SINGAPORE - A river in Johor Baru will be cleaned up and revitalised in a RM2.5 billion ($928 million) project to turn it into a tourist destination with riverfront cafes, heritage shows and apartments.
The River City @ Danga Bay project involves 6km of the 15-km-long Danga River.
The polluted river flows into the bigger Sekudai River, whose mouth is across the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve in Lim Chu Kang.
The Danga River plan will be the second most-expensive clean-up of a waterway river after the Malaysian government's RM4 billion multi-year project to clean up the meandering Klang River in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.
The project's launch on Friday came amid concerns raised by the Singapore government this week about the looming glut of residential properties in the Iskandar Malaysia development zone in southern Johor that includes Danga Bay.
But the developers said they are undeterred by the oversupply worries, as the property players will stagger their projects over a 15 to 20-year period.
Launching the ground-breaking ceremony yesterday, Johor Menteri Besar, Mohamed Khaled Nordin, said: "We will make Danga River come alive with river cruises, boardwalks, street sculptures, lifestyle malls, food, entertainment and other water sports facilities".
He said the 21ha project will be a boon for tourism and a playground for local youths, while the deepened river will be used for international-class water activities.
The project will be carried out by a subsidiary of property developer Iskandar Waterfront Holdings (IWH).
Reflecting the River City's ambitions are the names of the four components of the revitalised areas along the river.
The Venice will be its entertainment and shopping area, The Gateway the "new downtown" with hotels and offices, The Rivera its residential hub with apartments, and Fisherman's Wharf for festivals and street parties.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore board member Lawrence Wong told Parliament on Monday that nearly 336,000 private residential units are in the pipeline in Johor, more than all the private homes currently standing in Singapore. Most of these units are coming up in Iskandar.
"There is indeed a real concern about future oversupply in the property market there and hence the potential decline in value of homes," Mr Wong said.
Responding to the glut concerns in his speech when launching the River City project, IWH executive director Lim Chen Herng said: "Let me assure you that this will not happen because these foreign developers will stagger their planned projects according to market demand. Some of their projects are spread over a 15-20 year period.
"So there should be no fear of a property glut, as speculated by many analysts."