Business Improvement District Schemes

First introduced in Canada and the US in the 1970s, a Business Improvement District (BID) is a precisely defined geographical area within which the businesses have voted to invest in local improvements to enhance their trading environment.

Think City has identified Komplex Tun Abdul Razak (KOMTAR) and its surrounding area as a candidate for a BID scheme to rejuvenate the innter city and transform the area into a premier shopping destination as well as a bustling cultural, business and social centre.

KOMTAR is an iconic building in George Town and Malaysia.  It forms part of the larger KOMTAR project, which began in 1974 as a city within a city.  It was envisioned that the 11 hectare site would form a modern urban living space comprising governmental offices, hotels, shopping arcades, a transport hub and a five-acre roof top garden.  It was conceptualised by then Chief Minister of Penang Dr. Lim Chong Eu as a means to revitalise the urban centre of George Town.

The 11-hectare site is divided into five phases of implementation.  1st Avenue Mall, which is Phase 3 of the project, is a contemporary urban mall that was completed in 2010.  Phases 4 & 5 will be converted into an urban park.  Earlier phases of the project, however, are now run-down and under utilised.  In addition, the surrounding area including a number of malls such as GAMMA and Times Square have also deteriorated to a shabby state and is prone to traffic congestion.

For a BID scheme to work, a smooth working partnership between local government and business is crucial. In January 2011, a consultant was appointed to put all individual regeneration proposals together and submit a proposed plan to the Municipal Council of Penang Island for their consideration. Think City was also able to engaged Rapid Penang and the bus operator is now considering creating a dedicated bus service connecting all these properties. If successful, the KOMTAR area will be Asia’s first Business Improvement District.



  1. Cluster BID
  2. Satellite BID
  3. Proto BID


  1. Established through a ballot of those who will be expected to pay the levy.
  2. Authorized by local governments based on local plans reflecting the priorities of those who will be sharing the expenses.
  3. Authorize management organisations to carry out a prescribed range of projects and services. A board of directors oversees the work and is principally composed of the private sector people with government representation.
  4. Typically are authorised for a maximum of five years and maybe renewed at the end of the BID term.
  5. Local governments must approve a compulsory charge on the benefitting business that is accepted as fair and adequate to their needs.
  6. Most employ a professional person or small staff for day to day operations and to help businesses.