IT’S hard not to miss the striking 35-storey Bank Rakyat Tower that is taking shape in the skyline of Johor Baru.
The imposing building is a part of Coronation Square, a lead project of the prestigious Ibrahim International Business District (IIBD) of Johor Baru.
The tower is almost 75% completed and will be fully done by the end of the year.
There is plenty of buzz on the progress of Coronation Square, as it is linked to the Rapid Transit System (RTS) that will take commuters to Singapore in just five minutes.
For pedestrians, the development provides sheltered aerial walkways linked directly to both RTS and the Immigration Complex in JB Sentral, which is a 20-minute walk.
The city’s transformation plan would no doubt have an impact on the property scene in JB.
Coronation Square, which was launched by the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar in 2015, is a mixed integrated development, comprising a retail shopping mall and six high-rise towers (two blocks of high-rise serviced apartments, two office towers, a hotel and medical suites).
According to Johor Corporation (JCorp), the medical suites will be managed by JCorp and KPJ Healthcare Bhd.
Besides offering modern medical services, where there will be “traditional and alternative treatments like Ayurveda and acupuncture by international brand operators, apart from providing various healthcare facilities”.
The target market for the medical suites will comprise locals and Asean nationalities, particularly from Singapore and Indonesia, and those from the Middle East, as well as China, South Korea and Japan.
It’s no secret that His Majesty keeps a tab on the progress of the Ibrahim International Business District (IIBD).
The retail shopping mall has seven levels of retail space of approximately 1.2 million sq ft. The entire development spans seven years from 2017-2023.
According to an urban planner, an intricate network of flyovers will bring vehicular traffic from Jalan Tebrau and Jalan Tun Abdul Razak at a number of levels and link straight into the Coronation Square development and off to Jalan Abdullah Ibrahim or Jalan Trus and the surrounding highway system.
“These linkages, which are part of the transformation of JB, will bring plenty of positive changes to the city, ” he said.
As a regular visitor to JB, I always found JB having a bland personality and we can’t help but to make comparisons to the vibrancy across the Causeway.
A classic case of so near and yet so far.
The JB city folks deserve to enjoy urban renewal on a scale that re-focuses on the city centre and polarises property values in the same way that the KLCC did for Kuala Lumpur from 1997 onwards.
Right now, the area covered by the IIBD is bordered by Jalan Ayer Molek, Jalan Tun Sri Lanang, Jalan Tun Abdul Razak and Jalan Sultan Ibrahim, and it is hardly providing a metropolitan, high-end look and feel.
The transformation plan, which is jointly developed by JCorp and the state government, aims to turn JB into a “metropolis of international standard.”
It covers 250 acres (101.17ha) within the JB city centre.
For the last four years, Malaysian developer Coronade Properties Sdn Bhd has been quietly working on the RM4.5bil project to capitalise on the enormous impact of this truly game-changing infrastructure, which will join Orchard Road in Singapore to JB by a journey of less than 35 minutes.
Coronade’s spokesperson said: “We had to engage in a lot of futureology to see how we could shape Coronation Square into a unique and integrated development, where the needs of tenants and visitors converge in a safe and enjoyable environment.”
One thing is certain – there is plenty of excitement ahead for JB and an urban facelift is long overdue.
JB needs a KLCC of its own and it may have the answer.
Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai is an award winning veteran journalist. Views expressed here are the writer’s own.