GEORGE TOWN, Aug 1 — The proposed east seafront project stretching from the old Penang Yacht Club (PYC) up to Tanjung City Marina is set to kick off in six months.
The whole 12-acre stretch will be transformed into a commercial and cultural district while complying with heritage guidelines set under the Special Area Plan (SAP) for the Unesco Heritage site.
Penang Port Commission chairman Jeffrey Chew said requests for proposals (RFP) were held over the last five months and contractors have been identified for two components of the project.
One of the components, the old PYC site, identified as site A, stretches for about 1.5 acres at the seafront next to the Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal (SPCT).
“There are now old warehouses and a carpark area on the site but we are now in discussions with the appointed contractor to upgrade and restore the old buildings to turn the space into a parking and cultural area,” he said during a joint press conference with state exco Jagdeep Singh Deo and George Town Conservation and Development Corporation Sdn Bhd (GTCDC).
He said the upgrades and scope of works for Site A will be finalised by the end of this month.
The other component of the project, Site B, stretches for about two acres along six century-old seafront godowns between the pier and Tanjung City Marina.
“It will be converted into a residential, commercial and cultural district at a cost of RM100 million,” he said.
The project, also awarded to a private company, is a privately funded initiative (PFI) so the contractor awarded the project will be given a concession to restore and manage the project at zero cost to PPC and the state government.
Chew said PPC is still in discussions with the contractor on details as well as the terms and conditions of the concession.
“We hope to announce the full details for both Site A and Site B by next month once the agreements have been finalised,” he said.
Once the agreements are announced next month, the contractors can then work on the actual designs and details of the restoration for both sites.
“We hope to finalise the designs and start work in six months’ time,” he said.
Chew said the godowns were heritage buildings built in the early 1900s and restoration works will be conducted in accordance with heritage guidelines.
As for the RM155 million SPCT million expansion project, it will kick off in September, a year after Penang Port Sdn Bhd signed a joint venture agreement with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL) to develop the project.
The project will extend the existing berth from the current 545 metres to 793 metres to enable the terminal to berth two of RCCL’s new mega cruise vessels at the same time.
“We recorded 1.2 million cruise passenger arrivals each year now and next year, we are expecting about 2 million cruise passenger arrivals so the expansion is crucial to accommodate the increase in passenger arrivals,” Chew said.
The expansion project is expected to take about a year to complete.
On the Tanjung City Marina, identified as Site C, Chew said the request for proposal for the project is due on December 11.
“We will have to look at the proposals we receive for rehabilitation or redevelopment of the site to finalise any plans for it,” he said.
According to Jagdeep Singh Deo, the east seafront project connects to the north seafront project to turn the whole seafront into a public space for locals and visitors.
“We need a public promenade for visitors and locals and these two projects will create the public space for them to walk from one site to another,” he said.
The north seafront project stretched from Dewan Seri Pinang to Fort Cornwallis and the seawalls connecting to the PYC.
Currently, work is being carried out around Fort Cornwallis including bringing back the moat that surrounded the fort.
Jagdeep said the north and east seafront projects were part of a bigger plan to bring the island and the mainland closer.
“The project to connect the island to the mainland starts here,” he said.
He said there are plans for a new central business district in Butterworth, across the channel and connected by the ferry from the east seafront on the island.
“We hope to create a Hong Kong and Kowloon situation in Penang by upgrading the east seafront and improving connectivity between the island and the mainland,” he said.
Jagdeep stressed that the whole east seafront project will be in compliance with heritage guidelines as the whole area are within the Unesco World Heritage Site core zone.
He announced that GTCDC and Chief Minister Incorporated (CMI) will be conducting a competition to accept design proposals for the east seafront project.
“The competition is to get overall design proposals for the project,” he said.
The winning design will be adopted and used either in part or as a whole for the east seafront project encompassing all three sites, A, B and C.