Penang calls for proposals to restore Fort Cornwallis

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang state government has issued a request for proposal (RFP) to develop the over two-century old Fort Cornwallis, which will involve the development of more than 15.5 acres of prime land situated in the heart of George Town's heritage enclave.

Two tenders for the management of the fort were called last year, one which attracted one proposal and the other attracted seven.

While the first tender did not go through due to financial and technical reasons, the second was cancelled as most of the proposals had also incorporated the redevelopment of an adjoining carpark and food court.

Chief minister Lim Guan Eng said with the RFP, which will also include the fort, carpark and foodcourt, an integrated development of the historic site can be ensured.

Lim said the RFP would allow creative and innovative ideas from companies participating in the project, instead of being restricted to certain specifications as stipulated in the tender documents.

The RFP is for the refurbishment, restoration, enhancement and management of the three lots of Fort Cornwallis.

However, certain conditions have been stipulated in the RFP, which will be considered by the state government.

This includes the project being implemented under a build-operate-transfer concept, while the state government would enter into an agreement with the successful company for a period of 30 years (15 + 15).

"The company shall pay the state government an amount mutually agreed upon for 15 years, which will be reviewed every five years, with a maximum increase of 20%.

"Besides the lease period, the amount of investment put in by the company to restore, refurbish, enhance and manage the fort would also be considered.

"This RFP is in line with our vision of creating a unique and prestigious tourism product that will raise Penang's profile internationally and transform Fort Cornwallis into a destination for high-value tourists.

"The state government wants to unlock the strategic value of state assets to generate revenue through the public-private partnership," Lim said at a press conference.

However, the company will not be allowed to charge the land for financing and is also prohibited from being used as collateral. The land also should not be sub-leased or transferred to a third party.

At the end of the term, the project will be transferred back to the state government at no cost.

Lim said since Fort Cornwallis is listed as a heritage building in the core zone of the Unesco World Heritage site, the company must fulfil all heritage requirements and incorporate conservation and preservation elements with green building index technology.

"All proposals must include information pertaining to the company, corporate, technical, financial capabilities, project feasibility, physical design of project, implementation schedule, cost estimates, financial and return of investment, tourism and marketing strategies as well as benefits to the state government," Lim added.

The RFP is open to local and foreign companies with a minimum paid-up capital of US$50,000 (RM163,200), will begin on June 1 and end on Aug 30.

The star-shaped fort was built by Captain Francis Light in 1786 and named after the then British Governor General of India Charles Marquis Cornwallis.

The site is currently being managed by the state Tourism Development and Culture office.

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