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BLand to kick off luxury village on Jeju island

JEJU (South Korea): Berjaya Land Bhd (BLand) will kick off its multi-billion dollar integrated resort development known as Berjaya Jeju Resort or Berjaya Jeju Airest City with a luxury project, Gotjawal Village, on the southern coast of Jeju island in South Korea.

Gotjawal Village will cover an area of 92,811 sq m and will feature 51 villas and 96 shophouses with an estimated total gross development value (GDV) of US$250 million (RM763 million).

"We are looking at South Korean CEOs and professionals as well as creative industries to come to Gotjawal Village," CEO Datuk Francis Ng Sooi Lin told reporters and fund managers at a briefing in Jeju yesterday.

BLand also plans to attract the affluent Chinese who visit the island to enjoy its scenery, natural wonders and various world-class golf courses.

The Seaside Maison villas and the Market Walk shophouses are tentatively priced from US$2 million to US$3 million and US$500,000 to US$2 million respectively.

Foreigners who buy properties worth at least US$500,000, or 500 million won, are eligible for permanent residency in South Korea, which is an especially attractive proposition for China nationals. Jeju offers tourist visa exemptions for 187 countries, including China, with about half of the tourists from the republic.

Gotjawal Village is part of South Gate 3, which comprises a five-star resort hotel and lodging called Art Valley. Ng said the group is in talks with The Ritz Carlton Hotel to operate the hotel.

South Gate 3, along with South Gate 1 and 2, as well as North Gate 1 and 2, form Berjaya Jeju Resort, which will feature a medical centre, more hotels, a one million sq ft mall, spa, auditorium and a casino.

The entire development has an estimated GDV of US$3.2 billion and will be on an 183-acre tract along the southern coast of Jeju island.

So far, BLand has ploughed in about US$35 million for infrastructure in the area, which includes roads. Berjaya Leisure (Cayman) Ltd, a unit of BLand, holds a 72.6% stake while Jeju Free International City Development Centre tasked with developing and promoting Jeju, holds a 19% stake, and Swan Street Partners LLP with the remaining 8.4%.

BLand is also in talks with some parties to run the casino, and the group hopes the casino can tap the South Korean market, said Ng.

The Jeju government is in talks with the South Korean central government for the right to issue licences for casinos catering to locals. Currently, Jeju's government can issue licences for casinos that welcome foreigners only.

Ng said the group is still considering various development options, whether to jointly develop the mall with another party or build then sell it.

Two operators, Lotte Shopping Co Ltd and Shinsegae Co Ltd, have approached the group to buy the parcel of land designated for the mall, which is behind the Seaside Maison.

There are five other major projects in the pipeline in Jeju, a special self-governing province within South Korea. They are Global Education City, Jeju Healthcare Town, Jeju Science Park, Myths and History Theme Park and Seogwipo Tourism Port.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on Nov 2, 2012.

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