JOHOR BAHRU (July 29): With more new malls opening, coupled with weak market conditions, the hope of abandoned malls in the capital city of the southern region to attract white knights to rescue them seems even harder reported The Star.

One of them is the once iconic five-storey Water Front City (also known as Lot 1) mall, which is located along Persiaran Tun Sri Lanang in Kebun Merah – a prime location overlooking the Straits of Johor. It had more than 400 shops and once had an occupancy rate of almost 90%. 

However, no one ever expected this 28ha mixed development, which was touted as one of the world’s largest single seafront city developments, to shutter in 2003. It has since be left abandoned, just three years after its operation in 2000.

Currently, only the open car park area has been turned into a yard for the Johor Bahru City Council (MBJB) to store towed vehicles.

The news report, citing MBJB mayor Datuk Adib Azahari Daud, said the revival plan is not easy for Water Front City as the retail units were sold and owned by different owners, who are now untraceable and not responding to the notices by the authorities.

According to him, the Water Front City is one of the abandoned malls in Johor Bahru (JB) which has accumulated RM8 million of unpaid taxes to date. Other abandoned malls in JB include Pacific Mall and Danga City Mall.

On the possibility of revival, he noted that it is the responsibility of the owner, guarantors or liquidators to revive the mall. 

On being contacted, KGV International Property Consultants director Samuel Tan told that the retail market in JB is as weak as the Klang Valley’s although the daily Covid-19 cases are lower than the latter.

“It is the same because there have been many new malls established in the last few years. With border closures, the problem is compounded. It will be challenging. Many shops have closed since MCO 1.0,” he shared.

He added that it is important for the international border to be opened to see the revival of the segment post-pandemic, as the local retail malls are still very much dependent on shoppers from Singapore.

“Selected malls will recover faster than others [after pandemic]. But it is important for the border to be opened. Still depends on the Singapore market,” he concluded.

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