KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 28 — Penang’s coastal landscape is set to experience a facelift once the RM1bil Eastern Seafront Development (ESD) project takes off early next year, The Star reported today.
Penang Port Commission (PPC) chairman Jeffrey Chew said one of the top attractions, the Promenade Walk, is a feature above sea level, along the waterfront would start from the Swettenham Pier in Esplanade up to the abandoned Tanjung City Marina.
“The estimated cost is over RM1 billion. The seamless promenade walkway is expected to start in the first quarter of next year with the entire project to be completed in 2024,” he said in an exclusive interview with The Star.
Owner of the land parcel along the coastal stretch after the Astaka until the Rapid Penang Bus Terminal in Weld Quay, the PPC will oversee projects in the ESD include the expansion of the Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal (SPCT) and the upgrading of the ground transport area (GTA), including port warehouses, a yacht club and the Tanjung City Marina.
The PPC will be unlocking the land bank with the RM155 million SPCT expansion (set to commence in the first quarter of next year) and the warehouse development, which has been given to a private company, said Chew.
“We are embarking on a cautious approach on the development of the warehouses due to their heritage value.
“George Town World Heritage Incorporated will be involved in its planning every step of the way. The development will have retail, culture and duty free elements while maintaining its original heritage value.
“The warehouses are set to be ready in 2022,” he said referring to an estimation value of the warehouse of RM300mil.
He added that both the GTA and the yacht club near the PPC building, would be developed by the Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) and would be a critical component for the SPCT after the completion of the terminal with the arrivals of quantum class ships.
The estimated development of both the areas is expected to be around RM300mil.
“The tender exercise for the project has been completed,” said Chew.
However, Chew admitted there would be challenges, including developing the Tanjung City Marina land.
“The biggest challenge will be developing the Tanjung City Marina land. It is actually, not easy to build a marina on the two hetres of land and five hectres of water surface due to water swelling in the area about 12 metres deep.
“It’s better to have a retail component to complement the warehouses with a mini marina or an urban archaeological park,” he added.
According to Chew, the value of the Tanjung City Marina land, was estimated to be around RM100mil and at least RM200mil would be needed to transform the present facade of the area to blend in with the promenade.
“There could also be an area for water taxis to ferry people to the promenade walkway. In fact, the walkway could stretch up to the clan jetties in the future. But the jetties are on private land and any tie-up would have to wait until completion of the eastern seafront development,” said Chew.
In addition, locals would be given priority in the entire development as opening up the port area would give them access to see and experience the arrivals of the cruise ships, said Chew.
In a separate statement, State Local Government Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo welcomed the developments and said the northern seafront development from Astaka to Swettenham Pier will commence once certain components of the Gurney Wharf project takes off.
“Connecting the coastline will be an important aspect of development in the future although we are facing challenges to expand the roads from Tanjung Bungah to Batu Ferringhi due to the narrow stretch,” he said.
Jagdeep added the state government had requested RM40 million in funding from the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry to build eco-decks from Tanjung Bungah to Batu Ferringhi, sighting that this will be the best alternative and environmental friendly proposal as the stretch of roads cannot be expanded.
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