Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia's Eco World Development Group is planning a mixed-development marina and an international-standard golf course on some 470 acres of land in Batu Kawan on the Penang mainland.
The plan for the development, expected to establish its credentials as a township developer and major property player in the northern state, is among a number under contemplation by the state, which is looking to enhance investment and job opportunities and the affordability of housing.
Just two days ago, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng spoke about the need for better transport links; he disclosed that a 3 km cable car line would be built to link Butterworth on the mainland and George Town under the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).
The RM27 billion (S$10 billion) PTMP includes a 17.5 km LRT between Komtar and Penang International Airport.
Plans are also afoot for an undersea tunnel between the mainland and island and for a few other expressways - these to be built in exchange for the right to reclaim land at various locations.
But how soon these developments can get off the ground remains to be seen as some components require Federal government approval; already, there have been protracted delays to the PTMP.
But investors and developers have been undeterred.
Eco World, for instance, intends to spend RM796 million for about 450 acres of land for an "eco marina development" in the Bandar Cassia township; this excludes about 20 acres to be determined by the state for other purposes.
In a filing to the stock exchange on Thursday, Eco World said it had received a letter from state agency Penang Development Corporation (PDC) accepting its proposals for the purchase of 300 acres of 99-year leasehold land for RM731 million to develop residential and commercial properties, as well as for the lease of 150 acres of land for 30 years, with an option to renew for a further 30 years.
It will pay RM65 million for the second parcel, on which it has plans for the golf course and club house.
Eco World did not go into details, but local media reports, citing sources, described Eco Marina as a waterfront city with a shopping mall, hotels and serviced condominiums.
Asas Dunia chief executive Jerry Chan, who acquired a landbank in the area years earlier and at far lower rates, baulked at the more-than-RM50 per sq ft price (psf) paid by Eco World, now led by shareholders that include developer tycoon Liew Kee Sin, who used to helm SP Setia.
Mr Chan said: "Given their (high) entry cost, they will probably create something different and innovative. It will be good for the market as it will push the rest up."
The state government, via the PDC, is the largest landowner in Batu Kawan, which has attracted growing interest following the March 2014 opening of the second Penang bridge joining Batu Kawan with Batu Maung on Penang island.
The PDC's plans include an integrated development that will have a shopping centre anchored by Ikea; a Premium Outlet is also on the cards, with both projects to be completed around 2017-2018.
This article was first published on April 17, 2015.
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