Monday 4 November 2013

Tourism appeal for i-City

THE tourism component for i-City is shaping up nicely and the recent tie-up with Best Western International to develop and manage the first hotel there will give the park an added boost as i-City may look forward to retaining longer-staying visitors.

The three-star Best Western i-City has a gross development value (GDV) of RM50mil and is the first of two hotels planned for i-City. The 216-room boutique hotel is currently under construction and is slated for opening late next year.

“The hotel will enhance the number of visitors to i-City’s leisure park and attractions, given visitors can now opt to stay within the vicinity of i-City’s theme park,” said Datuk Eu Hong Chew, deputy chairman of I-Berhad, the developer of i-City.

In addition, Best Western will also be managing the serviced suites by providing hospitality and building management services.

The serviced suites, which comprise 826 units of serviced residences, will be launched at the end of 2013 and are poised to be the first hotel-branded residential development in Shah Alam.

Eu noted that owners of this residential development should be able to enjoy premium capital value and rental yield due to the nature of the residences and its location in the heart of an integrated development such as i-City.

However, I-Berhad has not given any indication of the pricing for its serviced suites.

Last year, I-Bhd launched its first residential project, i-Residence, at RM500psf, which was a benchmark price for the area at that time.

Shah Alam has been described as among the top five property hotspots in the Klang Valley. But no doubt, these suites would cater to a different crowd compared to the average property investor.

“The fact that it is located within a MSC Cybercentre environment means that tech-savvy urbanites can be a part of i-City’s plug-and-play environment, thanks to the Cisco Connected Real Estate connectivity.

“All in, the serviced suites will be managed at high quality levels and at the same time, the owners of these units will be able to avail themselves to hotel services and amenities such as the concierge, housekeeping and catering provided by Best Western International,” Eu said.

I-Berhad is confident that the development taking place in i-City would indeed create demand for its leisure properties as Eu expects the hotel to have one of the shortest gestation periods thanks to the attractions based in the park.

i-City has established itself as a pioneer of the niche “urban leisure development” which integrates leisure with residential and office development in an urban setting. The first phase of the 30ha development was completed in 2008 with 500,000sq ft of cybercentre offices.

Eu added that the hotel was the third building block in the development of i-City as a tourism destination after the establishment of its first two components, its various theme parks as well as CentralPlaza@i-City, a retail mall.

i-City has, to-date, invested RM70mil in various rides and attractions to develop its main tourism component.

Sprawled over 10ha, i-City has four notable theme parks — City of Digital Lights, SnoWalk, WaterWorld and FunWorld.

It also houses Malaysia’s first interactive wax museum with the House of Horror as the main feature.

Eu said I-Berhad is looking at pumping in another RM30mil over the next few years to boost i-City’s theme parks.

He estimates 30% growth in its visitor count in the near future, which currently averages about 90,000 visitors every week.

“With the allure of Red Carpet, the House of Horror and our constant upgrading as well as introduction of new attractions — all of which fulfill the criteria as Visit Malaysia Year 2014 tourism products — our ultimate hope is to make i-City an enchanting tourism product that will appeal to both local and international visitors,” he said.

Earlier this year, I-Berhad also signed a joint venture agreement with CPN Global Company Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Central Pattana Plc Ltd (CPN), to jointly develop the CentralPlaza @ i-City regional retail mall. CPN is Thailand’s largest retail developer.

Currently in the design stage, the project will be developed on a freehold plot of land measuring 4.5ha with gross floor area of around 1.5mil sq ft and net leasable area of around 1mil sq ft.

Upon completion by end-2016, the RM580mil CentralPlaza will be the biggest shopping mall project in Shah Alam.

“We envisage the mega mall to further expedite the maturity of i-City as a wholesome township that boasts corporate, leisure and residential components encompassing office towers, Cyber office suites, a theme park, hotels, serviced apartments and data centers,” said Eu.

Another notable development that would add to i-City’s tourism appeal is its upcoming Clark Quay-type riverfront food and beverage project.

“Facing the picturesque Sungai Rasau, the 1km-long development will feature a slew of al fresco F&B outlets alongside water-based rides and specialty retail shops, all of which are targeted at our international visitors,” he added.

Clearly, i-City has a lot on its plate for its tourism component alone and Eu is optimistic about the future of the park as a tourism destination.

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