The four-acre plot now houses the SK (Sekolah Kebangsaan) Pykett Methodist, which has been in existence since 1955.
Sources told The Edge Financial Daily that developers were scrambling for the plot following rumours that the school was toying with the idea of relocating elsewhere in the years to come.
The decision to relocate is being considered due to the dwindling number of pupils enrolled at the school, a similar problem faced by other urban schools on the island as George Town’s population emigrates from the city centre to suburban areas.
Currently, there are only 200 pupils enrolled in SK Pykett Methodist from Year One to Year Six.
Due to the scarcity of land on the island for development, and development restrictions in the core and buffer zones of the Unesco World Heritage site, developers are hotly pursuing the remaining undeveloped land parcels in George Town.
The four-acre plot where SK Pykett Methodist is located has become a prime target after developer Mah Sing Group Bhd recently acquired a 3.38-acre freehold plot of land opposite the school for RM38.65 million.
Mah Sing paid RM262.19 per sq ft for the land (147,416 sq ft) to be developed into a high-end condominium with an estimated gross development value of RM280 million.
Mah Sing acquired the land from Khaw Bian Cheng Sdn Bhd. The land used to belong to the late Khaw Bian Cheng, who had served as the governor of Satun and Yala in Thailand and was the last quasi governor living in Penang.
Sources say that a few developers have approached the Wesley Methodist Church for the school land. Among their plans for the land included an integrated development.
Real estate experts say the land is now valued at RM150 per sq ft as it is for educational purposes, but it could fetch double the price once it is rezoned for commercial development. Market sources say developers are willing to pay the amount or even more for the plot.
Sources say the church also is toying with its own plans to redevelop the plot for educational purposes, either a college or even a private school.
It is also learnt that the church is exploring the possibility of buying another plot of land elsewhere in the suburban growth areas for the school to relocate to as it would then have better enrolment numbers.
However, no proposal or application has yet to be made by the church to the ministry or the local authorities for the purpose.