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Saturday, December 1, 2007

AGB makes maiden property foray into Penang

A HERITAGE restoration project along Penang's old waterfront in George Town will serve as Kuala Lumpur-based Asian Global Business Sdn Bhd's (AGB) maiden foray as a property developer next year.

The 'Pier At Weld Quay' project, which has a gross development value of RM500 million, is being touted by its developer as "a waterfront development with a difference" since it will involve the restoration of six heritage buildings and the construction of seven new structures.

Components of the project, which is being sited on a 1.3ha plot along Lebuh Pantai-Gat Lebuh China and Weld Quay, will include a boutique, hotel, commercial plaza, tourism school, retail podium and apartment suites, and townhouses.

"The project will break ground by the first quarter of 2008 and completion is expected by the end of 2011," AGB's chairman Kate Lim told Business Times.

The project will be soft launched in January next year.

Lim said the 'Rice Miller' boutique hotel, which will boast 100 rooms, will serve as a new hospitality brand which AGB will develop.

"The project will be marketed to investors in countries like Indonesia, Singapore and India, and we also intend to tap into the 'Malaysia My Second Home' market," she added.

"We have engaged Penang-based architects and conservation specialists for this project and are complying with the 51.7m height restriction imposed by the local authorities."

She said the 105 apartments would boast floor spaces between 1,500 sq ft and 3,500 sq ft and priced in the range of RM700 per sq ft.

AGB's chief executive officer Dr Noraini Abdullah said the company is currently in negotiations with the owners of the Royal Customs and Excise offices to lease the building (which will encompass the project) on a long-term basis.

She said the project will be funded through debt financing with a RM120 million borrowing.

AGB is a tourism and property development company primarily engaged in the conservation of historic resources.

The firm's entry into Penang and its proposed project will now see the development of the island's fifth waterfront development after E&O Property's 'Seri Tanjung Pinang', CP Land's 'Queensbay' development, Bayan Mutiara by PDC Properties and IJM Corp Bhd's The Light' project.

Following the reclamation of land east of Lebuh Pantai in the 1880s, Pengkalan Weld or Weld Quay became the sea-front road of Penang's port settlement.

Today, Weld Quay is home to the Tanjung City marina, water clan villages, 19th century offices belonging to European shipping agencies, along with godowns and the ferry terminal managed by Penang Port Sdn Bhd.

By New Straits Times (by Marina Emmanuel)

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