Penang shophouse preservation, investment, and new business, like South Beach in the 80s

From Voice of America writer Yong Yen Nie: "In Georgetown, decades-old businesses are the major fascination in this heritage enclave, as shown by guide maps detailing traditional trades found here, including the bamboo curtain maker, beaded shoe designer and joss stick maker.  However, Georgetown is also seeing an influx of young locals into the town center to start new business ventures.  Since the city obtained its status as a UNESCO World Heritage City in 2008, there has been a steady stream of new restaurants, cafes and boutique hotels sprouting in Georgetown, mostly operated by locals under the age of 40 who see potential in expanding the hospitality and services sector. "A major draw for the young businessmen and women is the town’s charm. 'There is a growing appreciation for old shop houses by tourists and residents alike and hence, life in Georgetown is appealing for living and running businesses,' said Hung, who runs a little cafe on Armenien Street.  'The rent here is cheap, and I am not obligated to operate at stipulated hours, unlike in a shopping mall.  As long as I maintain my quality of service and food, I have my little following of customers that gives me consistent businesses,' Hung said."  Full article here.

From Star Property write Johnni Wong: "The cost of buying a pre-World War II shophouse in George Town, Penang, has reached a per square foot price equivalent to that of the poshest Kuala Lumpur city centre condominium units.  Contrary to popular notion that foreigners and investors from Kuala Lumpur are pushing up prices, recent transactions show that Penang investors are the ones who are buying in a substantial way. This is particularly true among those who have lived abroad.

"Such shophouse properties are often turned into 'heritage' hotels.  Probably, the best-known heritage projects are by Penang-born businessman Christopher Ong.  Together with business partners, he now owns and operates Muntri Mews, a nine-room hotel which was formerly a stable.  The Penaga Hotel project is another well-known development owned by veteran architect Hijjas Kasturi and his wife Angela.

"'Such heritage property are in a classic demand and supply situation. The supply side is limited and cannot be increased in tandem with the increase in demand,' says shophouse investor Gooi Kok Wah."  Full article here.