SINGAPORE (Nov 24): Bursa Malaysia-listed property developer Tropicana Corporation believes it is time to scale up its expansion in Johor, Malaysia. It intends to unlock 800 acres of “premium landbank” with a gross development value (GDV) of RM43 billion ($12.3 billion).

Tropicana is no stranger to Johor. In 2010, it established a foothold in the state when the firm partnered with Iskandar Waterfront to build Tropicana Danga Bay, a mixed-use development across 37 acres. The following year, the joint venture partners signed a second agreement to develop another mixed-use development, the 227-acre Tropicana Danga Cove. In the subsequent years, Tropicana achieved 100% take-up for its landed residences, shops and offices in these developments.

The developer intends to ride on the positive momentum in Johor. In 2022, Johor secured RM70.6 billion in foreign direct investment — the highest in Malaysia. In July, it was reported that the Malaysian government was reviving the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail plan and was seeking proposals from private firms.

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim announced in August that he intends to designate Forest City in Johor as a Special Financial Zone (SFZ). In October, Anwar and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced they intend to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the Johor-Singapore Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in January.

Another game-changer is the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) link between Singapore’s Woodlands North station and Johor Bahru’s Bukit Chagar station, targeted for completion by the end of 2026 or early 2027.

These new developments are expected to make Johor a popular investment and business destination, especially with the SFZ and SEZ, says Karen Lee, managing director of Tropicana Southern Region.

“With Johor emerging as a top-tier investment destination in Malaysia, Tropicana remains confident and optimistic that the Johor property outlook remains positive,” adds Lee.

Tropicana has earmarked two townships worth RM23 billion for development. The two integrated townships are Lido Waterfront Boulevard and Tropicana Danga Bay.

It intends to roll out two integrated developments with a GDV of RM1 billion in Johor Bahru (JB) to kickstart the development. One is Watermark Residences on a 90-acre plot at Lido Waterfront Boulevard; the other is Bora Residences Tower B at the 31-acre Tropicana Danga Bay.

Lido Waterfront Boulevard is positioned as the next CBD in Iskandar Malaysia. It is a freehold development with green features, a plot ratio of 1:8 and a proposed Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) status. It is poised to be an “international-grade development” in terms of sustainability, with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and Green Building Index (GBI) certifications.

The upcoming Watermark Residences will feature a 54-storey high-rise development with 1,596 serviced apartments. Sizes range from 463 sq ft to 807 sq ft. There are also 16 retail lots within the development, with sizes from 1,012 sq ft to 4,133 sq ft. The project is targeted for launch in 3Q2024.

In the pipeline is a Grade-A modern office tower at Lido Waterfront Boulevard, catering to a wide spectrum of businesses given its MSC status. It will also feature a wide range of facilities and energy-efficient fixtures.

Tropicana Danga Bay, located less than 10km from Lido Waterfront, is envisioned as a vibrant community hub with serviced apartments and retail lots.

The upcoming 26-storey Bora Residences Tower B at Tropicana Danga Bay will have 245 modern serviced residences, ranging from 531 sq ft to 892 sq ft. There are also six retail shop lots, ranging from 353 sq ft to 672 sq ft. It will debut in 1Q2024.

Both townships are located within a five- to 10-minute drive of the Malaysian terminus of the RTS Link, points out Tropicana’s Lee. Hence, the projects will benefit from the completion of the RTS in three years, she adds.

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