Penang Turf Club, PTMP and Batu Kawan

When I was still based in Penang, I was looking forward to the Penang Global City Centre (PCCC) project. Yes, I know many hated it with a host of reasons etc. These people won. It did not happen and well, it has been many years since the last update of that piece land which is actually in a very strategic area. Some time back, an article was published in The Star highlighting a few facts as follows:

The estimated gross development value (GDV) was RM25 billion. Total of 15 years to fully develop the land. (GDV Should be much higher today)

A new turf club would have to be built for PGCC to proceed. The site would be in Batu Kawan, Penang. (land costs are now much higher, so are construction costs etc).

PGCC was supposed to have been a zero-carbon city where pollution is minimal. (Honestly, I do think that pollution is due to the people, not so much of development per se)

Total size of the land is 104ha. It would consist of two five-star hotels, a Penang performing arts centre, a retail complex, two iconic office towers at 200m tall (designed by New York-based Asymptote Architecture, appointed by Abad Naluri.), residential properties, a world-class meeting and convention centre, an observatory tower, parking space, monorail transportation, as well as a public arena.

There would also be a 10.4ha public park that will be linked to Penang Botanical Gardens and Municipal Youth Park. (This is a good one, at least less congestion because during certain times, it’s crazy at the roads nearby the current two public parks).

Two flyovers were tone built to alleviate the congestion along Jalan Scotland. (Until now, Greenlane is still a bottleneck during peak hours, maybe even more these days)

Some estimated land value from the valuers pointed to a RM350 per sq ft current value. In other words, RM3 billion to buy the land alone. (If we believe land cost to be less than 10% of GDV, then we are talking about a much larger GDV than the RM25 billion previously planned)

The land value has NOT yet included any new equestrian club in Batu Kawan or any other areas in Penang. The estimated cost for this new club would be around RM600mil to RM1bil. (Okay, if this is also taken into calculation, no wonder we have not read about any serious private developers thinking about reviving a ‘PGCC’ development there)

I may be wrong because according to Raine and Horne Malaysia senior partner Michael Geh, “It is not surprising if the Penang Transportation Master Plan) PTMP proposal and the currency situation today has renewed interest in the property, as the price of such a prime property and the cost to develop it overseas would be astronomical.” There are really not many properties similar to the Penang Turf Club land. Even the location is a prime one and definitely one which many Penangites love compared to other secondary areas.

Actually, there are lots of other development costs being mentioned as the never ending obstacles to the revival of this ‘PGCC.’ Suffice to say, time would enable the GDV value to exceed all these considerations. Only one question remain. If this is taken into account as part of the PTMP, then what would happen to the proposed reclamation? Actually, that one was estimated to be between RM7 billion to RM8 billion. Read here: Wait, stop speculating. Reclamation for PTMP is not confirmed.  

Let’s not discount the spillover effects from a new PTC to any area that it is built on. In fact if it is in Batu Kawan, I think it will bring more cheers to the area which at this moment remain secondary for many of my Penangite friends. They would look at me and smile when I ask if they are moving to Batu Kawan since there is now a second bridge. One friend even bought a place there but continue to stay in the island side. Somehow, that ‘cool’ factor is not there. Perhaps there’s just not enough excitement yet. Waiting for IKEA and University of Hull perhaps. 🙂

I am all for more sustainable development because Penang would be gridlocked in the future without any firm and serious decisions on a transportation masterplan. Any decision to enhance public transportation needs to be supported by funds from developments. In this case, either the reclamation or perhaps this PTC. Else, the government of the day would just assume debts, debts and debts which ultimately benefits no one. Happy anticipating as the PTMP environmental impact assessment (EIA) is still 6 months away from what was published in medias.

written on 29 Dec 2015

Next suggested article: Business community and me: PTMP is needed for Penang

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