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Thursday, September 10, 2009

AGB awaits nod for Penang project

Property developer Asian Global Business Sdn Bhd (AGB) plans to start work on its RM300 million "Rice Miller" development in Georgetown's heritage enclave by December.

The company's chairman Kate Lim told Business Times that AGB is currently awaiting approval from the Penang local authorities for its project which had to be scaled down, to comply with conservation guidelines stipulated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).

The mixed-development located at Georgetown's waterfront Weld Quay area will include a boutique hotel, upscale private residences and commercial units.

AGB was one of four property developers that obtained approvals from the Penang Island Municipal Council for its projects, well ahead of the date when Georgetown was inscribed on Unesco's World Heritage List in July 2008.
Together with Boustead Holdings Bhd, Eastern & Oriental Bhd and the Low Yat Group, AGB was told by the Penang state government that their proposed developments were jeopardising Georgetown's heritage status, because their height were over the prescribed limit.

The Rice Miller project is located in the city's heritage zone, along with the Boustead Royale Bintang Hotel which is being constructed behind the general post office in Lebuh Downing.

E&O is building an extension to its E&O Hotel while Low Yat had planned to build a 23-storey hotel on Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, both in the buffer zone.

"After meeting Unesco officials who came to Penang in April, AGB decided to meet all Unesco's requirements, said Lim, "and we have now lost 50 per cent of our net sellable space".

She said the original plan to build 11-storeys has now been scaled down to five-storeys.

"We submitted fresh plans last month for compliance with Unesco's guidelines," she said, adding that the project is slated to be first permitted under Georgetown's new height limits for its heritage zone.

Sitting on a 1.2ha site, the project is set to revive Georgetown's old port area and will be marketed as a piece of affluent real estate in the heart of the city.

"As planned from the outset," Lim added, "we will be conserving the 60-to-100-year-old buildings at the site and re-using them for commercial and retail, including an old vacant godown."

By Business Times (by Marina Emmanuel)