FIVE years from now, the remaining segment of Bandar Baru Ayer Itam – popularly known as Farlim – that is still un-developed will be built up, Farlim Group exe-cutive director Ng Bok Tye said.
To date, about 90% of the 144ha township has been developed, with more apartments, shophouses and landed property homes to be constructed soon on the last segment, he said.
He said plans to develop the entire 144ha were approved by the local authority in 1985 and since then, the Farlim Group has transformed the area into a full-fledged township.
Ng said construction on the Sri Kristal lu-xury apartments, which is the latest development in the township, had started and would be ready in three years.
“We are on track in our project development timeline. From Day One, we already saw the land’s potential and intended to develop the area as one massive project. All the surrounding areas have already been developed then, so the Khoo Kongsi’s Thean Teik property (as it was formerly known) was the last frontier,” he said.
Ng said it took the Group two years to work out a detailed and comprehensive plan to de-velop the area.
“We were awarded the Excellence in Plan-ning Award by the Malaysian Institute of Plan-ners in 1982 for the Bandar Baru Ayer Itam Development Plan and it is something we are very proud of especially since the project was our first in Penang,” he said.
He added that the topography of the area was suitable for development and did not cause any negative impact to the environment.
“However, when we took over the project from previous developers, we had to settle the squatter problem before we could proceed. Bandar Baru Ayer Itam was divided into 10 sections which we proceeded to develop in stages.
“It took much negotiation and patience on our part but we managed to come up with a very fair compensation for the squatters be-cause we had given the then chief minister Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu our undertaking to re-solve the problem by taking into account hu-manitarian considerations.
“More than 600 units were promised to each squatter family although technically, we were only required to give them 30 days’ notice to vacate their premises.
“Ultimately, the state under Tun’s leadership was very supportive and in return we made sure that the project benefited the commu-nity and provided jobs for the residents,” Ng said.
Bandar Baru Ayer Itam is now a bustling township complete with infrastructure and amenities such as schools, petrol stations, a community hall, a police station and a fire station.
“The development value is more than RM1bil to date. Our single-storey and double-storey homes are estimated to be worth be-tween RM300,000 and RM500,000 now – that’s more than double the original price.
“People want to live here not just because of the homes we built. Families want to stay in Bandar Baru Ayer Itam because we provide a conducive living environment that stresses on convenience, comfort and safety,” Ng said.
Although Farlim is actually the name of the developer, many Penangites still refer to the township as “Farlim” rather than Bandar Baru Ayer Itam.
So if you are a visitor to Penang, try asking directions to “Farlim” instead of Bandar Baru Ayer Itam in the event that your initial query draws blank stares.
While some feng shui consultants believe that Thean Teik Estate (“blessing from heaven” in Chinese) – the land's original name, is auspicious and thus has a positive influence on the property’s growth, Ng offers a more pragmatic explanation.
“Good feng shui happens when good planning meets good architectural design!” he said.