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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Greater KL initiatives a good opportunity for city to become a well-planned one

Without the softer and more artistic aspects, Kuala Lumpur will remain pretty much a concrete jungle.

KLANG Valley folks must be keeping their fingers crossed, hoping they will be able to inherit a better planned and user-friendly city when the Greater Kuala Lumpur (GKL) initiatives materialise.

If we look closer, Kuala Lumpur is just a sub-set of the Klang Valley and the GKL actually involves quite a number of local authorities as well as municipal and city councils. To be precise, the 279,327ha covers districts under 10 municipalities namely Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Selayang, Ampang Jaya, Petaling Jaya, Subang Jaya, Shah Alam, Klang, Kajang and Sepang.

To ensure this Economic Transformation Programme project becomes a reality, all the local authorities should join forces to achieve a common mission that has the potential to fast-track the GKL to join the ranks of the global liveable cities league.

It has been observed that the top three “best” cities in the world, according to Mercer Consulting's Quality of Living Survey are Vienna, Zurich and Auckland - all have great connectivity, cultural and civic amenities and green spaces.

The array of development projects that are going on in many parts of Kuala Lumpur and the other parts of the Klang Valley is indeed a rare and fortuitous opportunity for the GKL to be redesigned and revitalised to have the attributes of these global liveable cities.

One of the major concerns, however, is that most development projects in our cities are still being planned on an ad-hoc basis without a clear focus or theme that is part of a holistic master plan.

The importance of such a master plan cannot be over-emphasised as it acts as the development blueprint that will ensure all the different components will be planned in unison towards a bigger common objective.

Among the key components to look into are the provision of adequate infrastructure for fast and cost-efficient connectivity of people (good public transportation, roads and highways) as well as data and information (broadband connectivity) and dedicated spaces for cultural and civic amenities and green spaces.

It is time to showcase the softer and more artistic sides of Kuala Lumpur to promote cultural, arts and live performances which will intersperse with the brick and mortar of the capital city attributes that will create a more lasting impact on locals and visitors alike. Without those attributes, Kuala Lumpur will remain pretty much a concrete jungle.

With the fast pace of life and the fast-changing world we live in today, things have grown more complicated with each passing day and it will help if our cities have the attributes to remind the people of the need to “slow down” and the value of seeking personal renewal and rejuvenation.

Some quiet moments at the parks, art galleries, museums and libraries will do much good for the heart and soul. These are some of the facets of our capital city that have yet to be tapped and it should be showcased to the world.

When considering projects for the city, planners should not just be motivated by the dollars and cents of how much profit can be churned out from the projects but more importantly they should bring back life and add value to the city's living environment.

Despite its relatively “young age” compared with other older cities around the world, Klang Valley folks must have noticed that a number of sections around Kuala Lumpur have aged and grown quite dilapidated. They can actually do with some facelifts.

One of the most obvious examples are the squalid looking apartments and flats that badly needed a new coat of paint at the very least.

A good measure to prevent buildings from turning into slumps is to pass a legislation that requires property owners to upkeep and maintain the buildings' external facade and paint work at least once every five years so that they will not turn degraded and become eye-sores. Those who fail to do so will have to pick up the tab for the maintenance work that will be done on these buildings by the city councils.

That way we can ensure that the buildings in the capital city will be kept in relatively presentable shape and will be able to blend in with other newer developments coming up in the city.

Many of the old dilapidated buildings are high-rise municipal council flats that have been built many years ago and the residents are mostly tenants who do not have a vested interest in the upkeep of the property. In such a situation, the councils will have to uphold the responsibility of the building upkeep and maintenance.

Deputy news editor Angie Ng shares the hopes of Klang Valley folks for a more liveable environment and quality of living all round.

By The Star (by Angie Ng)

KL prime property market quarterly snapshot shows progress

Despite increasing economic uncertainties, Kuala Lumpur's prime property markets continued to perform well as 2011's momentum carried into 2012, albeit at a slower rate.


In the first quarter of this year, the high-end condominium stock increased to 21,214 units with the completion of 285 units in a Bangsar located project. The freehold development, designed for “young and aspiring urbanites,” has six types of unit layout with built-up areas ranging from 671 sq ft to 1,610 sq ft all of which have been sold.

The number of high-end launches slowed as developers focused on the more saleable mid-price range market. One high-end development, located in Ampang, was launched in the first quarter. With good demand from both owner occupiers and investors and early pre-launch marketing by the developer, the freehold development, comprising 500 units, has been almost fully sold. Activity in the high-end condominium market is, however, expected to slow this year, in line with more caution in the market. More developers are expected to adopt a wait and see attitude and many are expected to promote and market their products to gauge demand before officially launching them.

Demand in both the sale and leasing markets has been stronger for smaller units and we anticipate this trend will continue this year with developers building smaller more affordable' units, which cover a larger purchaser catchment. We also expect to see more developers delivering SOHOs (small office home office), SOVOs (small office versatile office) and SOFOs (small office flexible office) in the short term.

Generally, market prices and rental values remained stable and rental rates were steady and average net yields were in the range of 3.5% to 5%. We anticipate that market prices will consolidate this year and rentals will continue to face downwards pressure despite the relatively strong holding power of many investors.


Following the completion of two buildings, located in the city's Golden Triangle, the total existing supply of prime office space in Kuala Lumpur city increased by 1.1 million sq ft. The city centre's prime office market is expected to increase by 2.04 million sq ft this year with the delivery of four prime office buildings.

The average occupancy rate in KL city centre declined from 84.9% in the fourth quarter 2011 to 81.3% in first quarter this year as the newly completed offices were yet to register any physical occupation. However, one of the two was reported to be fully pre-committed. The office market in the city centre registered a net absorption of just below 190,000 sq ft and notable leasing activity was recorded within numerous prime buildings in the Golden Triangle.

In the first quarter this year, the average net rental reduced marginally as many landlords are still maintaining the same rental rates. Some, however, are now willing to offer attractive incentives such as longer rent free periods to attract prospective tenants.

With limited stock available in the market and steady demand from Malaysian investors, the investment market was relatively quiet and no major transactions were concluded.

We believe that if all buildings are delivered on time, the oversupply scenario will become more serious and with steady local demand, but slowing foreign demand, the occupancy rate in the city centre will decline. The lower occupancy rate will result in some landlords reducing their rental rate expectations in a tenant favourable market. Generally, market prices are expected to remain stable but assets with high occupancy rates and superior specifications within prime locations could register some capital appreciation.


Supply increased marginally, with the completion of the refurbishment and extension of one suburban, prime-retail centre, adding approximately 92,000 sq ft to the total stock and a further 1.4 million sq ft of prime space is expected to be completed by the end of the year in both the city centre and the suburbs.

The average occupancy rate declined marginally from 91.7% to 91%, predominantly due to retail centre owners and retailers undergoing refurbishments of their outlets. However, strong demand prevailed with the majority of the vacant space in new retail developments being pre-committed to by tenants.

Rental and market prices generally remained stable for the first quarter of this year with limited investment stock available. No en bloc transactions involving prime-retail centres were recorded. Investor interest, however, remained strong with a keen focus on prime-retail investment opportunities in either the city centre or the suburbs.

In the city centre, the average occupancy rate is forecast to increase over the next 12 months as retailers take physical occupancy upon completion of their fit-outs and renovations. In the suburbs, however, the market is expected to enter a temporary adjustment period where the occupancy rate is anticipated to reduce marginally as substantial supply will be completed during 2012.

We expect rental values to generally remain stable this year, but there is room for improvement in select prime retail centres in the city centre. Market prices are more likely to see an upside as interest from both local and foreign investors remains strong and many owners remain “unwilling” to sell at the prices most investors are prepared to pay.

David Jarnell, senior vice-president and head of research at Jones Lang Wootton, has over 25 years working experience in the property market and has been based in KL since 1996. This is an extract of a report released this week.

By The Star

Nilai stirs excitement for Sime Darby

Iluna has a modern architectural design featuring either vertical or horizontal elements. It is the first super-link house development in the Nilai Impian township.

GROWTH activity is spreading. And it is spreading fast into the region south of the Klang Valley Nilai.

As director of Henry Butcher Lim & Long Sdn Bhd Fahariah Abdul Wahab puts it: “While city-centric people may be quick to dismiss Nilai, the reality is that the area has been growing steadily.”

Whether one acknowledges it or not, there is value in Nilai.

Zulkifli: ‘We are looking at the community from around Nilai and Seremban, and employees at KLIA and Putrajaya as well as those from the civil service.’

While prices of landed property within the urban areas of Klang Valley have sky-rocketed, Nilai presents itself as a new place to seek comfortable home-living. And yes, we are talking landed properties here, not small condominiums.

Following the growth corridor's movement towards the south, developments going on at the fringes of Greater KL are picking up pace and Sime Darby Property's (SDP) Nilai Impian.

The township development began in 1997, steered by Negara Properties Bhd before it merged with the SDP group three years ago.

This development is sited on 1,263 acres freehold land, with 41% reserved for residential developments, 29% commercial and 33% industrial developments.

Currently, Nilai Impian is 50% completed with a population of about 5,000 residents. It can accommodate at least 7,000 more people.

The township is partially visible from the North-South Expressway and is accessible via major highways like Elite, SILK and Maju Expressway, PLUS Highway via the Nilai Interchange, KL International Airport (KLIA) Link Road and Kajang-Seremban Highway (LEKAS).

It is one of 10 townships SDP has under its belt and is about 15km away from KLIA and Putrajaya.

SDP head of property Zulkifli Tahmali is positive that things are getting exciting for the township of RM1.4bil gross development value.

He points out that Nilai Impian will be in the middle of mature developments and employment centres all around such as KLIA, Putrajaya, Cyberjaya and other townships.

Job opportunities would come from industrial developments like Bandar Baru Nilai, Nilai 3, Nilai Square, Nilai Industrial Area and Nilai 3 Industrial Area.

Among the education institutions peppered around Nilai Impian are Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia, Nilai University, INTI College, Murni Nursing College, Nilai International School and upcoming boarding school Epsom College.

“With the LEKAS highway providing better access, the area will only become more vibrant.This is the beginning to (what we believe will become a popular) area,” he says.

Zulkifli likens Nilai Impian's potential to SDP's Bukit Jelutong township in Shah Alam.

“When we started Bukit Jelutong, the Guthrie Corridor Expressway was not there. The access just goes to Bukit Jelutong and we had use other roads to get to other areas,,” he says.

Nilai Impian will be another Bukit Jelutong in years to come.

On why it took 15 years to bring some semblance to the township, Zulkifli says the company has initially focused on the industrial aspect of it.

“The project only accelerated three years ago when SDP merged with Negara Properties. Previously it was driven by the industrial estates around it,” he says.

Zulkifli says that the purchaser profile for Nilai Impian would be the people from around the area.

“People who are in the middle-income bracket are our target. We are looking at the community from around Nilai and Seremban, and employees at KLIA and Putrajaya as well as those from the civil service.”

The township is targeted at owner occupiers, rather than investors looking for capital gains. It will have landed houses, mostly terraces, and mid-rise apartments.

Zulkifli notes that there is demand for semi-detached houses and bungalows, which will be developed later on in Nilai Impian.

There are five projects launched in Nilai Impian so far Iluna, Davina 2 and 3, Medina and Impian Avenue, all of which had 75% take-up rate compared with the average 50% for areas like this.

“The prices (of the property) have not gone up much. Therefore, there are not much investor interest. But I think the area has great potential ,” he says, adding that SDP is the only developer working on a project of this scale in that vicinity.

On the big picture front, he says that the company will keep making investments in Nilai Impian even though projects in Klang Valley naturally have higher returns for the group.

“We need to develop this kind of places because these are our bread and butter projects,” he adds. “Even if the economy is bad, we're still be there because this is what people would need.

He says while SDP is better known as a high-end developer, “that is not all that we do”.

“We also do this bread and butter projects. We build these townships and put in the same effort into them as with the higher-end developments elsewhere,” he says, adding that about 70% of SDP's portfolio comprise these developments.

However slow the appreciation of the property value in Nilai may be, landed property prices in Nilai have grown from the range of RM250,000 to RM350,000 in 2009 to RM420,000 to RM430,000 now for units with built-ups of between 1,700 sq ft and 2,000 sq ft.

While he admits the prices of SDP projects may be slightly higher than other smaller developers, he says that SDP brings amenities to the townships it develops.

Among the infrastructures SDP will introduce to Nilai Impian is a highway interchange and other road system to ease accessibility, as well as utilities.

“If you're building a township like this, you have to fork out money to build the roads and drainage system. Then only will we look at the parcels of land to build the properties. We will also be enhancing whatever utilities that may already be there,” he says.

He adds that there will be a toll gate at the new interchange, within Nilai Impian itself, to enhance accessibility not only to the township but also surrounding areas like Bandar Bukit Raja and Bukit Mahkota, to name a few.

By The Star

Bina Puri to leverage on new businesses as construction cost rises

With construction business margins getting squeezed because of higher labour and raw material costs, Bina Puri Holdings Bhd group managing director Tan Sri Tee Hock Seng is seeking to add recurring income into the company portfolio and diversify its core operations.

He tells StarBizWeek that he would personally be steering the company towards more recurring income and new businesses, and would divert all his personal “kangtao” to Bina Puri. Tee, a true blood Hokkien, places emphasis on “kangtao” also known among the Chinese as “guanxi” and often described as the “bamboo network” of clan associations, guilds and chambers of commerce and industry.

In the spirit of diversifying, Tee first ventured into the power generation business when an acquaintance offered some power plants in Indonesia for Bina Puri to purchase and this has turned out to be fruitful.

“Margins generated by the power plants are very healthy and is currently generating about 40% of its revenue,” he says in an interview recently.

However, according to him, the venture was not smooth as there was a lot of red tape, but guidance from his acquaintances made all the difference.

The company acquired an 80% stake in Indonesia-based PT Megapower Makmur via Bina Puri Power Sdn Bhd, and spent close to US$5mil on the investment.

Bina Puri is going to add a 4.2 megawatt (MW) hydropower plant to its portfolio of power plants soon as discussions are already in their final stages and an announcement is expected once the power purchase agreement is signed between the parties in Indonesia.

The hydropower plant will complement the company's existing five diesel-powered plants that have a combined capacity of 10MW located in Pulau Bangka, Indonesia.

A miner of the 1970s, Tee is also looking at a coal mine located in Kalimantan, Indonesia, which predictably, Bina Puri is going in via a local partner familiar with the area.

“It would be a joint venture, and we will be engaging Chinese contractors for this mine, as they are well known for their mining expertise,” he says.

While Tee is setting the stage for the company to diversify, construction is still the company's forte and core business, and the company is targeting to commence work as early as October for its RM864mil Pakistan highway concession.

“Our team is currently working on the technical and financial aspect of the motorway, and financing is expected to be done via Chinese banks based in Pakistan,” he says.

Pakistan's National Highway Authority awarded the work to Bina Puri in January to convert the existing four-lane highway into a six-lane motorway on a built-operate-transfer basis for a concession period of 28 years.

“I would like the construction business to contribute 50% to revenue, property development to generate 30% and mining and recurring income to give the rest” he says.

He says if the mineral business goes well in the future, the company will scale down on its construction business.

“Margins for construction contracts are very low, and not only are we faced with rising building material prices, the industry is also suffering from labour shortages,” he says, adding that he prefers to venture into property development, which offers better profit margins.

While its property development division had been somewhat dormant for the past two years, the company has already brought forward plans worth RM1.5bil in gross development value.

“Although construction has been our bread and butter, we must leverage on our prominent brand name and change with the times,” Tee says.

By The Star

Cyberjaya developer to pump RM2.5bil

Mustapha says Cyberjaya has become a development hotspot.

PETALING JAYA: The master developer for Cyberjaya, Setia Haruman Sdn Bhd, is set to pump a whopping RM2.5bil over the next five years to develop four projects and construct additional infrastructure for the area.

Called Cyberjaya’s “new wave”, chairman Tan Sri Mustapha Kamal Abu Bakar said that the projects were namely CBD Perdana 3 & 5, APEX Residence and a proposed mixed residential development.

About RM2.1bil will be used to develop the projects, while RM400mil has been allocated for the construction of infrastructure such as roads and drains, water reservoir drainage systems, sewage treatment plants and fibre optic.

Setia Haruman is 75% owned by Emkay Group, with the balance held by UEM Land Bhd. It is entrusted with designing, planning and developing about 2,830ha in Cyberjaya.

Mustapha said Cyberjaya had become a development hotspot with many property developers seeing potential to cater to working adults and students in the area.

“Over the last three years, 16 major developers have acquired large tracts of land for residential, commercial and institutional developments. This has resulted in Cyberjaya experiencing a residential and commercial boom,” he said.

Setia Haruman chief operating officer Lao Chok Keang said the company expected to fund the projects with internal funds.

“We have a facility of about RM200mil, and the gross development value of the projects would be 20% to 30% higher than our investment,” he said.

Since 2009, other developers like Mah Sing, SP Setia, OSK and Glomac began buying large parcels of land in the area, and there now are 16 developers building their projects concurrently in Cyberjaya.

The ongoing and upcoming cumulative investments amount to about RM20.6bil and are projected to reach RM52.6bil by 2016.

Cyberjaya now has about 11.1 million sq ft of completed offices, 263 shops, 3,200 completed residential units, four schools, and five universities and colleges.

Setia Haruman projects completed office space would reach 18 million sq ft by 2016, along with 1,200 shops, 14,000 residential units, seven schools, and eight universities and colleges.

Owing to the current ongoing projects, the company expects the town’s population to double to 100,000 by 2016.

Many multinational companies like HSBC, Huawei, Dell and IBM, among others, call Cyberjaya their home, with offices and staff based in Malaysia to support their regional business presence.

By The Star

Cyberjaya developer's grand vision

The main developer of Cyberjaya, Setia Haruman Sdn Bhd, will invest RM2.5 billion over the next five years to develop four mixed residential projects here, which it dubbed "Intelligent City".

Its chairman Tan Sri Mustapha Kamal Abu Bakar said the projects - CBD Perdana 3 and 5, APEX Residence and a proposed mixed residential development - will be riding on the "new wave" development of Cyberjaya, slated to start from this year right up to 2016.

Setia Haruman has also set aside RM400 million to build infrastructure such as roads and drains, water reservoirs, drainage systems, sewage treatment plants and fibre optic lines to service and support the "new wave" development.

"The projects' gross development value is about 30 per cent more than the amount invested," Mustapha said during a media briefing here, yesterday.

He said over the last three years, 16 major developers had acquired large tracts of land in Cyberjaya for residential, commercial and institutional developments.

The other developers include UEM, OSK Group, Mah Sing and SP Setia.

This "new wave" is expected to double the population here to 100,000 from the present 54,000.

"Property prices have appreciated by 30 per cent over the last two years and early investors have enjoyed substantial gains.

"With the many developments being undertaken by various developers, we expect Cyberjaya to be transformed from a development hotspot into a vibrant city of the future," he said.

Currently, the ongoing and upcoming accumulative investments in Cyberjaya by 16 developers is about RM20.6 billion.

By Business Times

Glomac buying Dengkil land for RM66.8mil

PETALING JAYA: Glomac Bhd is buying 191.75 acres of agricultural land in Dengkil, Selangor, for RM66.8mil or RM8 per sq ft from Lee Chin Cheng Dengkil Oil Palm Plantations Sdn Bhd.

Glomac told Bursa Malaysia that it had plans for a mixed residential development for the land. The deal is subject to the Estate Land Board's approval for the transfer of the land.

By The Star