has become the new landmark of Woodlands Regional Centre, which is just 15 minutes drive from Provence Residence
. It boasts of the first Grade A-like offices, latest F&B and retail offerings, connectivity to the neighbouring buildings and the Woodlands MRT station.
The 99-year leasehold integrated, commercial development at Woodlands Central was completed last February and is jointly developed by property giant Far East Organization, its listed entity Far East Orchard, and Japanese developer Sekisui House.
It sits on a 199,874 sq ft plot of land and comprises four commercial towers that have a gross floor area of 699,557 sq ft, including about 53,820 sq ft of retail space. Grade A-like office units take up 90% of the available space while retail shops make up the remaining area. The retail mix includes a Superland Pre-school, an Anytime Fitness gym, and a variety of F&B options.
Woods Square is part of an overall plan to revitalise Woodlands Regional Centre. In December 2018, the government released a 2.75ha white site at Woodlands Avenue 2 for sale under the Reserve List. The white site at Woodlands Avenue is also located within Woodlands Central, the commercial node of Woodlands Regional Centre. The upcoming Woodlands North Coast, a mixed-use waterfront precinct that will include residential, industrial and business park spaces, also sits within the Woodlands Regional Centre.
In the future, Woodlands Regional Centre will form part of the Northern Agri-Tech and Food Corridor, running from Lim Chu Kang to Senoko in Sembawang. The area will include high-tech farms and food processing companies.
Woods Square is linked to two existing commercial developments, Woodlands Civic Centre and Causeway Point shopping mall. The developer says that by the end of 2Q2021, an underground pedestrian linkway will connect all three commercial developments to Woodlands MRT Interchange on the North-South Line and the Thomson-East Coast Line.
Woods Square will also benefit from increased cross-border travel between Malaysia and Singapore when the Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) commences passenger service in five years. The 4km cross-border RTS link will connect passengers between the Singapore terminus in Woodlands North and Johor’s Bukit Chagar station.
The 2019 Master Plan laid down plans to turn Woodlands Regional Centre into a walkable, pedestrian-centric zone. The August 2020 Build-To-Order (BTO) exercise included a new 1,785-unit BTO development opposite Woodlands station called UrbanVilla @ Woodlands. The development comprises eight residential blocks ranging from 14 to 32 storeys.
Existing residential neighbourhoods around Woods Square include the HDB towns at Admiralty, Woodgrove, Marsiling, and Woodlands.
The developers expect most companies taking up office space at Woods Square will utilise it as branch offices for employees living around Woodlands. There could also be some Malaysian companies that want prime office space that is closer to the Causeway.
"The future development of an agriculture-tech corridor in Woodlands could also see some of these businesses open front-facing offices for client servicing and sales teams, while remaining close to their factories," says Cheryl Huan, chief operating officer, sales & leasing group, Far East Organization.
In response to these office demands, Woods Square features a new type of office layout called the Small Office Loft Office (SOLO) concept. There are 101 SOLO units that range from 495 sq ft to 1,800 sq ft and come with a furniture platform and a 5m-high ceiling.
SOLO units are located in two office towers called SOLO 1 and SOLO 2 that are the only two blocks connected by a sky deck with amenities. All four office blocks are also connected by a linkway on the second floor.
Grade-A office demand
Typical office units are also available at the other two office towers which are called Tower 1 and Tower 2. Tower 1 comprises 365 office units that range in size from 549 sq ft to 5,339 sq ft, and it is the only block where non-SOLO office units can be purchased since office units in Tower 2 are only available for lease.
According to the developer, 75% of the available office space at Tower 2 is currently occupied. Units in this building range from 1,378 sq ft to 9,849 sq ft and the average floor plate is about 22,000 sq ft. The average monthly rent starts from $5.90 psf.
The office blocks for sale comprise Tower 1, SOLO 1, and SOLO 2 with 466 office units. But only 208 of these units have been launched for sale so far, with units ranging in size from 549 sq ft to 5,339 sq ft. Prices start from $1.04 million.
Overall, Woods Square has received relatively strong office demand and about 70% of the total available units in Tower 1, SOLO 1, and SOLO 2 have been sold, according to figures provided by the developer.
"Most office tenants were only able to start moving into their new office spaces at Woods Square at the end of 2020 due to disruptions from the Covid-19 pandemic. These included the “circuit breaker” period and difficulties caused by split-team arrangements, while some of the retail shops are expected to finish fitting out their units by the end of 1Q2021," says Huan.
Far East Organization is one of the anchor tenants at Woods Square, and the property developer has taken up 73,200 sq ft across three floors in Tower 2. The company says it will be used as a satellite office, something the company says it had already been looking into before remote working became the default in Singapore.
"The company is making available some of its meeting rooms and the boardroom to tenants at Wood Square for a nominal fee. Booking these rooms can be done through the Woods Square mobile application, which also doubles up as the security pass to access the office tower," says Huan.
Other anchor tenants at Woods Square include Qiren Organisation, an authorised representative of AIA Singapore, who has taken up the top two office floors in Tower 2, with total office space of about 36,000 sq ft. UOB Commercial Banking and Mitsubishi Materials Japan have also taken up office space at Woods Square.
Green Mark Gold Plus
Woods Square was designed by local architecture firm DP Architects. The glass exterior of the commercial blocks is broken up with regular pockets of greenery and landscaping, inspired by Woodland’s past as a heavily forested area.
A small grove of young rubber trees has also been planted in the garden at Tower 1 as a link to Woodlands’ past as a rubber plantation estate.
The architecture injects pockets of greenery throughout the office space and the public areas, such as landscaped terraces and corridors. The roof deck of the two SOLO office blocks also features an outdoor Sky Deck Bridge that connects both buildings. Facilities on the Sky Deck Bridge include meeting rooms, open-air pavilions, a gym, a swimming pool, and two lookout points.
The other two high-rise office towers also feature roof deck amenities including more open-air pavilions and gardens.
The amount of greenery and landscaping on all the roof areas was one reason the building was conferred the Green Mark Gold Plus award in the non-residential building category in 2018 by the Building and Construction Authority.
Other green features of the development that were commended included relatively high energy and water savings and sustainably sourced construction materials during its development.
Woods Square stands to benefit from its first-mover advantage as the newest Grade-A office development in central Woodlands, catering to businesses who want a branch office in the northern region of Singapore.
The overall take-up rate at Woods Square suggests that companies are willing to establish themselves early in a growth area. Far East Organization, for one, has reaped the benefits of being a first-mover in new areas.
Being the first integrated commercial development with Grade-A quality office space in Woodlands Regional Centre bodes well for Woods Square, as more companies move to the area, creating more employment opportunities and resulting in more people moving north to live.