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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Encouraging debut for Focal Aims


Johor-based Focal Aims Holdings Bhd has achieved more than encouraging results with Saujana 0-Lot, its RM200-million maiden development in the Klang Valley. The company is better known as the developer of the 2,500-acre Kota Masai township, located 30km east of Johor Bahru.

Philip (seated) believes the prospects in Klang Valley are better. Seen here with him Shawn Yee, Focal Aim's group general manager

Focal Aims embarked on its first development outside Johor last year, after having secured a 25.9-acre freehold site off the Federal Highway for RM62 million two years ago. Saujana 0-Lot was soft-launched in October last year, and the developer says it is pleased with the market's response thus far. Of the 45 semi-detached units and three detached villas launched in the first phase, fewer than 10 units remain unsold today.
Focal Aims attributes the high-end, gated development's good performance to its competitive pricing and good location.

According to group executive director Philip Yee, the developer had toyed with the idea of entering the Klang Valley market two to three years ago. "There isn't much excitement in the Johor Baru property market. In the Klang Valley, however, prospects are better simply because the market is more dynamic and populated," he tells City & Country.

He adds that the group is actively scouting for land in the Klang Valley. However, it is only interested in small parcels for high-end projects. "Apart from the higher land cost in the Klang Valley, the turnaround time is also faster with smaller developments. But the land has to be in a choice and established location."

A show unit of a Saujana O-Lot semidee

Saujana 0-Lot
Saujana 0-Lot features semidees and detached villas built on elevated land. To be developed over five years in three phases, the project is among the first in the Klang Valley to boast the zero-lot concept. RB Land Holdings Bhd has also launched such a development, called 10 Baiduri, in nearby Subang Jaya.

When the Peremba Group wanted to dispose of a piece of land in 2005, Focal Aims saw its opportunity to enter the Klang Valley. "The site fitted our criteria — good location, small in size. It was just right for us to focus on our lifestyle concept," says Yee.

Being a new player in the Klang Valley, Focal Aims needed to capture the market's interest. "We wanted something unique and different to give us an edge. We came across the zero-lot concept in Australia and Singapore when we were there to check out the latest home designs. For conventional semidees and bungalows, the land setback is 10ft, but we are offering a 20ft setback, which makes the garden area wider. Hence, there is zero boundary or no connecting wall between the units," says Yee.

"While the land title is for a semidee, we are in fact offering buyers a bungalow for the price of a semidee. A standard semidee at Saujana 0-Lot costs only RM1.48 million (land area: 4,000 sq ft; built-up: 3,500 sq ft), which works out to only RM370 psf," he adds. Maintenance fee is not more than RM400 a month and the plan is to deliver the first batch of homes by September 2008.

Most of the buyers are locals who discovered Saujana 0-Lot through the billboards and balloons present near the site. After the completion of two show units at the end of July, the developer raised the price of the remaining units by RM100,000. But this did not hurt sales as over 10 units were sold.

The developer is in the midst of obtaining the final approval for plans to launch 48 units (38 semidees and 10 detached villas) in the second phase by 1Q2008. While the size of the homes in this phase remains the same, the developer plans to change their exterior. Prices in the second phase may start from RM1.8 million.

About the developer
The main shareholders of Focal Aims are Peremba Group's Tan Sri Mohd Razali Abdul Rahman, the Pang brothers — Pang Choo Ing and Pang Yon Tin — and the Yee brothers — Philip Yee and Yee Oy Chong (Focal Aims' group managing director).

The Peremba Group's other projects includes Saujana Resort. Long-time friends and business partners, the Pang and Yee brothers have worked together for more than 20 years. While the Pangs were primarily in construction, the Yees were in the logging and saw-milling business. When they decided to strike out into property development, the brothers roped in mutual associate Mohd Razali to set up Focal Aims in 1994.

On why they decided to venture into the property business, Yee says property sentiment in Johor was positive in the 1990s. "As we had the relevant experience, we decided to team up. At the time [in 1994], the Johor government was planning to construct a coastal road to link Johor Baru to Pasir Gudang. With an existing education institution there, the Kota Masai site is also near the Tanjung Langsat industrial area, which incidentally falls under the Iskandar Development Region," explains Yee.

Recognising the potential in the Kota Masai site, Focal Aims purchased it for RM180 million. Its next challenge was to gain the market's confidence and populate the township.

"We started off with regulated housing and although these were in the low and low-medium-cost category, we built 2-storey terraced houses and the response was good," says Yee. After that came the medium-cost terraced houses and semidees priced from RM100,000. Building the regulated homes first proved to be the right decision. "As it incurs holding cost, most developers build regulated housing towards the tail end of a project. But it was an opportune time for us as the houses were completed before the Asian financial crisis. So, we were not badly affected by the crisis," Yee adds.

It was during the financial crisis that Focal Aims was presented with a golden opportunity. "A manufacturing company listed on the Second Board of Bursa Malaysia, Sandar Industries Bhd, ran into trouble and we were invited to be the white knight. We seized the opportunity and in 2001, Sandar Industries was transferred to the Main Board and eventually, Focal Aims became a listed company," Yee explains.

Kota Masai
Launched in 1995, the RM3-billion Kota Masai will boast over 25,000 properties in 10 phases when completed. The 25-year development comprises mostly residential units (92%), and to date, the developer has completed more than 14,000 properties, generating sales of over RM1 billion. Kota Masai has a population of about 70,000.

According to the developer, it is left with 1,200 acres to build another 11,000 properties. This will keep it busy for the next 10 to 15 years. The township will also feature a 400-acre golf course, a 45-acre commercial square, an 80-acre educational institute and a hotel.

Kota Masai lies adjacent to Johor Corp's Tanjung Langsat and the Pasir Gudang port. Other projects nearby include Sime UEP's Taman Pasir Putih, Redez Properties' Bandar Bistari Perdana, Scientex' Taman Scientex, Malaysia Pacific Land's Nusa Damai and Mah Sing's Sierra Perdana.

Current launches at Kota Masai include 1-storey (18ft by 65ft; RM95,000) and 2-storey (16ft by 55ft; around RM93,000) homes.

Yee reveals that the developer tested the market with the launch of high-end products of more than 60 units of 2-storey semidees priced at around RM280,000 within a gated precinct two years ago.

"It took more than a year to sell all the units; if these had been our normal terraced houses, they would have been sold within two months. Our high-end range took longer to be accepted by the market," admits Yee, adding that Focal Aims will launch products that match market preference and only when there is demand at Kota Masai.

Yee says it used to launch more than 1,000 properties annually. "But the size of our launches has scaled down to between 300 and 500 units, due to the increase in supply. Although Johor has the highest overhang in the country, this is not an issue for us because of our affordable pricing," he says, adding that their annual stock usually takes 12 months to clear.

He also says Focal Aims is not affected by the entry of big players from the Klang Valley into the Johor property market. He explains: "Even before S P Setia and Mah Sing made their appearance here, there was already competition from the other Johor developers. As Kota Masai is an affordable township with landed properties, our target market is different from that of the others."

Sterling Performance


"Sterling" and "excellent" are some of the words property players are using to describe the Malaysian condominium market for the first nine months of this year. Property consultants and developers say in the Klang Valley, these strata living properties, particularly the high-end offerings, are receiving a lot of interest from prospective buyers — both local and foreign — thanks to a favourable investment climate.

Y Y Lau, CEO of YY Property Solutions (in association with Cushman and Wakefield) says the condo market in 2007 is showing an improvement over the previous year. She adds that there has been a lot of market activity in this segment and sales have been recorded at prices surpassing the previous record levels.

"The performance has been sterling," says Zerin Properties assistant head of agency Terence Yap. "We've seen prices increased by about 15% to 30% in selected developments," he says, adding that many developments recorded impressive sales following the scrapping of the real property gains tax (RPGT) in April. Generally, the buoyancy is attributed to the increase in affluence in the population, scarcity of good quality locations and products in the market and a strong liquidity in the market, he says.

The fact that high-end condos in prime locations are attracting foreign interest — from Singapore, Indonesia, South Korea, the Middle East, Australia and the UK — has given the market a shot in the arm, says Lau.

Yap adds that foreign investors are viewing Malaysia as an attractive proposition for real estate investment, thanks to investment-friendly government policies and fiscal actions. Property consultants and developers say the Malaysia My Second Home programme and the government's move to ease foreign ownership regulations have spurred buying interest. In December last year, the government removed a rule requiring foreigners to seek the Foreign Investment Committee's approval before buying housing units costing above RM250,000.

These incentives, coupled with the attractiveness of the Malaysian property market compared to its neighbours, bode well for upmarket developments. Besides local purchasers, they are also attracting foreign buyers from Singapore, Indonesia, Australia and the UK.

According to a developer, the response from offshore investors is not surprising, pointing out that in terms of the product offering, its condos are on par with what's being offered in Singapore or Dubai but is more competitively priced.

Besides the government initiatives, Yap says the Malaysian condo market is also reaping the spillover benefits of a vibrant Singapore economy and property market. "Singaporean property players and funds are increasingly looking at Malaysia as a great opportunity for expansion," he says. Foreign interest is also driving prices upwards. "Prior to the announcement of the RPGT waiver, the average price in KLCC is about RM650 to RM700 psf. Since the announcement and with the growing attractiveness of Malaysia, large groups of foreign investors, individuals or groups, have shifted full gear to invest in the Malaysian market, particularly the condo market. In effect, the price of KLCC condos is now at about an average of RM1,000 psf," he adds.

When discussing prime property locations, the KLCC address remains a top pick, and is favourite among foreign investors (who make up 30% of the buyers). Other prime addresses are Jalan U Thant, KL's Golden Triangle (excluding KLCC), Bangsar, Mont'Kiara, KL Sentral and Damansara Heights. Yap says the market in Petaling Jaya may have an appetite for high-end condos, "but there are no products at the moment".

In terms of supply, government data puts the existing stock of condos in KL and Selangor at 113,716 and 137,919 units, respectively, at the close of 1Q2007. The National Property Information Centre (Napic) also puts the volume of condo units under construction in 1Q2007 at 25,332 and 52,334 units, respectively, for KL and Selangor.

Trends in condo developments
For a condo project to be successful, location and product offerings are vital, property players say. This also means design development and innovative finishes are the key. Property consultants say developers appear to be putting in a lot of thought and creativity in the design, layout and quality finishes. Lau says these efforts have paid off for some developers, pointing out that upmarket condos boasting generous built-ups are reporting encouraging take-up rates. She adds that serviced residences are doing equally well.

As developers try to outdo each other to attract increasingly discerning prospective buyers, property consultants say tie-ups with renowned brand names will be more common. Yap cites co-branding efforts with premium brands like The Four Seasons as an example.

"I think the green element is also in now. People are getting more environmental conscious," says Yap. Increasingly, he says condo living, coupled with inner city living, is seen as a modern lifestyle. "Highrise living is now seen as a way of life and is a norm."

Yap thinks that strategic marketing, particularly the developer's ability to communicate its product clearly to the target market, is another ingredient. He says property maintenance and management play an important role in determining the long-term success of the project. "Upon completion, proper property management and maintenance will differentiate the men from the boys," he adds.

What's ahead
Going forward, the mood is generally one of optimism. However, Lau says while the condo segment will continue to shine in the short term, there may be oversupply, especially in KLCC.

Concurring with Lau, Yap says: "I think there will be a short-term oversupply of condos in KLCC, probably in the early 2008 as most of the developments [currently under construction] will be completed at about the same time." Zerin Properties estimates that as at Sept 10, there were 4,812 condo units and serviced residences being offered in the KLCC address (completed as well as under construction).

Nonetheless, he doesn't believe that there will be an adverse impact on the market nor will the oversupply last long. "It will not last long, given our investment-friendly policy and the scarcity of land in the KLCC vicinity," he says.

Mont'Kiara — have prices peaked?


"Mosquitoes and monkeys," laughs Datuk Alan Tong as he recalls the early days of Mont'Kiara. The group chairman of Bukit Kiara Properties Sdn Bhd (BKP) is the person behind Mont'Kiara's first condominium project in the early 1990s. Running Sunrise before it was listed on the then Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (now Bursa Malaysia), Tong remembers launching Mont'Kiara Pines at an average of RM220 psf.

Today, condos in the highly successful address of Mont'Kiara can easily command prices above RM700 psf. The latest launch by Sunrise Bhd, 11@Mont'Kiara, has a RM727 psf onwards price tag, setting a new benchmark for condos there.

Sunrise's managing director, Datuk Michael Yam, says it is amazing that for the past 10 years, Sunrise properties have enjoyed yields as high as 12%.

Tong says this is one of the reasons people are still buying despite concerns that the area is getting overcrowded. A high expatriate presence in Mont'Kiara is another factor pushing up prices there, he adds.

Currently, there is a large Japanese community (about 900) and over 50 other nationalities living there. Tong feels the pull factors for many expats are the environment and atmosphere that Mont'Kiara offers. At the moment, there are three international schools there — Garden International School, Mont'Kiara International School and French International School. Apart from this, many more amenities are coming up in adjacent Sri Hartamas, Tong says.

"It's a feeling of the more the merrier, which in turn offers residents a wider choice of amenities. I also feel that many projects here are well planned, offering residents the option to enjoy themselves indoors in the privacy of their units or outdoors in the open spaces and recreational areas that are beautifully landscaped," he adds.

Landscaping is strongly emphasised in all three of BKP's projects, which are: Aman Kiara, a stratified landed development; Hijauan Kiara, a low-density condo; and the serviced residence, Verve Suites. The first tower called Viva is 90% sold without the benefit of advertisements while the recent launch of the second tower, Vibe, achieved 65% sales within two months of its preview.

Take-up rates have been equally good for Sunrise. Even before 11@Mont'Kiara's private preview two months ago, 50% of its units had been reserved, mainly from the developer's repeat buyers. Yam says these people know the value of their investment. Historically, Sunrise's properties have recorded capital appreciation of up to 60% and rental yields of between 8% and 12%.

Comparing yields worldwide, Yam says cities like London are enjoying a property boom but yields are 1% to 2% below the borrowing rate, while emerging cities like Shanghai are garnering even higher yields than Mont'Kiara.
"Where yields match current lending rates, it is a good time to buy," says Yam, adding that he's surprised that more people are not buying into Mont'Kiara right now.

But how long can the market sustain itself? Is there any more upside to Mont'Kiara? Will prices keep climbing or have they reached their peak? These questions and other pertinent issues will be addressed by Tong and Yam at The Edge Investment Forum on Real Estate 2007 on Oct 27. See below for details.


Date: 27'October 2007 (Saturday)
Location: Eastin Hotel, Petaling Jaya
Exclusive for readers of THE EDGE, Register now for your FREE seats - First come, first served basis, call (03) 7787 9800

Speaker at the Forum
Allan Soo
, managing director, Regroup Associated Sdn Bhd, on "Local and regional residential property markets"

Ang Kok Heng, chief investment officer, Philip Capital Management Sdn Bhd, on "Wealth creation - equities or real estate?"

Ho Chin Soon, director, Ho Chin Soon Research, on "Property hot spots: IDR; NCER or Klang Valley? Where in Klang Valley?"

Datuk Alan Tong, group chairman, Bukit Kiara Properties Sdn Bhd, and Datuk Michael Yam, managing director, Sunrise Bhd, on "A real estate success story - Mont' Kiara: A developer's perspective"

Panel Discussion:
Is Malaysian real estate underpriced ?
Datuk Richard Fong, International Real Estate Federation (Fiabci) president; group executive vice-chairman, Glomac Bhd
Lai Voon Hon, president & CEO, Ireka Development Management
Previndran Singhe, CEO, Zerin Properties
Kumar Tharmalingam, secretary-general, Fiabci Asia Pacific

Global Economic Outlook: As safe as houses?


As safe as houses?
The English phrase "as safe as houses" seems ironic in the US today. American house prices are falling — the S&P Case Shiller Index showed a 3.9% fall in July. The house is the most important asset that a typical US family will ever own, and its value is sinking.

Investors are now worried about the housing market "contagion", that US house price declines will trigger falls in property values elsewhere in the world.

Fortunately for property owners, housing is not like other assets. Selling the family home in fear that prices will fall is not practical, if one does not have another place to live. Cultural attitudes to property ownership also create significant differences in national markets. Problems for US housing (caused by oversupply) should not impact other markets. However, there are two areas where housing has been globally driven.

The first global trend has been rising house price-to-income ratios. Any mortgage lender is interested in the ability of the borrower to repay the debt. This is judged by comparing monthly debt costs (known as debt service) with the borrower's income. If the lender knows what a "safe" ratio is, it can then calculate the amount of money the borrower can "afford" to borrow.

In the 1990s, global interest rates started to fall. Interest rates averaging 15% or more at the start of the 1990s (in Spain for instance) have been replaced by rates of 5% or less in recent years. As global interest rates fell, debt service costs fell. Thus, borrowers could increase their debt, but keep the same debt service cost they had under high interest rates.

If everyone can borrow more money, it does not mean that everyone can buy a bigger house. It means house prices rise. If average mortgage levels rise from three to four times average income, average house prices will move in sympathy (from three to four times average income).

As long as property buyers realise this, all is well. However, if house buyers become greedy (or think that house prices could continuously rise relative to incomes), bubbles develop. As the US demonstrates, bubbles will burst.

The second global trend has been the rise of "global cities", like London. High-value London property is divorced from the UK economy. Property is bought by Middle Eastern or Russian investors (who tend not to worry what the Bank of England is doing with interest rates). Wealthy financial market professionals (whose compensation depends on the movements of global financial markets rather than local factors) also have significant influence.

Last year, 65% of all £1million plus property sales in London were acquired by non-British investors. This adds a global distortion to a local market, and means that some cities have more in common with each other than they do with their local economies.

Malaysia's residential property market did not experience the same buoyancy as the US market prior to the current bust. In December 2006, average house prices were 37% (19% after adjusting for consumer price inflation) above the low reached in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis, well below the scale of increase recorded in the US. Thus, the "bursting of a bubble" has to be much less of a concern. Moreover, while the property market would suffer if the economy slowed, government policy should lend support. The reduction in stamp duty for houses below RM250,000 in Budget 2008, the abolition of the Real Property Gains Tax in April and the potential use of Employees Provident Fund money to make monthly house payments are all positives for the Malaysian residential property market.

Although housing markets have had common global drivers in recent years, this does not mean that the US housing slump will be repeated elsewhere. There are enough global problems to worry about, as US consumption slows and credit markets exhibit volatility. Adding a global housing slump to the list of world economic problems seems unnecessary.

Paul Donovan is the deputy head of global economics at UBS Investment Bank. The co-author for this article is Edward Teather, who is the executive director of equities research at UBS.

Meeting student housing needs in Subang

By theSun

The large student population in the vicinity of Subang Jaya's SS15 has created a strong demand for housing. In fact, the shortage of accommodation at the moment is acute, say Isaac Ng, principal of KP Harta. According to Ng, students from other states and those from countries like Indonesia, China and the Middle East make up a population of about 10,000.

An artist's impression of Menara Rajawali

The numbers have convinced Link Ventures Sdn Bhd to put up its first project, called Menara Rajawali, a serviced apartment with two floors of retail right in the middle of SS15's commercial and education hub. The project consists of studio units, 2-bedroom units, and 3-bedroom units with built ups ranging from 396 sq ft to 1,301 sq ft, priced between RM180,000 and RM420,00. The developer is targeting to sell the units to medium and long term investors and lease back from them for a period of five years.

"In return, the developer guarantees rental returns of a minimum 6% perannum based on the selling price," say Ng, whose agency is the exclusive marketing agent for Menara Rajawali.

Link Ventures decided on serviced apartments for students after taking into account the numerous colleges in the vicinity, including Taylor's Colleges Subang Jaya, Taylor's Business School, INTI College Subang Jaya and Metropolitan College. On top of that, Sunway College, Segi College, Monash University and the Sri KL private school are also minutes away from the development.

The developer acquired the half acre leasehold tract located at SS15/8 Subang Jaya early last year and will officially launch the project today. Since its soft launch in July, 60% of the 196 uits have been taken up. The project has a gross development value of RM 50 million and will be completed by end 2009.

Ng says the units will be 80% furnished and the building features state-of-the-art security with alarms, smart card system, CCTV and intercoms. "Menara Rajawali will be equipped with centralised broadband, which translates to free wireless Internet access for all residents."

He added that there is a high potential of the property appreciating, with a forecast of 5% growth per year, in the strategic Subang Jaya location.

When completed, Menara Rajawali will comprise 14 floors of serviced apartments, a multi purpose floor, a utility floor, two floor of commercial shops, six floors of elevated car parks and a basement car park.

Amenities within the locality include banks, restaurants, fast food eateries, and food courts, while medical centres and hotels are just minutes away. The development is also surrounded by several major shopping malls, such as Subang Parade, Sunway Pyramid and Summit USJ. The project is accessible via the North Pantai Expressway (NPE), Damansara Puchong Highway (LDP), Federal Highway and Kesas Highway.

Housing developers squeezed at both ends

By New Straits Times

THE Sarawak housing industry is in a crisis, of sorts.

The top end of the market has remained soft for some time, and housing developers, big and small, are all now competing ferociously for the mass market of housing units in the price range of RM200,000 and below.

If developers are burdened by government social policy to provide houses to low-income buyers, then the costs will be borne by buyers of other categories of houses which will be pegged at higher prices.

To add to the woes of developers, the cost of building materials is skyrocketing while the government insists on holding in check what developers can charge for low- and medium-cost houses.

Utility providers are also insisting on increasing their charges for connecting electricity, water and telecommunications services to newly-developed housing estates.

It is all very well for state Minister of Housing Datuk Seri Abang Johari Tun Openg to stress affordability of housing to buyers. But nobody can defy the forces of economics.
If affordability is the be-all and end-all, many small developers in the state, who are already greatly squeezed by the prevailing economic conditions, may soon simply fold from the inability to pass on higher costs to buyers.

It will be in the state’s long-term interest to help hard-pressed developers not go under now, as that would impact future supply of housing to the market and end up with the state facing exactly the situation it wants to avoid: a scarcity of new housing units jacking up prices, particularly in the secondary housing market.

The state government will clearly have to do more than merely ask housing developers to hold on to current prices for houses in the face of a strong spurt in building costs. It can intervene to force down the prices of building materials, for example, by liberalising the supply of cement and steel. Opening the market to imports of these materials may have to be considered if local suppliers cannot meet demand at reasonable prices.

The best policy, as always, will be to let free and open market forces dictate supply and demand — and hence prices — all along the housing industry supply chain.

It is nonsensical to insist on keeping imports out when faced with a situation where supplies of basic building materials are short and dear.

The state government also has an odd policy of enforcing corporate social responsibility on housing developers which, in effect, means buyers of middle to high-end houses are indirectly subsidising low-cost house buyers.

This policy takes the shape of having rules that require housing developers to also build a certain percentage of low-cost houses. Housing developers are in the business to make profits, which the government will also tax.

If developers are burdened by government social policy to provide houses to low-income buyers, clearly the costs will be borne by buyers of other categories of houses, which will be pegged at higher prices than if developers were not saddled with socialised housing requirements that rightly should be the responsibility of governments, funded through tax receipts or the sale of state land at market prices.

There is another area where the government can easily assist an industry on the ropes. The project approval process in the state is notorious for being slow. The state authorities will argue that this is in the best interest of ensuring building projects meet overall planning requirements.

Meeting planning requirements can be speeded up if project proponents are let in on long-term master plans for towns and cities in the state.

As things stand, lengthy approval times can only mean one thing: added costs as developers have to calibrate lengthy holding costs. This again flies in the face of the oft-repeated cherished dream of the government: ensuring affordable housing for all buyers.

Housing developers are currently in the most unenviable position of being squeezed at both ends in Sarawak. The housing market at the profitable end is shrinking, while the government insists developers hold steady on prices for the low-cost units they are required to build in the face of rising costs.

Dream Home by the sea

By New Straits Times

WATERFRONT properties along Penang island and Seberang Prai are becoming more coveted as economic development spurs demand for housing and commercial assets.

Although there have been seaside homes and holiday bungalows dotting the island, notably in a northeast district, for a long time, these have been few and far between as property developers have tended to build either on hill slopes or its fringes, or in prime areas in the centre of town.

These developments have sometimes raised concerns ranging from environmental degradation to traffic congestion.

But a new trend has emerged in recent years, with seaside properties seen as a viable investment option by foreign and local retirees. There are also those who have been inspired by their travels abroad into owning a home by the sea.

In the past five years, the island is seeing its fair share of waterfront developments, including a seafront master-planned project, the Seri Tanjung Pinang (STP), by E&O Property Development Bhd.

The STP project, which involves creating several man-made islands, is being touted to emerge as a “pin identifying Penang island on the international map”.

The 392ha seaside estate, which sits to the immediate north of the popular Gurney Drive in George Town, is modelled after the Dubai Waterfront project in the Middle East.

It has attracted buyers from the UK and other European countries as well as the US, its developers said.

Recent developments include the Queensbay project in Bayan Lepas, on the southwestern end of the island, which is undertaken by the Kuala Lumpur-based CP Group.

Also in the area is the Bayan Mutiara project by Penang Development Corp.

Bayan Mutiara, covering 40ha (with another 20ha earmarked for reclamation), will have high-end and affordable homes, schools, a mosque and a government administrative complex, including the state legislative assembly building.

It is also sited within the Penang Multimedia Super Corridor.

The project is expected to encompass four precints. The state administration complex will include the assembly building, offices for elected Penang representatives and the office of the Chief Minister.

According to E&O Property Development marketing and sales director K.C. Chong, the STP development will feature a headland and multi-island concept.

“Currently, at the headland, we have completed reclamation works for Phase One of 96ha, which will introduce landscaped parks and seafront promenades set amid a guarded community of luxury seafront villas, semi-detached and courtyard terrace homes, condominium and service apartments.

“There will also be commercial and retail precincts surrounding a vibrant pleasure marina offering exciting food and beverage outlets, shops, entertainment and sporting facilities,” Chong said.

The second phase of 286ha will include a cluster of islands linked by a series of bridges to the first phase.

Phase One of STP will take the next five to six years to complete. The company plans to grow its landbank under Phase Two, which will take 12 to 15 years to complete.

Reclamation works under Phase One have been completed.

“We endeavour to attract the international community to Seri Tanjung Pinang, whether to stay, invest or for a holiday,” Chong added.

“In that, we have been working with well-known international architects to create a master plan that is unique, distinctive and can emulate the successes of well-known seafront developments in the region.”

STP is said to have attracted interest, and its developers believe that the second phase will appeal to the international community.

“In terms of joint-venture partners, we have partnered credible names from Singapore as well as the Middle East,” said Chong.

Meanwhile, the mixed development Queensbay township sits on 29.2ha and commands a strategic view of the Penang Bridge and Pulau Jerejak.

The freehold project is accessible via major roads like the Bayan Lepas and Jelutong expressways, and is also part of the Penang Multimedia Super Corridor.

With the construction of the Second Penang Bridge linking Batu Maung on the island to Batu Kawan in Seberang Prai, Queensbay is set to be sandwiched between two bridges linking the island and mainland.

LIM: Queensbay will eventually emerge into a
new shopping and commercial precinct for the
island in a well-planned and self-sustained

“Now that we have completed the Queensbay Mall (and plans are in place to expand it via the addition of a second wing), we are setting our sights on creating an alternative ‘central business district’ for Penang here at Queensbay,” CP Land chief executive officer Tony Lim said.

On the drawing board are 86 exclusive waterfront villas and a RM200 million Queens Wharf comprising a public marina, retail and food and beverage outlets along with office suites and a promenade.

“We are also planning a Queens City development, which will be sited on 6.4ha,” Lim added.

The RM1 billion project is expected to begin construction by 2008 and to be completed in four years.

Among other developments, it will have a 400-room, five-star hotel with a ballroom that can fit in 2,000 people.

The self-contained city will also have furnished serviced residences, four blocks of office suites as well as more food and beverage and retail outlets.

A stone’s throw away, the Bayan Mutiara seafront integrated property project will mark Penang Development Corp’s entry as a premier housing developer.

The corporation, since 1969, has been a major player in formulating Penang’s development policies and made a name for itself in transforming the state into an electronics powerhouse.

It has also been instrumental in developing satellite townships like Bayan Baru, Seberang Jaya and Batu Kawan in the state.

“Our waterfront landed properties at Bayan Mutiara, totalling 168 units, will be built on 11.16ha of seafronting land,” PDC Properties Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Osman Kallahan said.

The first phase of the waterfront homes will comprise 70 superlink homes and 43 bungalows, while the second phase will see the construction of 55 bungalows, he added.

“Upon completion of the project, we expect to achieve a gross development value of RM179.4 million,” said Osman.

On how the STP will raise the bar in seaside living in Penang, Chong said:

“This master-planned development will stimulate new growth, energy and focus to Penang’s seafront as Palm Jumeirah and Sentosa Cove have done for Dubai and Singapore respectively.

“It will emerge as a symbol of pride and progress for Penang island — gaining worldwide publicity and prestige, attracting capital inflows and investment, employment and business opportunities, especially for Penang tourism.”

AP Land seeks sites for high-yield developments

PROPERTY firm Asia Pacific Land Bhd (AP Land) said it plans to focus on high-yield property development projects in the Klang Valley and overseas, especially China. This is due to the good take-up rate of its myHabitat high-end development in Kuala Lumpur.

"We are looking for suitable sites in Malaysia and overseas, especially China, where things are progressing. It is in the planning now but nothing is firmed," executive director Hoi Siew Choo told reporters at a briefing on its myHabitat serviced residence project in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Hoi said the myHabitat project, which consists of twin blocks of 32-storey premier serviced apartments sprawled over 1.5 acres, is progressing well and will be completed by end 2009.

The total gross development value for the project has improved to about RM330 million from RM220 million, at the time when Tower 1 was launched in mid-2005, she said.

"Some 86 per cent of Tower 1 has been taken up. We hope to launch Tower 2 by December and we are confident the units will be well taken up within the first 12 months of its launch," Hoi said.

MyHabitat is situated adjacent to City Square Centre, comprising Empire Tower, Crown Princess Kuala Lumpur and City Square Shopping Centre, she said, adding that Tower 1 had attracted foreign direct investments from the UK, India, South Korea, Hong Kong and participants of Malaysia, My Second Home.


Date: 26 to 28th October 2007
Location: Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC)
Organiser: REHDA
Time: 10am - 8pm
Contact no: 03-7880 8000

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MAPEX 2007
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New source of income for Atrium

By The Star

PETALING JAYA: Atrium REIT is expected to pocket net income of RM98,000 a year from its first industrial building, which translates into a net property yield of 7.7%, Aseambankers said in a report.

The proposed RM125mil acquisition of a building at Senai Industrial Park in Johor from Yong Jin Development Sdn Bhd was also expected to increase Atrium's dividend yield by 0.33%, it said yesterday.

Aseambankers said the building would boost Atrium's net lettable area (NLA) by 15.5% to 934,173 sq ft, bringing it closer to achieving its targeted one million sq ft in NLA by year-end.

The leasehold property, with NLA of 125,173 sq ft, is currently leased to Flextronics Technology (M) Sdn Bhd for RM1.2mil annually, or an annual gross yield of about 9.6%

Flextronics' five-year tenancy expires at end-2011 and it has the option to renew for a further five years.

Assuming the deal will be financed entirely by borrowings at an interest cost of 4.4%, analyst C. T. Ong forecasts Atrium's net profit for the financial year ending Dec 31, 2008 to rise by 4.1%.

He said the acquisition price was fair at RM100 per sq ft, noting that a similar acquisition by Axis REIT in Johor at RM109 per sq ft had an estimated net property yield above 8%.

Pending more guidance from Atrium's management, the research house is maintaining its forecasts and reiterated its “buy” call on the counter with a target price of RM1.28.