The Malaysian government 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. Iskandar Malaysia, for the purpose of comparison, is about 48 times that of Putrajaya (46.19 sq km) and about 3 times the size of Singapore (739 sq km) and to-date, the project had achieved 70% (RM33 billion) of the total target value and the prime minister’s department had said RM200 million had already been allocated for the construction of affordable homes in Iskandar Malaysia. Since its launching in 2006, there were more than 25 developers who had already invested in Iskandar Malaysia. In 2008, three local companies:
Kota Selat Tebrau Sdn Bhd
Best Reality Point Sdn Bhd
Tune Hotels Sdn Bhd
were selected to undertake new waterfront projects worth about RM540 million within the Danga Bay area in Iskandar Malaysia.
Kota Selat Tebrau will jointly develop Iskandar Malaysia’s first high-end service condominiums, known as the Oakwood Residence Johor 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. The RM400 million Oakwood Residence Johor comprises a 22-storey tower with 235 fully serviced units, two 40-storey towers which will be converted into service residences and a podium.
There are high hopes that the retail sector in the 2,217 sq km Iskandar Malaysia is set to enjoy good times with more investments and the entry of new players to the region in the near future. The Malaysian Association for Shopping & Highrise Complex Management (MASHCM, southern region) said competition in the retail sector had become more intense in recent years. To-date, there were five new shopping complexes and hypermarkets that had opened in the 2nd half of 2008 in Iskandar Malaysia. They were :
Tesco Extra Plentong,
Danga City Mall,
Tesco Tebrau City and
AEON Bukit Indah.
Year 2009 will see the opening of Ikea Tebrau City, Tesco Bukit Indah and Komtar (which is currently undergoing renovations). KSL City, Hilltop Nusajaya and Ponderosa Mall @ Taman Impian Emas will be opened in 2010. In the pipeline are Nusajaya Shopping Mall and the expansion of IOI Mall II at the existing IOI Bandar Putra Kulai by IOI Properties Bhd.
Residents in the Johor Bahru, Senai-Kulai, Gelang Patah-Pontian and Pasir Gudang-Tanjung Langsat areas that form Iskandar Malaysia, are spoilt for choice as there are more than 25 shopping complexes and hypermarkets therein. Due to the stronger purchasing power of the Singapore dollar, the shopping complexes and hypermarkets are very popular with Singaporeans as they come here to shop and dine and they also do not mind the daily traffic congestion in the Johor Bahru city centre.
It was also reported that in the near future, Iskandar Malaysia will have the Malaysian Premium Outlet (MPO) centre, which is to be built on a 20-hectare piece of land in the Asiatic Indahpura-Kulai Jaya township. The project is a joint-venture between Asiatic Land Development Sdn Bhd and the US-based Chelsea Property Group. It is noted that the MPO is Chelsea’s first premium outlet in Southeast Asia which offers international branded items at discounted prices. Chelsea Property is the world’s largest owner, developer and operator of upscale outlet centres with 38 outlets in the US, 6 in Japan and one each in South Korea and Mexico.
The Johor property market also benefited from Iskandar Malaysia as demand for high-end residential properties was on the rise in southern Johor. Besides the “Iskandar” factor, Singapore also played an important role in determining the economic growth of Johor. It is a well-known fact that Singapore and Johor are intertwined in economic activities during good and bad times due to their close proximity.
Hundreds of Singaporeans visit Johor Baru daily to shop, dine and entertain. Some visit Johor to catch up with friends and relatives. Although Singapore had not fully emerged from the current global recession, the S$35 billion economic stimulus package would assist the republic and it could be the first to be out of the downturn. Real Estate & Housing Developers Association (REHDA) Johor branch chairman Lee Kim Chia also concurred that Iskandar Malaysia was the driving force for the property market in Johor. He said the influx of local and foreign investors would create job opportunities within Iskandar Malaysia and the presence of new residents boded well for the market in Johor.
Under the 9th Malaysia Plan (2006-2010), the federal government had allocated RM6.83 billion for infrastructure projects in Iskandar Malaysia. And in the past 6 months, the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) had awarded RM1.62 billion worth of tenders to 18 projects. Some of the projects in Iskandar Malaysia are as follows.