GEORGE TOWN, June 22 — Penang’s proposed arts district that was initially sited at Sia Boey will now be at Macallum Street Ghaut, just 500m away, while the old market site will be transformed into a transformation hub.
When announcing this today, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the proposed Penang Arts District was first introduced to regenerate and revitalise Sia Boey.
Sia Boey was a 150-year-old wet market along the Prangin Canal that had remained busy as a 24-hour marketplace before it closed down in 2004 to make way for the then phase five Komtar project.
The entire 5.5-acre plot in the heart of the state capital had been left vacant and in slow decay since it was shuttered. Last year, however, the state government launched the “Sia Boey: Reborn” project to turn the site into the Penang Heritage Arts District.
“However, Sia Boey was later identified as a likely site to be transformed into a transportation hub for the planned Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Mass Rail Transit (MRT) interchange under the Penang Transport Master Plan,” Lim said in a press conference at his office today.
Due to this, he said the state has decided to shift the planned Penang Arts District to an alternative location — a plot of vacant land spread out over 9.2 acres located off Macallum Street Ghaut and Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway.
“With a much larger land area without the limitations of existing buildings and structures, the new site provides greater flexibility and new possibilities for the Penang Arts District,” he said.
Lim said the new site will be able to cater to the single largest collection of art galleries and cultural museums, creative boutiques, arts schools and workshops in Malaysia.
“We are confident that the Penang Arts District will become a must-visit arts destination of South-east Asia,” he said.
He added that the RM30 million project will revitalise the Macallum Street area while creating more employment opportunities.
Lim also announced the appointment of Penang State Art Gallery committee vice-chairman Datuk Dr Tan Chee Khuan as adviser for the project.
“The Penang Arts District team under Penang Convention & Exhibition Bureau (PCEB) has envisioned the venue to incorporate an 80,000 square feet container city and a 3-acre landscaped park,” he said, while citing successful container cities in Christchurch, Seoul, Dubai and Buenos Aires as examples.
The Penang government also opened calls for a pre-qualification proposal and submissions for the Penang Arts District project.
Designers, architects and contractors who are interested in participating in this landmark project may download the Pre-Qualification documents online via Penang Arts District’s website, www.penangartsdistrict.com.