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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Penang goes posh

E&O launches seaside bungalows

FOR centuries, Penang has attracted traders, seafarers and adventurers from far and wide. Today, the island is no less popular, being one of Malaysia’s front-runners in the real estate investment market after Kuala Lumpur. It is against this backdrop of sun and surf, and city living that E&O Property Development Bhd is building the largest waterfront project there.

The company laid the foundation for the Seri Tanjung Pinang community by first selling double-storey terrace and semi-detached housing. It recently took things a notch higher by launching bungalows in three designs.

Known as Skye, Abrezza and Martinique, the bungalows are set apart from other landed developments taking place on the island because of several factors.

The first is the overall ambience. Each home design draws inspiration from the different elements around the world that make living a pleasure.

Although the look, feel and design vary, a single thread binds them and the buyers who take to them – the desire for the finer things in life.

Those who have visited the show village and the show houses would probably agree that Martinique is the most spectacular of the three.

It blends classic lines with the best of materials like nyatoh balustrades, Italian marble flooring and Burmese teak.

Fronting the Straits of Malacca and enveloped by a meandering waterfront promenade, Martinique is a double-storey white sprawling mansion reminiscent of the white and beige plantation manors of the Caribbean Islands.

Much thought has gone into interior decor to give ideas and options to potential buyers. There are several living areas, depending on the purpose and degree of formality of the occasion.

The guest pavilion on one wing offers breathtaking views that sweep into the lawn, sea-front promenade and the azure blue sea. Your guest will not want to leave after this by-the-sea experience.

Depending on the land size, which varies between 11,000 and 13,000 sq ft, Martinique (built-up: 9,000sq ft) begins from RM6.7mil. There are 12 units of Martinique, of which four have been opened for sale. Of these, two have been sold.

Martinique, one of three designs of waterfront bungalows with pool fronting the Straits of Malacca by E&O Property Development in Seri Tanjung Pinang.

Abrezza is named after the sea breeze that winds through the halls and corridors of this triple-storey bungalow.

Elegant yet modern, with a whiff of British opulence, it offers great contrast in terms of colours and details.

There is a clearer definition of private and public spaces, family corners and visitor’s enclave. The developer has dressed up the show units with a lot of dark feature walls, door and window frames and balustrades to add colour and contrast.

No less exciting is the Skye series. Natural light from large windows, high ceilings and skylight give rise to its name. This collection is popular with young families.

Both Skye and Abrezza have built-ups exceeding 5,000sq ft and are priced from RM2.6mil onwards. Abrezza has six plus one rooms while Skye, five plus one. So it is really an offering that considers the needs of several generations, with luxurious ground floor rooms and pantries for higher floors.

E&O marketing and sales director K C Chong says the company is setting a new benchmark for lifestyle living on the island.

About 80% of Seri Tanjung buyers are from Penang, Ipoh, Sungai Petani and Kuala Lumpur.

For some of them, the houses in Seri Tanjung will be their holiday homes. The remaining 20% are foreigners, mostly Westerners.

Says Chong: “Penang is very popular with the expatriate community and those who are in the Malaysia My Second Home programme.”

He says the 240-acre phase one will keep the company busy for the next three to five years.

The second phase comprises two islands, which the company will reclaim from the sea and will be connected to the first phase.

“Because Penang is an island, land is scarce. And with burgeoning demand, it is only natural that prices move up,” he adds.

It is this scarcity of land and the growing popularity of Penang among foreigners, and local and foreign investors, that several developers other than E&O have gone into land reclamation. Among them are IJM Corp Bhd, Penang Development Corp and C P Land Sdn Bhd.

Says Chong: “The land component is different between Penang and Kuala Lumpur. Comparing a guarded development here and another in Kuala Lumpur, the land cost would be higher in Penang.

“At the end of the day, it is this single component that drives up our house prices.”

Cruising along Jalan Tanjung Tokong, which leads to Seri Tanjung, you can see the development that straddles the sun and surf of Batu Feringghi at one end and the city at the other.

When completed, it will be the newest address to join the international list of world-class waterfront communities including The Palms in Dubai, Australia’s Sovereign Islands and Sentosa Cove in Singapore.

Keys to its terraced housing were handed over to buyers in the first quarter of last year. Its first series of chic and elegant terraced houses set tongues wagging when it was launched at the end of 2005 at RM735,000, an unheard-of figure then for double-storey housing on the island.

In the secondary market today, intermediate units are going for about RM800,000 and corner units in the RM1mil region.

There are altogether about 260 units of terraced housing, 215 units of semi-detached, 48 plots of vacant bungalow land (all have been sold) and 73 units of bungalows, comprising Skye, Abrezza and Martinique.

The first phase of the master-planned development will also have 160 units of serviced suites facing a marina and seven condominium blocks.

The marina will be ready in 2009. Land reclamation works for its second phase will begin in three years.

Says Michael Geh, director of property consultancy at Raine & Home International Zaki + Partners: “In many ways, E&O has achieved new benchmark in terms of pricing, architecture and design. The company is giving us modern designs with a very cosmopolitan feel.

“We are seeing other developers following suit. SP Setia has started lush courtyard garden terraces, IJM is giving us Nautilas Bay by-the-sea terraces.

“Other developers must follow this new trend in Penang terraces if they are to keep up. Lifestyle and community housing is here to stay.”

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By The Star (by Thean Lee Cheng)

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