The Malaysian state of Johor is at the southernmost end of the Malay Peninsula, where the Straits of Johor form the border between Malaysia and Singapore. Johor Bahru is the capital of the state, and it’s where the first and busiest border crossing to Singapore is.
For years JB languished in the shadow of its prosperous neighbour, and it had a seedy border town reputation. Now it’s waking up to its geographical potential as being a cheaper alternative to Singapore, and new developments are transforming the city and its surrounds.
The southern portion of the state has been designated as a special economic region known as Iskandar Malaysia. This was formerly known as Iskandar Development Region (IDR) and South Johor Economic Region (SJER), and the region has been likened to Shenzhen.
This post features various current and proposed buildings, new cities, and transport projects in Johor Bahru and around Iskandar Malaysia. Feel free to send more suggestions and I will add them.
[Map of Johor.]
[Image via straitstimes.com.]
Location: Ibrahim International Business District (IIBD), Johor Bahru.
Coronation Square is in the centre of Johor Bahru in the Ibrahim International Business District (IIBD). The IIBD covers the area between JB Sentral Station and the botanical gardens, so it’s basically the entire inner city core. The development has been described as Johor Baru’s KLCC.
[Image via ASEAN Skyline.]
The centrepiece of the proposed business district will be Coronation Square, which will include an office tower, serviced apartments, a hotel, medical suite, and a podium-level mall. The main tower is planned to be 370 metres tall.
[Image via edgeprop.my.]
R&F Princess Cove
Location: Jalan Tanjung Puteri, 1, R&F, Tanjung Puteri, Johor Bahru.
Driving across the Causeway Bridge from Singapore the first thing you’ll see is R&F Princess Cove. This development features a dense cluster of apartment blocks that overlooks the Strait, and a separate office tower and hotel will flank the bridge as a gateway to the city.
There is also an opera house next to the bridge, which is reminiscent of the style and position of the Sydney Opera House.
[Image via discoverjb.com.]
R&F Princess Cove is near the Johor Bahru Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine Complex (CIQ), and a pedestrian bridge has been built to connect the apartments to JB Sentral/CIQ.
Quayside JBC is a proposed apartment tower with a view of Singapore and easy access to the border crossing.
Tropicana Danga Bay
Tropicana Danga Bay is a development by Tropicana Corporation Berhad, jointly developed with Iskandar Waterfront Sdn Bhd. The project covers 37 acres facing the Sungai Sekuda waterfront, and it includes residential, commercial, and a convention centre.
Lido WaterFront Boulevard
“The Lido Waterfront Boulevard is a 163-acre mixed development in Johor Bahru featuring serviced residences, a five-star hotel, offices, retail shopping, a recreational facility, a coastal park, a cultural centre, education and healthcare facilities. A cable car system linking the Lido Waterfront Boulevard with Singapore has been proposed to enable residents to commute to the city state with ease. Tropicana has partnered with Raffles American School and Raffles University to provide homebuyers with attractive rebates when their children sign up to these institutions.”
Location: Jalan Harimau, Taman Abad, Johor Bahru.
Space Residency features a hotel tower and 60-storey apartment tower. Space Residency is near KSL City Mall and Holiday Villa.
One Bukit Senyum
Phase one of The Astaka has been completed and the two 70 and 65 floor towers have become landmarks of the city. At 278.8 metres, it became the tallest residential tower in Southeast Asia.
Phase 2 will include the new headquarters of the Johor Bahru City Council, serviced apartments, a five-star hotel, and a shopping mall.
Berjaya Waterfront Hotel re-development
[Tebrau Waterfront Residences.]
This development area is where the Sungai River meets the Johor Strait. There are several developments happening along the waterfront that would turn this into another business district within JB.
The biggest (and most controversial) development in all of Johor is the Forest City project. Forest City consists of four man-made islands west of Johor Bahru, near the Singapore Second Link. It’s expected to eventually be home to 700,000 people.
Forest City covers 3,425 acres, and the islands feature different zones:
– High Tech Industrial Zone
– Central Business District and Tourism Zone
– Financial and Economic Districts
– Conference and Forum Zone
[Image via forestcityiskandarhome.com.]
The US$100 billion project has been controversial due to the number of foreigners buying property, with “planeloads of Chinese buyers” flying in to buy. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir said that Malaysia will not allow foreigners to buy residential units, which threw doubt and confusion onto the development. One of the main concerns was that investors were buying residential visas to live in Malaysia, which is not the case.
Read more about Forest City.
Newsletters subscribers can read my review: Forest City – Futuristic city or farcical folly?
Kuala Lumpur to Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR)
[Image via straitstimes.com.]
The Kuala Lumpur to Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) is a proposed new railway completely separate from the current line. The HSR would serve seven stations in Malaysia and Jurong East in Singapore, with an end-to-end travel time of 90 minutes.
Iskandar Puteri Station in Gerbang Nusajaya will be the border station of Malaysia. The co-located Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) facilities will be located there. International-bound passengers will go through CIQ clearance by both countries’ authorities only at the point of departure.
This project was on the verge of getting started in 2018, but the new Malaysian government has asked Singapore to defer the project until 2022 due to the high cost.
If/when this project does go ahead it will move the centre of gravity from Johor Bahru to the Second Link area.
Singapore–Johor Bahru Rapid Transit System (RTS Link)
[Image via @ChannelNewsAsia.]
Johor Bahru has become a virtual suburb of Singapore, with cheaper cost of living being an incentive for thousands to make the daily commute across the strait. To help ease congestion on the Causeway a metro railway is planned to connect JB to Singapore.
The train will run from Bukit Chagar to Woodlands North, and passengers will clear Malaysia and Singapore immigration at the point of departure. Woodlands North Station will be connected to the future Thomson-East Coast MRT Line. The RTS Link will replace the current cross-border shuttle train (KTM Shuttle Tebrau.)
The project is expected to be completed by 2024, and it is likely that more apartment projects will be built around Bukit Chagar for commuters who want a speedy departure to Singapore. For example, the proposed 50-storey Twin Tower Residence by MB Group depicts what the Bukit Chagar RTS station might look like.
[Image via skyscrapercity.com.]
[Image via skyscrapercity.com.]
A proposed 239m and 100m+ tower project in Johor Bahru.
Hao Yuan Tower
It was initially proposed as being the tallest building in Malaysia before settling at 405.5 metres. Since then the project has gone quiet, so this may eventually be filed as a “never built”. I’ve not found any images for it, so if you know of one send it over.
IN FOCUS: Johor’s Iskandar region languished during COVID-19. Could it flourish again? – [18/02/23]
“With the reopening of borders and positive signals from both the state and federal governments, Iskandar Malaysia is poised to pick up where it left off. CNA looks at how the property sector, transport infrastructure and foreign investments are key to this effort.”
Singapore slings hope for Iskandar’s future – [05/03/22]
“Without a doubt, Singapore is among Iskandar Malaysia’s biggest cheerleaders; and the success of Malaysia’s ambitious project is inextricably linked to its neighbour.”
Uncertainties limit Iskandar Malaysia’s potential – [08/10/20]
“Uncertainties in policies, including the postponement of Johor Baru (JB)-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS), have prevented Iskandar Malaysia from realising its true potential, said Datamine founder and head of research Jerren Lai.”