KOTA KINABALU: Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman boarded a train for a ride from the Tanjung Aru railway station to a marquee to launch a redevelopment of the facility existing since for more than a century.
Accompanying him on the five minute ride on Saturday was SP Setia group president and chief executive Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin whose company is making its first foray into Sabah with the RM2bil project called Aeropod.
That ride, Liew later said, symbolised the journey that Sabah was undertaking from the past to the future with the train station being transformed into a transportation hub and more.
Liew says Aeropod modelled after SP Setia’s successful SetiaWalk in Puchong
The project for SP Setia, that has been described as Malaysia's top property developer, is by any measure a massive undertaking.
To be implemented over five phases in a span of about eight to 10 years, Aeropod would ultimately become a place that people would want to go to, said Liew.
When fully completed, Aeropod being built on a 24ha site, would feature three hotels, nearly 28,000 sq m of retail space, some 5,000 residential units as well as the new Sabah Railway Department headquarters.
He said SP Setia's inaugural Sabah venture began in 2008 when the firm worked closely with the Sabah government for the redevelopment and modernisation of the Tanjung Aru railway station to become a state-of-the art transportation hub.
Thus the Aeropod would not only serve as a railway station but would also be geared for the future by being built to accommodate mass rapid transit (MRT) or monorail services.
“Our agreement with the Sabah government sees us redeveloping this transport terminal in return for the rights to build a mixed commercial project on the surrounding land,” said Liew.
He said Aeropod was modelled after SP Setia's successful SetiaWalk in Puchong and conceptualised along with the group's development philosophy of Live, Learn, Work and Play.
“Our award-winning approach of building well-planned developments with great accessibility and extensive amenities within a single location will see to it that Aeropod becomes a hot spot in the state,” Liew added.
He said Aeropod would feature boutique retail lots, office blocks, a shopping mall, hotels and serviced apartments.
“For investors looking to capitalise on Sabah's rising economic potential to families planning an enjoyable outing, Aeropod will have something to offer everyone,” Liew added.
The first phase of the project, according to Liew, would see SP Setia investing some RM235mil covering an area of some 11ha for the construction of among others 28 units of shop lots which have been sold out.
That phase would also see the realignment of rail tracks and the construction of the Sabah Railway headquarters and train station apart from building replacement quarters for department staff at Kinarut.
“Our pledge that despite the ongoing work at the railway station, there will be no disruption of train services,” Liew added.
He said other components of the first phase include the Galleria - a public area featuring among others a huge aquarium showcasing Sabah's diverse marine life as well as a railway museum.
He said the first phase would also see the construction of two ramps or flyover for easier vehicle traffic access between Aeropod and the nearby Jalan Kepayan.
Liew said SP Setia had also committed to preserving the Kepayan Ridge hills just behind the project site and instead landscape it to become a park.