PENANG will soon have a new landmark called the Queensbay Mall, a 2.5 million sq ft shopping centre in Bayan Lepas.
Billed as the largest mall in the northern state, it was formerly known as the Bayan World Megamall where construction work had stalled under its previous owners since the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
The CP group, which was invited by the Bayan Bay Development Bhd to be the white knight to revive the project, is set to complete the mall by 2007.
It will also complete the entire waterfront project that will include shop offices, bungalows, gated semi-detached homes, sea-view villas, condominiums, an international business-class hotel and other business and dining facilities.
The entire integrated seafront township, called Queensbay on 73 acres of prime freehold land in the south-western seaboard of Penang Island, will have a gross development value of RM1.5bil.
CP Group executive chairman Tan Chew Piau said the group was committed to this project for three important reasons: its strategic location; the view that Penang is ready to be served by a top quality lifestyle development like the Queensbay Mall; and confidence in the long-term economic prospects of Penang.
Tan Chiew Piau (far left) showing Tan Sri Dr Koh Tse Koon a model of the upcoming Queensbay Mall after the signing ceremony.
Tan said that under the rescue scheme, the group was obliged to complete the mall by June 2007.
However, we plan to complete the mall by the end of next year, and we will, he said when launching the Queensbay Mall on Oct 6 at the group's Eastin Hotel in Petaling Jaya.
Penang Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon witnessed the signing ceremony between C P Mall Sdn Bhd and AEON Co (M) Bhd for the latter's retail arm, Jusco, to be the main anchor tenant.
Jusco will occupy 255,000 sq ft of the retail space. It will be the first Jusco store in the state.
Tan said work on the project began on July 1 and was now in full swing. An internationally renowned architectural firm with local input designed the mall to give it a new identity.
We intend to give a new image and a new life to the entire project. To achieve this goal, we are embarking on a major re-branding exercise, he said.
He added that except for the retail lots sold by the previous owner, the rest of the retail space would be leased for between RM4 and RM25 per sq ft (psf) and fetch around RM42mil in annual rental.
He said the mall would also have 15 junior anchors occupying 5,000 to 20,000 sq ft of space each. The mall is expected to be 90% occupied by March next year.
He said the choice of the name Queensbay was a tribute to women and also because our feng shui advisor informed us that the Queensbay location will be led by female spending power in the next 20 years.
The mall will be the largest and longest shopping mall on the island with more than one million sq ft of net lettable space spread over five floors, with 525 retail lots.
Dr Koh said in his speech that he would want to see the mall completed first as the nearly 200 original purchasers of the retail lots had already committed their funds before the previous project was hit by the recession.
He said that with the project being located within Penang's Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) or Cybercity, residents there would be provided with broadband wireless facilities.
An artist's impression of the Queensbay Mall in Bayan Lepas, Penang.
Although only 30 MSC companies were targeted for 2005, there were already 58 MSC-status companies by Aug 31 this year, he added.
He said the authorities had also allowed the Queensbay land to be converted from leasehold to freehold tenure.
On Jusco becoming the main anchor tenant, Dr Koh said: We've been waiting for Jusco to come to Penang, so I am coming to KL to welcome you, he said.
The project's retail consultant Robert Jalleh, who is Retail Network Sdn Bhd director, said he expected 15 million visitors a year to the mall.
The (Penang) island will be the primary catchment that we would like to target the most. There will also be catchment from the hinterland such as from Alor Star and southern Thailand, he added.
CP Group, founded by Tan Chew Piau in 1972, owns and operates the multi-award winning Eastin Hotel.
The group's corporate office is housed in CP Tower, a 20-storey prime office building next to Eastin Hotel.
Its other projects include Kota Villas, Taman Bukit Serdang and Suria Semenyih.