The state government initiative, named as Gurney Wharf, will be created on 60 acres of land to be reclaimed by Tanjung Pinang Development Sdn Bhd (TPD), a subsidiary of Eastern & Oriental Berhad (E&O).

The proposed Gurney Wharf concept masterplan is divided into four areas that will feature a seaside retail food and beverage area, water gardens, a man-made beach and a coastal grove spanning some 1.5km of shoreline.

“This masterplan concept will create a new iconic waterfront destination for Penang and for the benefit of the people of Penang,” Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said in a news conference at his office here.

“Drawing inspiration from some of the world’s best public spaces we aspire to create a spacious, multi-functional public park-in-the-city that is international in standard yet 100% Penang in spirit,” he said.

“We want to create a catalyst not only for tourism but also for economic prosperity, and to put Penang back on the global map,” he added.

Lim said the state has already approved land reclamation work for the Gurney Drive seafront and is now proposing the concept masterplan for Gurney Wharf on 131 acres of reclaimed land to gain public feedback.

Lim commended E&O for the group’s initiative in engaging award-winning international consultants at its own cost to prepare the plan.

The consultants – GDP Architects for the overall masterplan, Grant Associates for landscaping and Jerde Partnership for retail F&B – were highly acclaimed and have impressive portfolios that include the Aga Khan-award-winning Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (by GDP), Gardens by the Bay in Singapore (Grant) and Roppongi Hills, Japan (Jerde).

The proposed masterplan for the massive project, expected to cost hundreds of millions ringgit, will be publicly displayed at an exhibition at Level Two in Komtar from today until Friday.

The exhibition, titled “My Gurney Wharf”, will also be displayed at the Gurney Plaza mall for nine days from this Friday.

The 18-month land reclamation works along the seafront of Gurney Drive is expected to start by the end of March while safety fencing along the stretch of promenade will be put up by the end of this month.

According to E&O group corporate strategy director Lyn Chai, the 2km-long anti-climb mesh fencing will be along the perimeter of the Seri Tanjung Pinang Phase Two (STP2) and Gurney Drive foreshore reclamation area.

“We will use a specially-designed permeable mesh fencing material so that the public can continue to use the promenade and enjoy the sea view and breeze,” she said.

TPD is reclaiming land for STP2 as per its concession agreement and reclaiming an additional 131 acres along Gurney Drive for the Penang government.

Lim said it was premature to talk about the cost of the project.

“We have to wait for land reclamation to be completed first before we come to the components of the project. The reclamation is given to us for free.

“When the project has come to fruition, only then will we look into payment, most probably in kind.

“It can be contra through other means, as we do not intend to pay them in cash, perhaps through development,” Lim said.

In the proposal, Gurney Wharf’s seaside retail area will consist of a public promenade and seafront dining facilities including the island’s famed hawker fare and a pier walk.

The water gardens area will be defined by lush gardens, ponds and wetlands with its most distinctive feature being landscaped water gardens with innovative storm water filtration systems.

Modelled after Singapore’s success with this at Gardens By The Bay, this is a pioneering system in Malaysia which is aesthetically outstanding as it is functional.

The beach area will allow the public to gain greater access to nearly 400 metres of the waterfront area that includes a specially-created sandy beach as well as a public park promenade. The existing casuarina trees – a signature of Gurney Drive – would be preserved.

Within the coastal grove, there would be a skate park for teens and youth, not far from the casuarinas lining the present Gurney Drive. The existing casuarinas are a signature of Gurney Drive and will be mindfully preserved.

In enabling easy access to the waterfront for everybody, the proposed concept masterplan incorporates two pedestrian retail underpasses with direct access from Pulau Tikus town.

Conveniences such as underpass lifts and escalators, separate pedestrian walkways and cycling paths as well as ramps for wheelchairs and strollers have been included in the design.

There will also be some 1,500 car park bays above and below ground level.

Once the project is approved, Phase One of Gurney Wharf is expected to be completed by middle of 2018. The second phase – the seafront retail outlets – is scheduled for completion by 2020.

Penang’s Gurney Wharf Masterplan

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