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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Demands of new township

By The Star

I&P’s GM knows how to cater to the high expectations

There's no doubting it; the country's property sector has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few decades. Back in the old days, one of life's basic necessities was to have a roof over our heads.

Noor Lida: It is important for a developer to adapt to the changing needs of the community

As progress and modernisation swept across the country, buyers' needs changed and so the demands on property developers became more exacting. People wanted more, but they wanted it at affordable prices.

These days, lifestyle aspects are paramount. Buyers now don't mind paying more to enjoy things like speedy access, more space indoors and outdoors as well as security features and amenities, all within a stone's throw from their front doors.

One person who has seen, and quite frankly, had a hand in that transformation is Noor Lida Nazri, Island & Peninsular Bhd's (I&P) group marketing and communication general manager. I&P is the country's largest developer by landbank. It owns 14,000 acres (5,600ha), most of which is the Klang Valley.

Some of its more prominent townships include Bandar Kinrara and Taman Setiawangsa.

She assumed her current role two years ago although her career in this industry began just after she graduated from what was then Mara Technology Institute.

“I graduated with an advanced diploma in valuation. Initially, I was clueless about what the course was all about. But my first job at CH Williams in Kuantan gave me exposure to the property market,” she says.

Part of the job meant going to out-of-town places to value pieces of land and old hotels with no building plans. “I had a bone-shaker of a car in those days and what I would set out with was the title deed. With just that, I had to figure out which piece of land to measure.

“The tape measures used then was also the old-fashioned type, which I would have to anchor down with a heavy object to keep in place,” she recalls with a laugh.

Still, CH Williams proved to be an excellent training ground and it exposed her to the real estate market so that she was prepared to take on a bigger role when she joined I&P in 1990.

“I was approached to identify land bank for the group to purchase. Five years later, I moved on to SPPK or Syarikat Perumahan Pegawai Kerajaan, where I stayed for 10 years. It was there that I learnt the other aspects of the property market like doing marketing in the real sense and analysing plans to see if the projects are viable,” Noor Lida says.

Indeed, she was part of the team that initiated the Alam Damai township project in Cheras. The idea there was to replicate SPPK's success with Bukit Damansara in Cheras.

“It is there that I came to appreciate the dynamics of pricing and the importance of considering all the needs of the residents in order to create a successful township. Price is, of course, an important consideration but if you can convince buyers that your product is worth the money, then they will be willing to pay more to own it,” Noor Lida explains.

Citing an example, she says golf courses were all the rage when SPPK was developing its Alam Damai project.

“We wanted to have some recreational facilities for the residents but we thought that if you put in a course, not all the residents would be able to appreciate it and benefit from it so we turned the area into a park instead,” she explains.

When SPPK became a subsidiary of I&P, Noor Lida was asked to head the group's marketing and communication division.

“At I&P, our focus is on township developments so when we plan our projects, we put careful thought into creating an atmosphere that is uplifting and which will inspire the residents as they go about their daily routines. We want it to be a place they will look forward to coming home to. It is important for a developer to adapt to the changing needs of the community,” she says.

The group is gearing up for the launch of its Alam Sari township in Bangi this Thursday. “Most people think of Bangi as a centre for education, so we have themed the project as the Neighbourhood of Academia. I&P's hope is that this will raise the profile of Bangi.”

I&P has been around for about four decades. In that time, the company was listed and later de-listed earlier this year. The developer is one of the more prominent ones in the country as it has built a name as a reputable developer.

“The important thing is that the company has always delivered on its promise. That has enabled us to focus on our projects because our track record speaks volumes about our credibility,” Noor Lida comments.

On a personal level, she says she gets immense satisfaction from knowing that she plays a part in bringing communities together by providing space to help them grow.

“Not many people stop to actually think about it this way but its nice to look at the area now, like in the case of Alam Damai, and see how the community has grown and the area has matured,” she adds.

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