integrated community and lifestyle hub features a 5,000-seat stadium with a high-quality football pitch, six purpose-built swimming pools, the largest kids’ playground in Tampines, and a sports and recreation park with two futsal courts, one hockey court and four tennis courts.

Ismail said: “The rustic appeal of Tampines is something that makes it attractive, with its proximity to beaches and parks such as Changi Village, East Coast Park and so on.”

Gan agreed. “I often go to Pasir Ris or East Coast Park on the weekends or weeknight evenings. There are also many decent bars at Changi City Point, close to my workplace.”

The proximity of established international schools such as the United World College of Southeast Asia and the British Council Preschool has also made the area popular amongst both local and expat families.

Connectivity to the area was boosted by the opening in October 2017 of Downtown Line 3, which introduced two new stations to the area – Tampines West and Tampines East, in addition to the existing Tampines station, which is served by both the East-West and Downtown lines.

“The new Downtown Line 3 provides better access for residents to areas such as Fort Canning, Bencoolen, Jalan Besar, Bendemeer, Geylang Bahru, Mattar, MacPherson, Ubi, Kaki Bukit, Bedok North, Bedok Reservoir, Upper Changi and Expo,” said Ismail.

HDB flats in Tampines New Town. (Photo: Terence Ong, Wikimedia Commons)

Enduring popularity

A BTO launch is expected to take place in Tampines in February 2018, giving young couples the chance to purchase a unit in what is surely one of Singapore’s most sought-after mature estates.

Approximately 1,250 units of three-, four- and five-bedroom flats will be up for grabs in the upcoming BTO exercise.

There are also several private housing projects to look forward to in the area.

The Alps Residences, a 626-unit condominium that features design inspired by the Swiss Alps, will be helmed by MCC Land. The same developer launched another development – The Santorini – in the same area in 2014.

What is more, in April 2017, City Developments Limited (CDL) placed a winning bid of $370.1 million for a site at Tampines Avenue 10. Plans to build approximately 800 homes are in the works, and the development dubbed The Tapestry will reportedly come with its own childcare centre.

Ismail also highlighted the recent en bloc sale of Tampines Court, which is expected to yield a new development consisting of some 2,600 units.

According to Ismail, Tampines is also poised to benefit from new nearby centres of growth like Changi Business Park, Loyang Industrial Park and the newly-expanded Changi Airport.

Clearly, this mature town still has room for growth. To complement the new homes expected in Tampines North, a range of new amenities including a commercial centre, community club and schools are expected in the near future.

For those hoping to secure a unit in Tampines, be warned that the competition is fierce.

“Being a mature estate, there is a strong demand from couples who wish to stay in homes near to their parents who are currently residing in Tampines,” warned Ismail.

“In addition, like most mature estates, the undeveloped land in this area is scarce, thus existing properties in Tampines will always continue to be in strong demand due to the limited supply of new properties which can be added to the area.”

Did you know?

– Free shuttle buses are available from Tampines MRT station to IKEA Tampines every day. On weekdays, the shuttle bus also picks passengers up at Bedok MRT, and on weekends and public holidays from Sengkang MRT and Pasir Ris MRT.

– Tampines has its very own nature park. Named Tampines Eco Green, the beautiful park features hiking trails and a range of habitats including open grasslands, a secondary rainforest and freshwater wetlands.

– Tampines Regional Library houses the largest collection of Chinese books of all the branches in the National Library network.


  The PropertyGuru News & Views   This article was first published in the print version PropertyGuru News & Views. Download PDFs of full print issues or read more stories now!