Second bridge setting stage for property 'boom'

The expected opening of the Second Penang Bridge in the first quarter of this year is creating a buzz in the property sector, with the potential entry of new players and growing interest in areas close to Batu Kawan and Batu Maung, which are the landing points for the bridge on the mainland and island, respectively.

The buzz is driven by the better connectivity and access to property developments that were once deemed far away.

Apart from Batu Kawan and Batu Maung, which are yet to be developed to their fullest potential, locations further inland on the island, like Sungai Ara, Teluk Kumbar and Gertak Sanggul, will also appeal to developers and investors.

The spillover effects from the opening of the new bridge are expected to enhance the appeal of Mah Sing Group Bhd's Southbay development at Batu Maung, which is a mixed project with retail shops, high-end residential suites, resort bungalows and three-storey super link houses.

On the mainland, development is likely to be accelerated in areas such as Sungai Bakap, Nibong Tebal, Bukit Tambun and Batu Kawan, which is known for the state stadium and houses developed by the Penang Development Corporation (PDC).

Landowners in areas on the mainland close to the bridge include Asas Dunia Bhd, Tambun Indah and PDC.

New entrants include Aspen Vision Sdn Bhd, which is partnering Ikano Pte Ltd to bring the first Ikea store to the northern region.

Ikano is the franchise holder in Southeast Asia for the Swedish home furnishing store.

The entry of Ikea is bound to fast-track Batu Kawan's development and boost the retail and tourism sectors. Aspen-Ikano Sdn Bhd will carry out a mixed-development project comprising offices and residences on a 99ha site.

The land, which is strategically located at the landing point of the Second Penang Bridge, will be developed over 10 years.

It will also include an Ikea store and a shopping mall.

Eco World Development Group Bhd is also eyeing a piece of the action in Batu Kawan. It is believed the group will emerge as the biggest landowner in Batu Kawan if it wins a bid being carried out by state-owned PDC.

The company is said to be eyeing a 190ha plot there. If it wins, a mixed-development project and a golf course are likely to materialise.

Bidding for the land is rumoured to open at RM45 per square foot.

Its location on a hillock close to the landing point of the bridge will serve as a bonus.

Commercial land in Butterworth is currently tagged at between RM120 and RM150 per sq ft and developers often find themselves constricted by surrounding developments, especially brownfield developments.

The open space at Batu Kawan and its surrounding areas will appeal to those looking for greenfield areas and allow for better planning of satellite townships and retail and recreational spaces.

While hopes are high that the opening of Southeast Asia's longest bridge (at 24km) will ease traffic congestion on the first Penang Bridge, property developers and buyers will now be spoilt for choice as they look to what were once less-than-fashionable residential locations. - Business Times

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