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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Regenerating Petaling Jaya

Jaya One leads the way for lifestyle changes in PJ

SOON to become a prominent landmark fronting Jalan Universiti, Petaling Jaya, Jaya One will be among one of the larger development in Section 13, says developer Tetap Tiara Sdn Bhd.

Its executive director Charles Wong says Section 13 is expected to have among the first run of new commercial projects under the “ongoing regeneration of Petaling Jaya”.

Jaya One covers 11 acres of Section 13’s 200 acres.

The other areas that will be undergoing various changes include SS2, Kelana Jaya, and Section 52, commonly known as PJ New Town.

(There are plans to convert some of the industrial pockets into commercial title by the local authorities.)

“The term 'regeneration' encompasses a host of changes. This include a change in the buildings in the area, a change in identity from industrial to commercial, for example, all of which boils down to a change in lifestyle for the people in that area,” Wong says.

Wong says Section 13 comprises 200 acres and Jaya One will occupy just over 11 acres of it. The first phase is now complete and is expected to be fully tenanted by the middle of this year.

Another new development in Section 13 is Jaya33. Close by is 3 2 Square, located in Section 19. A couple of factory lots are undergoing development, to be replaced by office buildings.

“So changes are afoot along Jalan Semangat, which divides Section 13 and Section 14. Jaya Supermarket will be pulled down and something better will come up. All these are part of the regeneration process,” says Wong.

Wong is following the footsteps of his father, L&H Property Development Sdn Bhd executive chairman Wong Chee Kooi. L&H is the main shareholder of Tetap Tiara.

Says Wong senior: “I used to see the Alcom and Colgate factory coming up in the area in the late 1950s and early 1960. At that time, I was working for a consultant and used to come around to see the place. Now my son is developing Jaya One. This is certainly exciting. It says a lot about the growth in this once quiet satellite town of Petaling Jaya.”

Section 13, in terms of land value, is undervalued. Once converted to commercial land, its value will up very quickly, says Wong.

Wong says the other industrialised area is the Jalan Tandang vicinity. Although earmarked as industrial land, Section 13 is expected to be converted to commercial land. Right now, this is being done on an ad hoc basis as factories move out and land owners find uses for their land.

“It is natural for land owners to maximise the value of their land and we see this happening around us,” says Wong senior.

Jaya 33 Sdn Bhd, for example, will be converting the adjacent land into a high-rise block, comprising either office units or service apartments while Tetap Tiara has a second piece of land of about 3.8 acres, behind Jaya One, which it will mull over later on.

“Section 13, in terms of land value, is undervalued. Once converted to commercial land, its value will up very quickly,” Wong says.

When Jaya One was first launched several years ago, its standard office lots were sold for RM220 per sq ft.

They are transacting for about RM350 psf today while the ground floor shop lots were launched at about RM750 psf.

Buyers of ground floor shop lots had to buy the first two floors of offices as well. Now investors are letting go of the office units.

“Nobody wants to sell the ground floor shop lots so it is not possible to compare how much they can fetch today,” says Wong senior.

He says about 40% bought for their own use while 60% were investors.

Tetap Tiara is keeping the centre portion, known as Palm Square. This comprises a cluster of eight two-storey developments, a theatre, and an annex block. They are also managing the car park. They will maintain the place until a committee has been set up.

“What is crucial for Jaya One is the retail mix and maintenance so we will watch this closely,” says Wong.

About three-quarters of the nett built-up of about 400,000 sq ft comprises offices and the rest retail. About 90% of the retail portion will be food and beverage (F&B) outlets.

“Because our frontage faces Jalan Universiti, two colleges have shown interest. This is a change of plans for us, but we view this positively. We had initially wanted showrooms to face Jalan University. A foreign bank has also shown interest. So our plans are changing. The F&B side is going according as planned. So there are positive surprises,” says Wong.

The retail offices are being rented out at between RM2.30 and RM2.50 psf for the standard lots of 1,800 sq ft. Corner units are going for RM3 psf. Jaya33 prices are higher at around RM4 psf. Their floor plate is also larger, between 5,000 q ft to 10,000 q ft, with a certain degree of flexibility to go right up to 20,000 q ft.

Section 19’s 3 2 Square office lots are less than 2,000 sq ft.

Wong cautioned it is not possible to benchmark Jaya One against any other development because there is none similar to it.

“Not on this scale, at least, because 11 acres is a huge development, once phase 2 is complete,” he says.

While developers are happy with the changes in development in the area, Petaling Jaya residents are concerned with the congestion that is taking place around them. Their concerns include parking woes, bumper-to-bumper traffic during peak and certain off-peak periods, and the lack of improvement in public transport within Petaling Jaya.

Complaints to the local authorities have increased but even as these new developments spring up, residents continue to demand a hearing.

But when a building is up and tenanted, what else is there to hear, or to be said? There is a greater force - monetary gains - at work and growth comes at the expense of something else. In this case, the quiet and tranquillity of a satellite town and her residents.

By The Star (by Thean Lee Cheng)

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