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Iskandar Malaysia (Part 3 - The Southern Development Corridor, Formerly Iskandar Development Region)

The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi recently announced that the Cabinet has approved incentives for developers and investors involved in the development of the 2,217 sq km ISKANDAR MALAYSIA (formerly Iskandar Development Region) which was launched on 4th November 2006. For the purpose of comparison of size,ISKANDAR MALAYSIA is about 48 times that of Putrajaya (46.19 sq km) and about 3 times the size of Singapore (739 sq km).

It was also reported in the news recently that the ISKANDAR MALAYSIA (formerly Iskandar Development Region) project would not be diminished, instead the Federal Government was committed to make it a success in this part of Peninsular Malaysia. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was reportedly pleased to see the inflow of investments into the project which was on track to achieve the estimated target of RM47billion by 2010. So far, the project had achieved 70% (RM33billion) of the total target value and the prime minister’s department had said RM200million had already been allocated for the construction of affordable homes in Iskandar Malaysia. Over the past one year, there were more than 25 developers who had invested in ISKANDAR MALAYSIA.

About 2,000 home units with a minimum floor area of 850 sq ft to 900 sq ft would be launched in the 2nd half of the 9th Malaysia Plan (2006-2010), under the 1st phase of the housing development. Commenting on the progress of the project’s RM1.88billion infrastructure development within ISKANDAR MALAYSIA, the prime minister said three projects had been completed while seven others were still under construction.

Three local companies were selected to undertake new waterfront projects worth about RM540million inISKANDAR MALAYSIA in 2008. Kota Selat Tebrau Sdn Bhd, Best Reality Point Sdn Bhd and Tune Hotels Sdn Bhd have been selected to develop the projects in Danga Bay, which is within the 25km stretch of the ISKANDAR MALAYSIAwaterfront.

Kota Selat Tebrau will develop the ISKANDAR MALAYSIAS’s first high-end service condominiums, Oakwood Residence Johor (ORJ) which is a joint-venture project with Singapore-based Oakwood Asia Pacific Pte Ltd. Oakwood Asia Pacific, a property management company, currently manages service apartments in India, China, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan and South Korea with nineteen other properties due to open over the next two years across the Asia-Pacific. Oakwood Residence Johor is a RM400million project comprising a 22-storey tower with 235 fully serviced units, two 40-storey towers which will be converted into service residences and a podium.

Best Reality Point will be investing RM120million in a 371-room 25-storey hotel which will be managed by the International Hotel Group on its completion in mid 2010. Tune Hotels is investing RM20million in its 220-room hotel which is expected to be completed by 2009. The hotel management plans to open six more hotels in Ipoh, Penang, Miri, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu and the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) in KLIA, Sepang in 2008.

The construction of the 15km 6-lane Coastal Highway which costs RM1.1billion is expected to be opened to public use by 2010. The highway’s seven interchanges and three bridges will be a boost for ISKANDAR MALAYSIA as it provides a vital road link between the east and west of South Johor. Presently, site clearing works have begun and will be followed by piling works soon. It is one of the biggest infrastructure projects within ISKANDAR MALAYSIA. The highway was designed to link up Johor Baru city centre with the Johor state new administrative centre in Nusajaya and the Second Link Crossing.

The new administrative centre is the nexus of ISKANDAR MALAYSIA which is now almost completed and should be ready for occupation by June 2008. The highway project is spearheaded by the South Johor Investment Corp (SJIC), which is the master developer and investor of strategic projects. The highway is also a boon to Singaporeans coming into Johor using the new Customs, Immigration & Quarantine (CIQ) Complex here in Johor Baru as this will provide direct access to Danga Bay, Nusajaya and other attractive localities nearby. There is also the economic spill-overs from the highway project and there will be a high possibility of strong growth and expansion of existing business centres in nearby Skudai and Gelang Patah.

The government hopes to create 800,000 new jobs by 2025 through the development of ISKANDAR MALAYSIA.In August 2007, three Middle Eastern consortiums, led by Kuwait Finance House, announced they would jointly develop a 902.4ha tract of land in ISKANDAR MALAYSIA with Mubadala Development Co and Millenium Development International Co for RM4.2billion. This involved the construction of three clusters, viz.,

  1. a lifestyle & leisure cluster,

  2. a cultural cluster, and

  3. a financial district in Nusajaya which was earmarked as Node 1.

Among the local developers involved in the development of ISKANDAR MALAYSIA were :

  1. Central Malaysian Properties Sdn Bhd,

  2. UEM Land Bhd

  3. Gamuda Bhd

  4. SP Setia Bhd

  5. Mah Sing Bhd

When investors from Dubai World, an infrastructure and utilities group from the Middle East, visited South Johor during the months of July, August and September 2007, they were interested and were aware of the tremendous economic potential of ISKANDAR MALAYSIA and were interested in the 2,255-acre landbank belonging to MMC Corp Bhd (Malaysia Mining Corporation) at Tanjung Bin as well as the 500 acres next to the Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP) which had been earmarked for industrial development. Malaysia Mining Corporation is considering the possibility of entering into a joint-venture with Dubai World to develop these lands.

To-date, the Federal Government’s allocation under the 9th Malaysia Plan (2006-2010) for the South Johor Economic Region, including Danga Bay, was RM12 billion. Convinced of the project’s commercial viability, Danga Bay Sdn Bhd (DBSB) and the Johor government’s development arm, Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor (KPRJ), had invested a substantial sum in the bay project and its surrounding areas. Danga Bay, spread over 1,850 acres with about 25km of waterfront, was the perfect location that could be turned into a viable commercial zone to rival Singapore’s development across the Causeway and attract the island’s residents to invest in the bay. Danga Bay is situated between the Second Link in the west and the North South Expressway in the east. Since the 9th MP announcement on the South Johor development, there had been a flood of foreign investors and established developers eyeing a slice of the planned mega projects in the area. Ekovest Bhd, the project manager of Danga Bay, said they are in talks with several world-class developers for the development of some of the mega projects here.

Under a proposed master plan spanning a period of 15 years, the RM19.2billion Danga Bay project will be turned into an integrated waterfront city within ISKANDAR MALAYSIA. The development of two new components, Sanctuary Villas and Danga Bay Service Residence & Resort Hotel had also taken off in October and November 2007. The RM330million Sanctuary Villas, located on 70 acres on an island, will comprise bungalows and waterfront villas. The RM536million Danga Bay Service Residence & Resort Hotel will consist of three towers and a podium block and Ekovest Bhd is confident the project will bring in a return of about 35% based on their feasibility study.

Danga Bay is linked to all major highways such as the Skudai Highway and North South Expressway, and the Coastal Highway, which also links it to Bandar Nusajaya. To date, Ekovest Bhd has already put in construction works amounting to RM479million in the Danga Bay development.

Another development coming up in ISKANDAR MALAYSIA soon will be the Berinda Group’s latest project, Park Precinct @ Impian Heights. The project offers 200 units within the Taman Impian Emas township in Johor and it features a fully secured two-tiered gated and guarded community with radio frequency identification (RFI) technology. RFI is an automatic identification method using radio waves to provide for positive identification and secured access into individual precincts and homes. The 600-acre Impian Heights is set within the 3,000-acre Taman Impian Emastownship which is designed by the multi-awarded winning landscape architect Malik, Lip & Associates and is developed by Gunung Impian Development Sdn Bhd. The developer said Impian Heights was strategically located as it was easily accessible through the new Pontian Interchange while the North South Expressway was only five minutes away via the Skudai and Kempas interchanges. There is also a 27-hole golf course planned within the scheme. There is also a Residents’ Club, equipped with jacuzzis, saunas, tennis courts, spa and a swimming pool.

At the Lido Beach in Johor Bahru, Central Malaysian Properties S/B will develop Lido Boulevard, a RM2.7billion 1,052ha integrated waterfront city also sited within ISKANDAR MALAYSIA. Central Malaysian Properties said work on the waterfront city, located on a 49.37ha beachfront site, will start in March 2008 and is expected to be completed by 2016. The project will stretch 2.4km along Lido Beach, from the now defunct Lot 1 Shopping Mall to the Harbour Master’s office. This flagship project by Central Malaysian Properties is a joint-venture between CMP, the State Secretary and the landowner Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor. Touted as the Garden City of the south, the project will include landscaped gardens, water fountains and park-like amenities. This project comprises 4 main components :

  1. 8 blocks of luxury condominiums of varying floor levels, 18 to 26, and offering 914 units,

  2. waterfront office suites,

  3. a hotel and,

  4. a shopping mall.

Also in the plan are another 8 blocks of waterfront office suites of between 6 and 8 floors each, a 296-room hotel-cum-service residences, and a 3-storey waterfront retail complex. Incorporated within the mall will be an international-sized ice skating rink and a 32-lane bowling alley. One of the main attractions will be the 4,645 sq metreIndoor Snow Park which allows for activities such as ice-sliding on toboggans and others. In order for this mammoth project to be successful, Central Malaysian Properties has plans to spend some RM150million to upgrade Jalan Sultan Abu Bakar which includes road-widening, constructing flyovers and pedestrian bridges and upgrading the seafront area. In its bid to uphold corporate social responsibility, Central Malaysian Properties will initiate a RM1million trust fund that will be administered by an independent board of trustees that will address social and environmental issues arising from the development.

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