Indonesia's ex-President Habibie to build billion-dollar apartment project in Batam

PHOTO: Globe Asia

BATAM - The company of former president BJ Habibie, who ruled Indonesia from 1998-1999, is set to built luxury apartments worth a total of US$1 billion (S$1.42 billion) in Batam.

The project, which features 11 towers of apartments, offices, hotel rooms and a hospital on a nine-hectare plot of land, aims to attract buyers from Indonesia's neighboring countries, particularly Singapore.

Work on the project, called Meisterstadt, will start in the middle of this year,

Ilham Akbar Habibie, President Habibie's son and commissioner of his company, Pollux Habibie International, told at the project's launch in Batam on Saturday that the Meisterstadt superblock would be built in four stages.

"Initially, the plan to construct a hospital in the superblock was in the last will and testament of my mum (the late Ainun Habibie) it will be implemented in the third stage of this superblock's construction," said Ilham.

Pollux Properties Indonesia president commissioner Muladi, who was known as Habibie's right-hand man during the latter's presidential term, Batam Free Trade Zone Authority (BPK FTZ) head Mustofa Widjaja, Batam mayor Ahmad Dahlan and Meisterstadt Batam operational general manager Yosef Eduardus attended the ceremony.

Ilham said the property business in Batam was promising because the area was quite close to Singapore. The developer hoped Singaporeans would be the main buyers of the apartments.

"Singapore now has 5 million residents and it has continued to grow. We hope that we can benefit the country's population, particularly in the property sector," said Ilham.

He added: "It happened in Hong Kong in the 1950s, during which the region's population had flown to several provinces of the Chinese mainland near Hong Kong. We've now seen a similar situation in Guangdong, in which industries and businesses from Hong Kong have flown to the city.

"Such an effect will happen between Singapore and Batam."

Ilham said the company hoped that a third of the apartments in the superblock complex would be bought by foreigners while the remainder would be marketed to local buyers.

As many as 1,575 apartments in two of the towers, which will be built in the first stage of the construction project, have been booked by potential buyers with VVIP pass cards who attended the launch. In total, 1,874 VVIP pass cards were issued for the event.

Three sizes of apartments, namely 24.82 sq m, 42.51 sq m and 51.59 sq m, will be built in the first stage of construction from 2016 to 2019. Prices for the units start at Rp 400 million (S$41,618).

Batam mayor Ahmad said it was time for Batam to shift from landed to vertical housing due to its limited land.

"The land in Batam is very limited. For our urban planning, we have recommended residences with the tower or vertical building concept. From the business aspect, it is very prospective because many noted developers have built their projects here. It means they see a huge market potential here," said the Batam mayor.

Mustofa said the authorities need to accommodate the need for premium residential compounds in Batam.

"The growth of the number of Batam residents is the fastest in the world because of migration. To anticipate such a rapid growth, the Batam administration will also complement this city with toll roads and overpasses, which have been included in the national strategic project," he said.

"The toll roads and overpasses are aimed at anticipating traffic congestion in the next 10 years."