GEORGE TOWN: A land swap involving a residential and training centre for the blind and visually-impaired in a prime spot on Penang island appears to be on the cards.
Business Times has learnt that several property developers in Penang are eyeing the 74-year-old St Nicholas' Home (formerly known as St Nicholas School for the blind) along Jalan Bagan Jermal here in exchange for land elsewhere on the island.
At the heart of the proposed land swap is the Anglican Church, owners of the 2.4-hectare piece of land, which houses Malaysia's first education and rehabilitation institution for the blind.
Other schools founded by the Anglican Church in Penang include the premier Penang Free School, St George's Girls' School, St Mark's primary and secondary schools and Hutchings primary and secondary schools.
Sources said the proposal is to exchange the land - currently zoned for education purposes - for an undisclosed acreage of land, and the successful bidder will pay the difference in valuations to the landowners to balance the deal.
"There are at least two big property players wanting the land in exchange for their own land. The successful bidder will have to build a new school and chapel for the home at the alternative site," one source said.
It is learnt that the land, which sits in a leafy neighbourhood, is valued at around RM400 per sq ft.
The site is within close proximity to the Penang Chinese Girls High School, Penang Adventist Hospital and the sea-fronting Gurney Drive.
Another piece of prime land on the island, which has come under the spotlight for property players in recent months, is the 65-year-old Penang Sports Club, which is located in one of the island's green lungs and most valuable lots in George Town.
The New Straits Times last year reported that the club, which sits on 6.4ha of leasehold land along Jalan Utama, is believed to be on the brink of losing its clubhouse along with the main car park, swimming pool and most of the tennis courts as it struggles to come up with RM24 million to renew its lease.
The club had reportedly failed to raise the sum and its appeals to pay in instalments were rejected by the state government.
-- BUSINESS TIMES