Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Heritage of Penang

Downtown Penang is experiencing something of a property boom lately due to the Unesco Heritage City listing. I was expecting to spend close to or over a million on a shop or terrace house in Georgetown. While I dived further into heritage Penang , to my pleasant surprise, I found a lovely shop right bang in the heritage zone selling at RM351k.

The shop is located on Stewart lane, which is in the core of the Heritage zone. Obviously it is in a very bad condition but the shop is very long and has lots of commercial potential.

Unfortunately, when I called up it was already sold.... I fell into depression for 3 days, unable to sleep nor eat...

Now, that's an exaggeration. But I was really very sad to see it go. It is my hope that the buyer is not like the neighbour 2 doors away who installed an aircon sticking out right in the middle of the facade while destroying much of the beautiful louvre window.

As in any remedy of a jilted lover, the best thing to do is to find a new one. So, I set off around looking and found quite a few properties priced below RM1m. Such as the one below at Jalan Sekarat. It is a pre-war building which unfortunately was badly renovated by the owner. The most unfortunate thing is, the owner was quite proud of his renovation and insisted on pricing the property at RM600m. This is despite the less favourable location which is outside the boundary of the heritage zone.

What would one do with pre-war heritage buildings in Penang?
To me, even as an investor, such heritage buildings are not only for making money. It is for the love of the heritage, one would not only invest the money, but also the time to restore the buildings to their former glory. Obviously, this act while preserving the historic elements of the community and place, will also increase the value of the properties in the area in time to come. Brand Bon Ton is one such forward looking company. They have effectively restored a couple of rows of shophouses and also converted them for commercial value, running them as serviced residences called the Straits Collection. I would encourage one to visit their website (http://www.straitscollection.com.my/) and immerse yourself with the beauty.
Some wealthy people have also turned these properties into their residences, while preserving the facade and original structure of the exterior, they have fitted the interior with modern comforts fit for everyday living. One would just need to look at such similar concepts in London, Paris and even Singapore to be able to appreciate and see the success of such venture.
Do we all want to walk the streets of Penang and enjoy chic cafe's, antique shops, quaint back-packer inns and still be able to sample affordable local fares? Certainly, downtown Georgetown Penang has that charm and potential to make this happen. As long as the buildings don't fall into the wrong hands...


jeremy tan said...

Pascal the french guy who assisted with the architectural design of Penang bridge bought a unit there and with the help of his friend which is an interior designer managed to restore the building into its former glory. Not long after his restoration all the heritage buildings along that row started shooting up by a few hundred thousands.

I managed to visit his unit and its really beautifully done up. I gives me the prehistoric feeling that in this modern world is very hard to find.

Not all buildings have stories to tell. Only a few rare ones are able to stand proud among the soaring skyscrapers and minimalist designs which have become today's expressions of modernity

If you own a heritage building, you should be very proud of it.

If you listen well to historical buildings, you may just be able to hear the low murmurs and gentle footsteps of distant memories ensconced within its walls

Simon said...

are you buying this unit? 351k?

sinleong said...

it was sold

Anonymous said...

Jeremy Tan, which road is Pascal's unit?