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Monday, March 24, 2008

Abbey Woods focuses on KLCC

VETERAN property marketing guru and developer, Datuk Wong Choon Kee, who recently left Sunway City Bhd after more than seven years helming the company, is still raring to shape the property landscape of Kuala Lumpur and other major cities around the world.

“Property is my life – I live and breathe property,” enthused Wong during a recent interview with StarBiz. A strong believer of real estate in the KL City Centre (KLCC) area, Wong's outfit, Abbey Woods Sdn Bhd is teaming up with a few strong financial partners to develop high-end residential and commercial projects in the well sought after address.

“We believe that any property built in the KLCC area will be marketable and tradable. Properties built here have to be high-end branded products with quality finishes and iconic designed facade.” he said.

Datuk Wong Choon Kee

On his plans for Abbey Woods, Wong said: “It is important to always create a vision and then ignite your organization to make this vision a reality. I love exerting energy competitive spirit to get my team passionate about what they are doing that they cannot wait to execute the project.”

“I hope I am able to share my experiences and the little expertise that I have with the younger generation of developers and builders in Malaysia. To move ahead, one would have to be in-tune with the latest technology and information.” he added.

He pointed out that branding was the business buzz in property development today.

In the robust city of Vancouver, Abbey Woods will be teaming up with foreign fund partners to develop quality and high-end property projects.

The first project will be a 30-storey condominium tower comprising of 180 condominiums, ranging in sizes from 850 to 2,200 sq ft.

Construction is expected to commence within six months, once planning approvals are obtained. Selling prices are not yet confirmed, but expected to be in the region of RM4,000 per sq ft.

“The strong and sophisticated property market in Vancouver has attracted substantial investors' interest from all parts of the world.

High-end residential properties are going for between RM6,000 and RM8,000 per sq ft. The commercial market also holds much potential,” Wong said.

He also has plans for some quality residential projects in Singapore to establish a strong brand in the regional market.

How does he keep up with the industry? Wong said: “I love attending property launches, both locally and internationally. It is through these launches that I learn about the competitions we are facing and the ever changing trends – what is in and what is not.

“I must say that my years with the corporate sector were indeed fulfilling and inspiring as I got to work and learn from great visionaries. Everyday was a learning experience – gaining more skills and knowledge on the know-how's of the business. Their management and leadership skills had empowered and sparked others, leading the pack to achieve goals and vision.”

Wong co-founded property consultancy firm CH Williams, Talhar & Wong in 1973 and remained the firm's managing director until 1989.

His exposure in Canada was between 1989 and 1996 when he was the president and chief executive officer of Abbey Woods Development Ltd, a property company listed on the Toronto and Vancouver stock exchanges.

In late 1996, he was back in Malaysia to join Genting Bhd as executive vice-president before moving on in 2000 to become the senior managing director of Sunway City Bhd.

As part of the SunCity team, Wong listed three projects that he took pride in – Sunway South Quay, Kiara Hills and Palazzio “where the epitome of fine living makes both architectural aesthetics second to none amidst a lushly landscaped setting.

“Many savvy homebuyers are seeking for innovative residences set in natural surroundings. It has been said that a high quality life is often associated with a natural milieu in the simplest form – light, views and free flow of fresh air.

“Through our projects, we had gone beyond the norm to build wholesome innovative homes; beyond the expectations of homebuyers.

“Besides an exclusive address, the iconic development sits on an extensive natural, tropical landscaping, and uses natural materials laced with modern tropical designs,” he said.

With Wong's dynamic capacity for new property ideas and work, one can expect more property deals to come in the near future.

By The Star (by Angie Ng)

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