Think City launches RM30m urban regeneration grants

KUALA LUMPUR: Think City Sdn Bhd, a community-based urban regeneration organisation, has launched its Think City Grants Programmme (TCGP) worth RM30 million for initiatives to rejuvenate Butterworth in Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Iskandar Malaysia in Johor.

TCGP is modelled after the organisation’s maiden George Town Grants Programme (GTGP), which was launched in 2009, and will now include the new locations in Penang besides the original George Town.

The programme, targeted at city stakeholders — such as residents, non-governmental organisations and private property owners — to take ownership of their city, intends to disburse RM8 million to RM10 million per annum over three years starting from next year, said its chief executive officer Hamdan Abdul Majeed.

“In terms of the focus of the grant, we are looking at any urban improvement project, so long as the participants can contribute to urban renewal work. We would like to crowdsource for ideas … We want to look at the merit of the ideas and how they will impact the city,” Hamdan told reporters yesterday.

TCGP will focus on projects to be implemented in key areas, namely the old town centre of Butterworth; a 1km radius around Masjid Jamek in downtown Kuala Lumpur; and Medini in Iskandar.

“Butterworth is a counterpoint to George Town. It is a secondary city that has characteristics similar to other secondary cities in Malaysia … They are small cities with a narrow population and limited activity, and are struggling to figure out their city’s vocation.

“Then Kuala Lumpur is a very large space, and where do we focus on to enhance its identity and strengths to make it more attractive? In the case of Iskandar Malaysia, we want to know how we can add to Iskandar to make it a global metropolis,” said Hamdan.

hamdan_thinkcity_19dec2014 Meanwhile, GTCP has been well received by the local community. So far, it has given out RM17.5 million in small grants to fund over 240 projects and is completing an impact study of the programme.

Think City estimates that GTCP has attracted co-investment of RM6 for every RM1 allocated.

Some of the programmes that it has implemented include the restoration of heritage buildings, public art such as the installations and murals at Lebuh Armenian, and youth education.

As Think City is a unit of Khazanah Nasional Bhd, its programmes’ initial funding comes from the national treasury’s Yayasan Khazanah. However, Think City also hopes to rope in other parties to also contribute to the programme, said Hamdan.

“We haven’t approached other foundations yet because we want to show results first,” he said.

The deadline for grant applications is Jan 31, 2015, and the first rounds of successful applicants are expected to be announced in early April.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on December 19, 2014.

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