Rowsley reveals details of mega Iskandar project

PHOTO: Rowsley reveals details of mega Iskandar project

Fresh from a corporate transformation, Singapore-listed Rowsley is putting the finishing touches to its grand RM5.5 billion (S$2.2 billion) Vantage Bay project in Malaysia's bustling Iskandar.

The integrated project in Johor Baru city centre is just 1km from the customs, immigration and quarantine complex.

The sheer proximity to Singapore suggests the project is poised to give other mega Iskandar projects a run for their money.

The project spans 9.23ha or 13 international-sized football fields.

For the first time on Wednesday, Rowsley, part-owned by billionaire Peter Lim, revealed details of the Vantage Bay project.

It will include a twin tower, set to become one of the tallest condominiums in Malaysia, with striking views of the Strait of Johor and Singapore's skyline. There will also be a mall as big as Singapore's largest, VivoCity, with a net lettable area of one million sq ft, a hotel and office blocks.

A major bonus: It will be connected to a medical hub run by Thomson Medical Hospital, which will include medical suites and step-down care like apartments.

Thomson Medical is part- owned by Mr Lim and Johor's royal family while the Vantage Bay site is 70 per cent owned by Mr Lim and the rest by Johor royalty.

The project, with an expected plot ratio of 11, is in good hands. RSP Architects Planners & Engineers, Singapore's oldest and leading architect firm which was just appointed to undertake the iconic Jewel project in Changi, is charged with the project's design.

Rowsley has just completed a $545 million acquisition of RSP Architects and waterfront land in Iskandar, paid through issuance of new shares under a reverse takeover exercise.

"The transaction has transformed us from a company with a market capitalisation of $140 million to nearly $1.5 billion in less than a year," said Rowsley executive chairman Ho Tat Kin at a media briefing on Wednesday.

According to Vantage Bay chief executive and Rowsley executive director Ho Kiam Kheong, the residential units will be launched by the first quarter of next year. The whole project is expected to take 10 years to complete.

"This is not going to be just another ghost town. It will be a seamless experience and a truly integrated township," he said.

"We are going to have pedestrian walkways in the centre, which will have an open space and lots of shrubs with shelters and alfresco dining outlets which will light up at night... like Clarke Quay."

But there may be challenges. It was reported that starting from January next year, foreigners buying property in Johor face a higher processing fee.

Mr Ho Kiam Kheong said: "We are obviously disappointed as developers over the cooling measures, but they indicate that market demand is strong and will take out the speculative element."

The lifestyle-cum-wellness project could rival other projects in Nusajaya, a pivotal part of Iskandar's growth, taking in Puteri Harbour and Medini.

He said: "The key difference is that in Puteri Harbour or Medini or Nusajaya, there are many developers coming together to make it work.

"That is a challenge as developers have their respective commercial interests to safeguard and 'inertia' could set in.

"The mindset of 'you go first, I'll come after you' is going to be a challenge for the project to really take off at a faster pace."

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.