Housing Solutions in Asia Pacific Iskandar Malaysia: A Look at SEA's Next Eco-friendly Economic Hub
OREANDA-NEWS. Iskandar Malaysia, located on the southernmost tip of Malaysia (in Johor Bahru), was established in 2006 and covers an area of over 2200 square kilometres (more than three times the size of its neighbour Singapore).
Three major ports and an international airport, as well as prime location along Asia's major shipping routes, make Iskandar Malaysia attractive to a multitude of investors. The Malaysian government is doing its part to ensure the project's success by offering tax incentives to qualifying companies.
Along with income-tax incentives to attract skilled knowledge workers to the region, three "incentives zones" exist within the project where there are no foreign-ownership restrictions, no minimum price thresholds for foreign buyers and investors are exempt from paying real property gains tax (RPGT) until 31 December 2025. They include:
- Medina and Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios (creative projects).
- Danga Bay (tourism projects).
- Vantage Bay (healthcare projects).
The Malaysian government envisages that the development will become "a strong, sustainable conurbation of international standing". As of 2013, cumulative committed investments in Iskandar Malaysia reached a total of RM131.64 billion, with 64 percent contributed by domestic investors.
Green living in Iskandar Malaysia
The overall development plan of Iskandar Malaysia is geared towards eco-friendly growth with a focus on reducing the zone's carbon footprint. According to a presentation by the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA), Iskandar Malaysia is on its way to becoming a model sustainable city. Major green initiatives include:
Environmental protectionPreservation of the natural environment is an important aspect of the project. The Malaysian government and Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) are also committed to protecting the wetlands and national parks while allowing travellers access to them.
Three of Malaysia's six Ramsar sites - located in Iskandar Malaysia - are exclusively home to 25 mangrove species. Efforts to preserve the environment also ensure that five national parks located in Johor (Endau Rompin, Pulau Kukup, Tanjung Piai, Gunung Ledang and the islands off the coast of Mersing) are protected.
In addition to protecting Johor's natural beauty, developed areas will include a network of parks and other green areas, totalling over 23,000 hectares of land dedicated to lush greenery.
In just the second phase of development, Iskandar Malaysia has already exceeded its first-phase goals, according to IRDA's Five Year Progress Report. Currently, investment opportunities for businesses and home buyers are attractively priced.
In recent years, given Johor's close proximity to Singapore, Iskandar Malaysia has seen significant investment with more than 3,500 Singapore businesses (including popular snack maker Old Chang Kee) established in Iskandar with a total investment of more than RM5bn as at Jun 2012. In addition, there has been a push in the residential portfolio due to the growing interests for housing companies to develop smart cities and further advance the green living standards of the zone.
Given the project's rapid growth and commitment to a sustainable future, Iskandar Malaysia has the potential to meet its ambitions of being Southeast Asia's premier environmentally responsible, economic hub.