New Marina South draws keen interest

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THE planned new district of Marina South with its promise of green touches such as bike paths and a vibrant street scene is already generating keen interest.

Office workers and joggers who flock to nearby Marina Bay in the evening say they are looking forward to new dining options as well as longer, more scenic jogging routes.

These are features that will entice Mr Simon Ho to visit the area. Mr Ho, who takes a daily walk from his home in Tiong Bahru to Marina Bay, said he would definitely extend his route down to the Marina South seafront.

Mr Ho told The Straits Times during his walk on Wednesday: "As long as there's connectivity, people will go. As someone who exercises frequently, you are always looking for a challenge in a longer distance."

Marina Bay resident Efraim Goldberg hopes the new buildings will not block his view of the sea, although he noted that "views are never guaranteed when you live in a small, crowded city".

"Singaporeans should have more places to walk, jog or cycle," added Mr Goldberg.

Marina South will have cafes, restaurants and amenities that already dot the Central Business District, but in an even bigger way, according to ideas put forward in the Draft Master Plan 2013 released on Wednesday.

The aim is to have an urban residential district characterised by "fenceless" private housing and mixed-use developments to encourage social interaction.

The ideas also include an 800m pedestrian street and an underground mall linking the Marina South and Gardens by the Bay MRT stations. An elevated walkway leading from Bay South Garden to the Marina South seafront will also be built.

A network of underground carparks connecting different buildings will reduce ground-level traffic and create a friendly environment for pedestrians and cyclists.

The idea of having a wealth of dining and shopping options during the lunch hour appeals to many office workers employed near the Marina South site.

However, bank worker Nicole Wong noted that dining by the waterfront could be costly, so she hopes a food centre will spring up too.

Ms Belinda Koh, also a bank employee, said the extra carparks would ease the parking crunch in the city, although she suspects fees will not be cheap given the costs at Marina Bay.

Property consultants have a more jaded view of the planners' vision. They say the fenceless development proposed for the area is not unusual as this already exists in places such as Robertson Quay. It is also common to have residential buildings in Tanjong Pagar and Raffles Place without gated compounds.

Century21 chief executive Ku Swee Yong added that residents of Marina South would be largely made up of expatriates, few of whom would be long-term occupiers. This could pose a challenge in integrating the community.

"I don't think you can bring a community closer simply because you design a fenceless property. It can only happen when residents grow close to each other," said Mr Ku.

ocheryl@sph.com.sg

Source: Straits Times, 23 Nov 2013