Hotel developer promises not to tear down Penang icon

Hotel developer promises not to tear down Penang icon

GEORGE TOWN - The developer of a proposed six-star boutique hotel in Penang's Millionaires Row has given its assurance that the iconic Soonstead mansion on its grounds will be conserved.

BSG Property's business development manager Chong Hock Aun said the 103-year-old mansion, which was bought over by the late tycoon Tan Sri Loh Boon Siew, had been restored to its former glory in recent years and there were no plans to demolish it.

"As a trusted brand name, we want to give back to the community and will not build something that would damage the heritage value of such buildings," he said.

This was the first time the developer was publicly commenting on the building since an online petition campaign was launched on Aug 22 by the Penang Heritage Trust (PHT) to save the mansion in Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah.

Chong said that no part of the house would be taken down and that the proposed hotel development would enhance the value of the mansion and the surrounding area of Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah.

PHT president Khoo Salma Nasution said the heritage trust was not picking on any developer, but merely looking at facts.

"An application for the development at the Soonstead site has been submitted to the Penang Municipal Council and is now pending approval.

"We saw the planning application and our heritage alert is based on that. That's why we started this petition: to appeal to the council in the interest of the public," she said, adding that they were concerned the development of a 11-storey tower block might cause the house's dining room wing and annexe buildings to be demolished.

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