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Saturday, April 16, 2011

BRDB sets benchmark

6 CapSquare’s strategic location offers commanding views of the KL city skyline including the Petronas Twin Towers and the KL Tower.

In recent years, the emphasis on the property market in and around the Klang Valley has been more than just about having a roof over one's head. The magic word is lifestyle and developers have been overzealously throwing in features which include the elements of luxury into their projects.

Bandar Raya Developments Bhd (BRDB) is one of them. Says chief marketing officer K.C. Chong: “BRDB will not enter a location to fit into the (prevailing) standard of that location. Instead, we will carry our own standard that fits with our image.”

Chong says he is working towards all its projects having an international standard. He does not equate international standards with lifestyle offerings. It is just that best international practices include certain elements of functionality and luxury.

Before the year is over, BRDB will unveil its condominium development in Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur near the Jalan Duta area. The company is set to create a new benchmark in that location in terms of design, quality and pricing. He is quick to add that the new project by BRDB will not have the Dutamas pricing. Properties in the Dutamas area is about half that of Mont' Kiara properties on a per-sq-ft basis. The Dutamas pricing is RM300-RM350 per sq ft today, while adjacent Mont' Kiara-Solaris is about RM550 per sq ft, according to a realtor. Newer projects there cost about RM600-RM630 per sq ft.

Yet to be named, the North Kiara Phase 1 development will have a gross development value of about RM400mil with 298 units. That project will have two phases with a total of 698 units with average build-up of about 1,400 sq ft. Show units will be built in Menerung, Bangsar where it first offered for sale One Menerung, says Chong. It will be put on sale by the middle of this year, says Chong.

The company's second high-end project is in Taman Duta, Kuala Lumpur. Still in its planning and design stage, this low-rise condominium project on about 12 acres of sheer greenery and forestry will be unveiled next year.

Chong declined to reveal more other than to emphasise the point that both these developments will feature the brand image of the company, as with its most luxurious development to date, The Troika, located in the vicinity of KLCC city centre.

Chong says BRDB is investing in a series of enhancements for The Troika, a project by world renowned architect Sir Norman Forster who built London's Millennium Bridge, besides other projects around the world. An outdoor bar and a larger area for children are in the works. The lobby will also be given a new image and the minimalist ambience done away with.

“It will be different after this series of investments,” says Chong.

The KLCC location, he says, will always remain iconic. “The Petronas Twin Towers is very recognisable. It is just unfortunate that along with other locations, it suffered during the last financial crisis,” he says, adding that although there is a perception that prices are high there, to a great extent, prices have stabilised over the last year.

“That location is revered, like New York's Central Park and London's Hyde Park,” he says.

Once the period of enhancement is over, Chong promises that The Troika, which comes with retail on lower floors, will be a very attractive proposition. The details of that enhancement programme is currently being planned and scrutinised. Currently, there are a lot of vacant units in that location with rental rates of about RM4 per sq ft. The huge supply is a legacy of the euphoria of 2006/2007 when developers jumped on the KLCC bandwagon and added their footprint there.

While The Troika will add glitter and glam to its image as a developer, in time to come, and if the design and enhancement of that location is on the cards in line with the government's economic transformation programme to make Kuala Lumpur more liveable its real jewel may actually be CapSquare, located just a few minutes drive away from KLCC. That triangle-shaped 15.2-acre development is bordered by Jalan Munshi Abdullah, Jalan Dang Wangi and Jalan Ampang. The Klang River parallels Jalan Ampang.

There's a great deal of history and old Kuala Lumpur that CapSquare could leverage on. “It's building the new based on the foundation of the past. From CapSquare, one can easily discover the neighbourhood of Masjid India an enclave of Indian shops reminiscent of a bazaar with some of the best Indian food in town or the antiquated Malay houses of Kampung Baru with their well-tended gardens.

“Colourful Chinatown, a well-known bargain hunter's paradise is only a few subway stops away. But KL is not short of the 21st century either. Here post-modern architecture may sit beside gorgeous colonial buildings and it is on this plane that the development of CapSquare fits into this puzzle of the old and new.”

Consider the following: Across Jalan Ampang is the Bukit Nenas forest reserve. Across from Jalan Munshi Abdullah is the old shopping district of Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman that goes back decades which leads to the old Masjid Jamek Mosque and upon which the city of Kuala Lumpur took shape in the 19th century. A lot of history there.

Then there is the Klang River which may come under the Government's river of life project, a beautification programme to clean up the river in order to enhance real estate value on both sides of it. Then, there is Jalan Ampang, another piece of history there.

“There are certainly a lot of linkages that CapSquare can leverage on. The thing is to integrate all these with CapSquare and its cobblestone street,” he says.

While it is possible to take a walk from CapSquare to the KLCC, the heat and humidity may be a drawback today. What is needed, says Chong, is for the outer peripheral and within CapSquare itself is to have pockets or clusters of greenery to provide a green canopy to make it a pleasant walk into the old parts of Kuala Lumpur. That would be ideal and runs with what botanist Dr Francis Ng says about Kuala Lumpur's liveability.

Says botanist Dr Francis Ng during an interview on how to make the city more liveable: “Plant clusters of three to five trees, of different species, here and there within Kuala Lumpur and its various developments and before you know it, you have a series of connecting corridors of green.” Ng is the former deputy director-general of the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia .

This will mean more investments but it will bring the diversity that the tropics offers into CapSquare, which today, is pretty much concrete.

Says Chong: “Green canopies will integrate CapSquare with our surrounding areas and beyond, right up to the KLCC vicinity.”

At the moment, Chong is focusing on what is within CapSquare. 6CapSquare, with a GDV of RM241mil, is the second residential development there; the first is CapSquare Residences. Prices for this second development start from RM950 per sq ft. Sizes range from 1,000 sq ft to 4,400 sq ft.

Beyond Kuala Lumpur, BRDB also has a presence in Johor Baru. This year, it started selling The Straits View Residences a landed, gated and guarded development in the south-east sector of Bandar Baru Permas Jaya, Johor Baru. With a gross development value of RM230mil, this project involves a 35-acre freehold strata land parcel within Permas Jaya.

The semi-detached units are priced from RM1.3mil while the bungalows start at RM2.4mil. Phases 1 and 2 enjoyed brisk sales and based on that, Phase 3 is now open for sale. Chong says this is Johor Baru's first strata-titled project.

By The Star

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