IJM Land Bhd is expected to start the construction work for its RM4bil The Light City project by the second quarter of next year.
The property group had earlier planned to start construction for the integrated mixed development scheme, which is located near the Penang bridge, sometime this month.
Senior general manager (north) Datuk Toh Chin Leong told StarBiz that the group is pushing the project to next year because there is a need to revise its plan, in particular for the 1.1 million-square-feet retail mall.
“The plan is currently being revised to accommodate more food and beverage outlets and possibly, an experiential themed park.”
He added that The Light City project is targeted for completion in 2024.
The Light City comprises a 1.1 million-sq-ft retail mall, two international class hotels, a convention centre, an office tower and two blocks of condominium.
“Given the challenging economic climate, we are also redesigning the mall so that it can be launched in two phases, according to the pace of market demand.
“The construction cost of the first phase, comprising a 700,000-sq-ft mall, is estimated to be RM1.5bil. As for the second phase, comprising a 400,000-sq-ft mall, we will study the market conditions first before making a decision,” Toh added.
According to Toh, the retail mall and the hotel business would be well supported by the convention centre, which is expected to bring in the crowd.
“The demand for convention centre space is driven by the meeting, incentive, convention and exhibition market, which is booming in Penang.
“Our location is well-centralised around the airport, free industrial zone, George Town city and the mainland. This is also an added advantage,” explained Toh.
He pointed out that the Malaysia Retail Chain Association’s (MRCA) prognosis of the Malaysian retail industry in 2019 was positive.
MRCA is forecasting that the retail industry will grow by 4.5% this year compared with 3.9% last year, which is in tandem with the 2019 gross domestic product forecast of 4.3% and 4.8%, because of the improved business relations with China.