THE Setia SPICE Convention Centre in Penang will open its doors for its first function in March.
S P Setia Bhd general manager (North) Ng Han Seong said work on the project is on schedule for the first event to be held in the first weekend of March.
He said the iconic roof of the convention centre has been completed and workers are in the midst of installing the roof’s glass panels.
“We are on target to complete all our testing and commissioning by end of February,” he said in an interview.
Ng said the convention centre is one of the five elements of the entire RM700mil Subterranean Penang International Convention and Exhibition Centre (SPICE) project, which sits on 10.1ha (25 acre) plot of land.
The other elements consists of SPICE Aquatic Centre, which provides a choice of both wet and dry activities; the 79,000sq ft and 10,000 terrace seats of the multi-purpose indoor SPICE Arena; SPICE Canopy that consists of 59 retail units that are available for rental and a 25-storey Business Class Hotel consisting of 453 rooms earmarked for completion in 2019.
SPICE was formerly known as the Penang International Sports Arena (PISA), which was completed in 2000.
In 2011, S P Setia subsidiary Eco Meridian Sdn Bhd was granted a 30-year concession to manage and operate the place.
Ng said the company started the project by renovating the arena in April 2012, followed by a makeover of the aquatic centre and building of the convention centre, which he claimed is the first hybrid solar powered convention centre in the world.
He said the world-class integrated convention centre comprises contiguous space of 48,000sq ft flexible column-free ballroom that can accommodate 400 round banquet tables or 8,000 seats for any convention.
For the bigger events, the 20,000sq ft pre-function area outside can be extended out to accommodate another 150 round banquet tables.
“We have designed it in such a way that the door between the ballroom and pre-function area can be opened wide so that there is integration between both spaces.
“There are 13 meeting rooms. The meeting rooms will allow guests to hold meetings or functions in smaller groups,” Ng added.
He said S P Setia invested about RM4mil in the state’s largest solar farm to install solar panels on the roof of the aquatic centre so that solar power could be used to light up the common areas of the convention centre, adding that the solar panels produce 700kw of electricity at its peak.
“We are doing our corporate social responsibility by trying to encourage and reduce carbon footprint.
“Apart from that, we are also going to turn the convention centre’s rooftop, which is about six acres, into a park. This is because before we started work in this area, we saw a lot of people coming here every day to exercise, run or jog in the mornings and evenings.
“This is one of our way of giving back to society,” he added.
Ng said there would also be a children’s playground, where play equipment which are designed for the needs of special children would also be installed.
“We have engaged a consultant to look into this. There will also be a bamboo garden as part of our aim to turn the whole place into a green area where the public can come and spend time with their family doing outdoor activities,” he said.
On the hotel, he said the company started the foundation and basement works in May last year and had targeted mid-2019 for its completion.
“It will have a F&B (food and beverage) facility and a swimming pool.
“With the completion of the hotel, it would mean that the whole SPICE project is complete. In total, we will have 2,300 car park lots in the whole project,” he said, adding that the hotel was one of two planned hotel towers, which would have a common podium.
Ng said the total cost for the entire SPICE project is about RM700mil for all five elements, excluding the second hotel tower.
He described SPICE as an integrated business venue where people could come for conventions and meetings and yet, there are facilities for them to have recreational activities.
“This whole place will be one vibrant place with a hive of activities and events.
“There’s the aquatic centre, convention centre for people to hold events like weddings, international conventions, and team building exercises, as well as the arena where consumer fairs, trade exhibitions, concerts and shows are held, among many other things,” he added.