Johor's crowning glory

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  • Wednesday, 13 Dec 2023

THERE'S a buzz in Johor Baru these days. After all, Sultan Ibrahim ibni Sultan Iskandar is set to assume the throne as the new king next month.

His Majesty will be determined to set things right for Malaysia and certainly, his beloved state of Johor too.

No other state shares a border with two countries – Singapore and Batam, Indonesia – except Johor, placing it in a strategic position.

It comes as no surprise that Johor Baru is poised to be the hottest state capital next year as its property sector is sure to take off with the anticipated progress from projects and improvements.

The move to relax the conditions of Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) will certainly be the most attractive reason.

Singaporeans, hit by the rising cost of properties in the island republic, will see Johor Baru as a good real estate investment, aided by a strong dollar against the ringgit.

The steep rental increase of 29.7% in private residential rents in 2022 has led to tenants, especially Malaysians, exploring other avenues.

Moving to Housing Development Board (HDB) flats is one option but relocating to Johor Baru, which may be a little inconvenient, is cheaper than staying in Singapore.

Once the Johor-Singapore Rapid Transit System Link is completed, it will certainly be a game changer. It's already 52% finished as of October.

Between the first quarter of last year and this year, reports revealed that the number of properties in Johor Baru has increased by 17%.

A Maybank analyst report cited several reasons why the economy of the state, especially in the south-western area, will grow.

It said the designation of Forest City as a Special Financial Zone (SFZ) has raised the development of that part of Johor.

"This strategic move not only fosters economic diversification and balances growth in the different regions of Iskandar Malaysia (IM), but it also offers sizable job creation potential and heightens IM's investment attractiveness," it said in its August findings.

The analysis revealed it was "positive" that the latest initiative offers "significant potential, efficient transportation networks, offered by Forest City are crucial to attract investors."

UBS Software said in its September report that Johor will be the net beneficiary of the Johor-Singapore SFZ, saying "this is evident from the slew of manufacturing companies and data centres that have spilled over from Singapore."

Then, there's the JB-Singapore Rapid Transit System Link (RTS), which many have described as "really a game changer" with UBS saying the retail malls nearby will benefit the most.

The jewel in the crown will be the RM4bil Coronation Square, which is at the heart of the Ibrahim International Business District (IIBD) initiative, upon the completion of its first building, the 39-storey Bank Rakyat Tower.

The tower is one of the six planned high-rise signature towers, which will house a medical centre, and a shopping mall with 1.2 million sq feet of retail space split across seven levels. The structure is expected to change Johor Baru's skyline.

The IIBD, which is part of the state's urban renewal project, is set to be the commercial and political centre of the JB metropolis.

The Coronate Residences, launched last February, has already seen 85% of units sold. Its biggest attraction is being within walking distance (300m) of the upcoming RTS station.

The iconic Coronation Square is expected to launch its next phase of serviced apartments in the first quarter of the new year.

"Property buyers are also more confident in investing in properties near the upcoming Bukit Chagar RTS station, which will benefit from the enhanced connectivity.

"Once the station is open, more Singaporeans would be interested in exploring moving across," said an analyst.

The Bukit Chagar station is an elevated terminal station currently being built in Johor Baru, which is next to Coronation Square. All its units are sold at RM1,200 per square feet.

The big boys have already started to pump their money into the state. YTL's Johor Data Center 1 sits in the Iskandar region with a 530,000 sq ft development. The RM1.5bil first phase of the data centre has already begun.

Sunway and Singapore-based real estate group Equalbase have jointly held a ground-breaking ceremony for a RM8bil sustainable Free Commercial Zone (FCZ) development for the logistics industry.

Make no mistake – Johor is the state to catch in the next five years.

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Wong Chun Wai

Wong Chun Wai

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 35 years in various capacities and roles. He is now group editorial and corporate affairs adviser to the group, after having served as group managing director/chief executive officer. On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.


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