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Monday, February 4, 2008

KLCC magnet for local and foreign investors

The Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) enclave is emerging as an international real estate destination with growing local and foreign interest to develop and invest in residential and commercial properties.

The Petronas Twin Towers and the surrounding 50-acre central park have been “magnets” in attracting real estate investors and developers.

Interest in the KLCC area started in early 2000 after the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) set out to make Kuala Lumpur a world-class city and to promote inner city living in line with the KL Structure Plan 2020.

Medium-density high quality residential developments were designated in areas around the KLCC, Jalan Yap Kwan Seng, Bukit Ceylon, Jalan Inai/Imbi and Jalan Stonor/Conlay.

The early launches in the KLCC area included the Stonor Park, Marc Service Residence, Dua Residency and Binjai Residency.

In the last few years, these apartments, which were sold for between RM500 and RM700 per sq ft (psf), have recorded price appreciation of between 70% and 120%.

The interest in high-end luxury residences within the KLCC enclave is driven by the changing lifestyle and the strong appeal of inner city living.

Previndran Singhe

According to Zerin Properties chief executive officer Previndran Singhe, owning a property in the KLCC area has become a status symbol for the affluent and a dream for many people.

“Malaysians are moving to the city in recent years similar to the trend in Hong Kong and Singapore a decade ago. Living in the inner city has become a choice for a growing group of people who are opting for a change in their lifestyle and the conveniences offered by city living,” Previndran said.

Besides the many amenities from shopping complexes to eateries, the worsening traffic woes in the city make walking home from work fun and time-saving.

A growing expatriate community, including diplomats and professionals from the information technology, oil and gas, and banking industries, is also opting for the KLCC address.

Their high rental budget has pushed rental rates in the surrounding residences from RM3 psf previously to RM8 psf now.

Industry observers said properties in the KLCC vicinity, including residences and office blocks, were changing hands at prices that were once thought not possible in Kuala Lumpur.

Over the years, prices of residential properties in the KLCC area have recorded strong capital appreciation, and market observers are confident that prices would continue to reach new heights as land become a scarce commodity in the KLCC area.

Zerin Properties assistant head of agency Terence Yap said KLCC properties were being traded like commodities rather than investment assets and prices had skyrocketed in the past year.

Terence Yap

Abbey Woods Sdn Bhd chairman and managing director Datuk Wong Choon Kee said the strong outlook for the KLCC market would continue, given the country's political stability, strong economic fundamentals, and the investment friendly environment, to promote greater foreign participation in real estate.

“The exemption of real property gains tax last April is a welcome start to get Malaysia on the radar screen of investors. Kuala Lumpur properties are still relatively cheaper compared to other Asian cities and there is strong upside potential,” Wong said.

“With prices breaking RM2,000 psf and fresh frontiers in luxurious living being opened with each new project, the possibility is there for residences in the KLCC enclave to be on par with world renowned residential enclaves such as the Hyde Park in London and the Central Park in New York.

“We are now looking at new levels, some new launches touching RM3,000 psf this year,” Previndran said.

Riding on the wave of the KLCC craze, Zerin Properties has recently launched a dedicated KLCC portal,, to cater to the needs of those wanting to enjoy the vibrancy of KLCC living. So far, more than 55,000 hits with about RM4mil worth of transactions have been recorded.

By The Star (Stories by Angie Ng, Fintan Ng and Shannen Wong)

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