More property development: Vincent Tan’s Berjaya Land Bhd has entered into a conditional sale and purchase agreement with Penang Turf Club to buy 57.3 acres for RM459m.

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Prime unencumbered freehold land for only RM184 per square foot. (Was there an open tender by the Penang Turf Club?) Gross development value is estimated at RM1.5bn.

The project involves gated housing development comprising bungalows and semi-detached houses. It also includes condominiums and low-medium cost housing and landscaped greenery.

The site in question is part of the Turf Club’s 270-acre site. The land to be acquired is presently used for horse stables, equestrian activities and part of an 18-hole golf course. If the deal goes through, it could leave the Turf Club with a 9-hole golf course.

See my preceding blog entry asking whether something was brewing at the Turf Club. Also last week, an anonymous source had submitted a couple of images to my blog depicting a graphic artist’s impressions of the property development ringing the Turf Club site. I did not feature the images in a blog post as I was unable to verify their authenticity.

This deal is the direct consequence of the change in zoning under the BN-administration from recreational to mixed development.

Before the rezoning, when the Turf Club was still recreational land, Abad Naluri Sdn Bhd had wanted to buy the land for RM43 per square foot for the Patrick Lim’s Penang Global City Centre project; but after the rezoning, the site was said to be worth around RM250 per square foot in 2007. (In comparison, the recent Bayan Mutiara land deal was done at close to RM250 per square foot.)

Civil society groups had in 2007-2008 fought a successful campaign to ‘Stop PGCC’ on the entire Turf Club site. Public support for the campaign contributed to the downfall of the BN state government. There were also calls for the site to be turned into a Penang People’s Park. Around 1990, civil society groups had mounted a similar spirited campaign to pressure the Penang state government to reject plans to develop Penang Hill.

The present Pakatan local authorities will still have a big say in the latest Turf Club deal. The deal is subject to planning permission approval being granted by the relevant authorities (as well as approval by Turf Club members). The application for planning permission will be submitted within four months. Will the green light be given? (Scotland Road is already congested, and this could worsen. Who is going to pay for traffic alleviation?

The shareholders of Berjaya Land Bhd based on its 2010 Annual Report are as follows: