Rapid development here has led to a glut of commercial units, particularly shop houses, which are mushrooming into swathes of vacant shoplots. (Pix by ZUNNUR AL SHAFIQ)

A number of commercial projects around the nation resemble ghost towns, with swathes of vacant shop lots. Besides being an eyesore, they also serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other unsavoury activities as well as reflect negatively on economic growth.

MALACCA: Rapid development here has led to a glut of commercial units, particularly shop houses, which are mushrooming into swathes of vacant shoplots.

A registered valuer, who declined to be named, said sluggish development of existing large scale projects in the heart of the Malacca city have thwarted the confidence of business owners in renting shop houses for their businesses. 

"An example would be the development of a theatre, Impression Melaka project, slated to bring in development. It is, however, not ready yet so, the growth of the surrounding area will not be as fast as projected," he told New Straits Times here.

He added that an oversupply of shop houses in the state was also due to a slower economic outlook especially when the gross domestic product (GDP) growth is lower than six per cent. 

"Generally, the demand for shop lots will be good when the GDP growth is six per cent or more. Commercial activities will drop when GDP drops and vice versa," he said.

Checks by the New Straits Times revealed stretches of vacant shop lots in Pulau Melaka, Klebang, Kota Laksamana, Jasin Bestari and Taman IKS Merdeka. 

A local now residing in Kuala Lumpur; Yaw Sing Kiu, 80 said she previously invested in a shop lot in Pulau Melaka but suffered losses after being forced to sell it at a lower price. 

"I bought the property sometime in the mid 1990's and has been vacant since. There were many attempts to get people to rent my property but they did not want to risk it as other nearby shop lots were also vacant," she said. 

Yaw, who did not want to incur losses paying more than RM2,000 in assessment fees twice a year, decided to sell the property some 10 years later.

"I could not stand forking out money to pay the assessment fees every half a year without renting the building out. 

"So I decided to sell the property at RM200,000, although I purchased it at RM300,000 and this was excluding agency fees," she added.

It learnt that KAJ development took over and revived commercial units in Pulau Melaka with Certificates of Fitness (CF) and keys handed to new owners but they have remained vacant. 

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron had on Feb 1 said he would make efforts to revive abandoned projects in the state.

Kota Melaka Member of Parliament Sim Tong Him also pointed out two big projects in the Kota Melaka parliamentary constituency which must be given attention to, as some had been left abandoned for more than 20 years.

"The multiple-storey Bachang Mall in Kampung Lapan is also abandoned and Plaza Melaka at the Gajah Berang junction has been abandoned since 1990's," he added. 

It is learnt that some 405 units of Melaka Village Paradise Resort in Ayer Keroh, Hotel Merak Pantai Puteri service apartment (214 units), Pacific Inn in Tengkera and Explanade Condominium in Klebang have also yet to be revived.

The projects were said to have suffered financial woes with the state government attempting to identify new developers to take over the abandoned projects.

Meanwhile, State Real Estate and Housing Developers' Association (Rehda) chairman Datuk Ngoh King Hua said that the oversupply of shop houses was because of the 40 per cent Bumiputera quota enforced by the state government. 

"Developing commercial properties is not as rapid as four or five years back, but the problem is that developers are unable to sell residential and industrial Bumiputera lots. 

"But we believe that there is a demand from non-Bumiputera if the available shop houses could be released to them," he said.

Ngoh said the sight of vacant shop houses and industrial units would reflect badly on the state's economic growth as having occupied shop houses meant that rapid economic activities was taking place there.

** Additional reporting by Zahrayatul Mat Arif, Nabilah Hamudin

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