Gurney Paragon set to be Penang iconic landmark

The Gurney Paragon, a project by Hunza Properties Bhd, may boost the property value of the Pulau Tikus area on Penang island, its developer said.

Hunza is set to become Penang's first developer to include a heritage building in its development of a shopping mall, swanky condominiums and an office block.

"We believe that the success of this project will help us form the next iconic landmark for Penang," executive chairman Datuk Khor Teng Tong told a media briefing in Penang yesterday.

The project, which carries a gross development value of over RM1.2 billion and fronts the island's famed Gurney Drive promenade, also boasts a dual frontage with Jalan Kelawei.

Once completed by 2010, the project is due to create an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 jobs, Khor said.

Hunza is conserving the 92-year-old St Joseph's Novitiate Building and its chapel.

A nearby shrine - known as the National Shrine of the Boy Jesus - found in the grounds of the project site is set to be dismantled, salvaged and rebuilt at a new location within the site, Khor said.

"Hunza has budgeted RM10 million for the purpose of restoring St Joseph's Novitiate," he added, "and it is our plan to open the heritage building as well as the 60,000 sq ft open space fronting the novitiate to the public".

"Our business model," Khor noted, "will be similar to that of Singapore's CHIJmes (Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus) which was previously a school and now a real hot, hopping and happening place."

Universiti Sains Malaysia lecturer and built heritage expert Associate Professor Dr A. Ghafar Ahmad who is advising Hunza on the conservation said a Dilapidation Survey Report on the status of the heritage building was submitted to the Penang Island Municipal Council last year.

"The heritage building is basically in good condition and we intend to retain about 70 per cent of its original materials," he added.

Conservation works will start next year and will take about 18 months to complete. - By Business Times

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