SEBERANG PERAI, March 14 — Swedish home furnishing store, Ikea, opened its first northern region store in Batu Kawan here today.
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow is confident the RM650 million new store will drive the development of Batu Kawan.
“Five years ago, there was nothing here, they had to take a helicopter to come and look at the land, and today, because of this catalyst project, Batu Kawan will transform into a vibrant township,” he said in his opening speech at the grand opening of the store.
He said the home furnishing retailer will elevate the economy here with more than 300 people hired for the store since last year.
“Batu Kawan is a new township developed by Penang Development Corporation (PDC) and these lands were acquired since the 1990s,” he said.
Other than the Batu Kawan Stadium, Chow said there were two housing phases here but previously, the area did not see much development.
“It is only in the past five to six years, with Ikea and Aspen Group investing on the over 200 acres of PDC land here for mixed development that brought in other projects to Batu Kawan,” he told reporters later.
He said the mixed development project will be built in phases over the next five to 10 years,
“This will be a full-fledged township in 10 years,” he said.
He said 1,500 acres of land in Batu Kawan were almost sold out for industrial development and PDC is now working to attract more investments, in terms of residential and commercial projects to the township.
PDC itself is also developing affordable housing projects in Batu Kawan.
Chow said two international universities, University of Wollongong, Australia under the KDU Group and University of Plymouth from UK will be setting up campuses in Batu Kawan.
“PDC is now negotiating with two proposed specialist hospitals in Batu Kawan so we may see two hospitals here if the negotiations were successful,” he said.
Earlier, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, in his speech said the new IKEA Batu Kawan store was built with sustainability in mind.
“This building is equipped with solar panels, rainwater capture systems and energy recovery equipment among others,” he said.
He said this proved that sustainability features can be implemented in development projects.
“We believe many Malaysian companies can go the sustainable route and we hope that Ikea can continue to spread the message of sustainability,” he said.
Ikea Batu Kawan is the fourth Ikea store in Malaysia which will feature Swedish inspired room sets, more than 8,000 products, a markethall, thousands of flat-packed products, a 815-seat restaurant and a bakery.
The 470,146 square feet store is located adjacent to Aspen Vision City and easily accessible via major highways.
The store has 1,955 parking bays and it has a free 2-way shuttle bus from the nearby Design Village to Ikea Batu Kawan daily from 11am to 9pm.
The store is open from 10am to 10pm daily.