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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ken to develop high-rise project in Bangsar

Ken Holdings Bhd has set its sights on going really upscale with its entry into the Bangsar area. Executive director Sam C S Tan is putting a lot of effort into what he calls a gem of a site of less than an acre in Jalan Kapas where Ken Bangsar will be located.

This will be the group's first high-end high-rise project and an initial foray into the much sought-after location.

An artist impression of the lounge area of Ken Bangsar

His previous project was Ken III, in SS2, which is sandwiched between some low-cost apartments. The difference between both projects, in terms of price point and location, underscores the broad range of projects that Ken Holdings Bhd is undertaking.

Ken III's average price when it was first launched was below RM200 per sq ft. Ken Bangsar averages around RM1,000 psf. It is yet to be launched but is already 65% sold today.

Says Tan: “We do not focus on high end or low end projects. We do developments with a broad price range. Whatever it may be, we will deliver a good product. Our policy is at whatever price point, we sell below market price and give the buyer something above market price. We will build our reputation this way.”

The Ken Bangsar

Having set the standard with Ken Damansara II, which is located along the same road as Ken I and Ken III, in SS2, Petaling Jaya, Tan considers the company an old hen in Petaling Jaya.

“We have built a name for ourselves in Petaling Jaya. Going to Bangsar is something new for us so it is natural that we are putting a lot of effort into Ken Bangsar,” says Tan.

By going to that location, Tan and his father, who is managing director of Ken Holdings, are moving into the tuft of major players, the likes of BRDB and Eng Lian Enterprise Sdn Bhd, the initial developers of Bangsar.

“Going there will give us an opportunity to do something different. We do not want to be a follower. We want to be the trend setter.”

Ken Bangsar will be located on a cul-de-sac at one of the highest parts of Bangsar. The two condominiums closest to it are Ara View and Desa Bangsar Ria. There are other high-rise projects developments along Jalan Kapas but most of them have been around for a decade or more. This means Ken Bangsar will be the newest serviced apartment along that road.

There have been concerns that other high-rise in the vicinity will block its view. This is valid to a certain degree. Hence, the eight floor and above have been snapped up.

Besides selling the terrain and location, Tan is also marketing the design of the block. Some of the 2,600 sq ft units come adjacent to studio units. Although this combination come with two separate titles, it is possible to inter-connect the two and some of their buyers, says Tan, plan to do that.

“Buyers who buy the big unit together with the smaller one either plan to rent out the 1+1 or have their parents next door,” says Tan.

Sited on less than 1 acre, there are 80 over units. He plans to hand over the keys by the end of next year, which is fast considering the fact that they began selling the units the first half of this year. Each unit will have two car parks and four for the penthouse. Maintenance will be between 40 sen to 50 sen psf.

“We are able to deliver early because we completed half the structure before selling began. Buyers want to see something before they put their money down. We wanted to build confidence as well. The structure is completed until the 10th floor. It will have a total of 15 storeys, giving us ample time with the finishes and interiors,” says Tan.

Tan: We want to be a trend setter

He says the company has upgraded a lot of things even as they went along, although more than half of the units are already sold.

“I am giving even better finishes because I want to build my long term reputation. When people bought Ken Damansara II, it was averaging RM197 psf, today it is RM300 psf, beyond what we expected. We could have maximised our profit, but this will not build trust with consumers and we wanted the goodwill,” he says.

Most of the units range from about 2,000 sq ft to 2,700 sq ft. There are four triplex super penthouses, between 6,800 sq ft and 8,500 sq ft, that come with their own private swimming pool.

The price for penthouses ranges between RM6.5mil and RM8mil. Although the RM1,000 psf tag is not a benchmark price, it is the residence's location at the “peak” of a hill in affluent Bangsar that will add value to the place, says Tan.

Those who want to invest in this location really do not have much choice at the moment. BRDB’s upscale freehold 229-unit condominium development is more than 80% sold. The size of available units ranges from 3,200sq ft to 8,000sq ft, averaging RM950 psf. This is located behind Bangsar Shopping Centre, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.

The other project in Bangsar is Zehn Bukit Pantai, which some consider a better location as it is located on a quieter and less congested part of Bangsar, as opposed to Ken Bangsar’s site. It is next to the Pantai Hospital, which can be a boon or a bane, depending on how one looks at the neighbour. Although it is located on a main road, that part of Bukit Pantai is relatively quiet and less congested as most of the houses there are bungalows.

The second block of Zehn Bukit Pantai was launched about three months ago. There are about 20 units left of the 184-unit development. The sizes available are between 3,000 and 3,300 sq ft with average selling price of between RM600 and RM650 psf.

Zehn is a joint venture between Pantai Holdings Bhd as landowner and Juta Asia, formerly known as Dataran Kiara Sdn Bhd, as developer. The project is in collaboration with CapitaLand Financial Ltd, the Malaysian arm of Singapore's largest listed property player, CapitaLand. The developer decided to rope in CapitaLand, given its expertise and reputation for delivering high-quality, high-end properties.

Zehn’s second block was sold at an average price of RM650 psf, which is about half of Ken Bangsar. Zehn is leasehold. Ken Bangsar is on freehold commercial title.

For the sake of comparison, Benetton Properties Sdn Bhd launched Bangsar Peak at the end of last year. That freehold development comprises 39 units on slightly over an acre, half the density of Ken Bangsar and the price was about RM600 psf.

By The Star (By Thean Lee Cheng)

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