Poor planning leads to 670ha of vacant commercial space

Johari says developers need to have a proper plan in building and marketing their shopping malls

by D KANYAKUMARI / pic by AFIF ADB HALIM

Malaysia currently has 278.7ha (30 million sq ft) of vacant spaces in shopping malls on top of 390ha (42 million sq ft) vacant office spaces as a result of poor planning, said Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani.

Johari said developers need to have a proper plan in building and marketing their shopping malls.

“You see, anybody can build an office, provided you know how to market the office building. That is why a free market is needed to be able to market it well,” he said.

“But at the same time, developers need to be cautioned. They cannot just go out there and build a shopping mall without planning how they are going to market it and who they will market it to,” Johari said.

He also said in the future, developers who feel that their areas lacked malls or offices should air their grouses to Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Tan Sri Noh Omar.

Johari said this in response to questions on whether the Finance Ministry still had concerns on the issue of increasing vacant malls and office lots.

On Nov 1, the Cabinet made a ruling that high-rise luxury residential projects with units costing above RM1 million, along with offices and shopping malls, would not be approved and was applicable to the entire country.

Meanwhile, Noh said the decision was made as there are many vacant spaces in commercial and housing land in the country.

“For housing projects, there are 130,690 unsold units just in the first quarter of 2017. Of that, 83% of the properties were above RM250,000.

“This is reflective of the imbalance between the supply and demand in the property market,” he said in a statement yesterday.

“Having said that however, developers who would still like to proceed with building a property project in the city could make an official application to the ministry for an exception,” he added.

Noh said the approval will be given on a case-by-case basis, until the freeze is lifted.

Earlier, Johari witnessed the topping up ceremony for Prudential Assurance Malaysia Bhd’s new headquarters in Tun Razak Exchange (TRX).

The 27-storey — which costs RM500 million to build — is one of the three financial buildings in TRX.

Johari also said that TRX has started projects with both HSBC Bank Malaysia Bhd and Affin Bank Bhd that will be opening their office towers not too far from the Prudential building.

TRX expects China’s concession banks to be opened in the area soon.

According to Johari, 80% of TRX’s land have now been taken.

He reiterated that buildings to be built in the remaining 20% of the land will not be subject to the government’s moratorium freeze, as they were approved beforehand as an entire master plan.