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Saturday, September 27, 2008

PJ8 stands out impressively

Fronting the Federal Highway, PJ8 is highly visible. The project comprises a serviced suite block and three blocks of offices.

As one cruises along the Federal Highway towards PJ Hilton, an iconic structure rises high above the horizon. Known as PJ8, the project lies smack opposite the five-star hotel fronting the highway.

Cycle and Carriage office marketing Mercedes Benz used to occupy part of the site. PJ8 in Section 8 Petaling Jaya, undertaken by IJM Properties Sdn Bhd, comprises a 38-storey block of service suites, a 12-storey office suite block and two blocks of office tower with a gross development value of RM250mil.

The 4-acre IJM project is prominent by any standard and its completion is expected to give the main PJ a lift. It will help to rejuvenate what used to be a thriving PJ New Town but now perceived by many to be a little tired.

At 38 storeys, the service suite block may well be the tallest. It comes with three blocks of offices.

Its completion and eventual occupation will set new benchmarks, in more ways than one, sources say.

For a long while, much of the attention has been focused on Bandar Utama and Mutiara Damansara,

While there have been pockets of change and redevelopment in other parts of PJ, much of these have been drowned by the hype and activities in the new townships in PJ North simply because of the malls in that area.

The status quo is expected to remain. Nevertheless, PJ8 will add some sparkle amidst the current gloom in the sector.

Says Jones Lang Wootton executive director Malathi Thevendran: “Multinational corporations (IT, media, professionals, finance & banking, airlines), oil and gas companies, embassies and offices of foreign governments will prefer a Kuala Lumpur location.

“Those that are service-orientated €“ marketing, advertising, support services, data centres, backroom offices €“ will prefer PJ. Historically, the demand has been for smaller, cheaper office space which resulted in the development of shop offices.

“Today, we are seeing the move towards quality corporate office towers,” she says.

The PJ makeover started several years ago as new residential areas took shape and the spending power of its population grew.

Old factories were done away with and replaced by a new commercial landmark.

As families upgrade and move to better housing, the older established residential areas began to take on a rather exhausted facade. Time for change!

The old and the new

Be it food and beverage outlets, retail or services, the demand of the PJ population have grown by leaps and bounds as its middle class ballooned.

Other growth areas around PJ that Malathi likes include Mutiara Damansara, Bandar Utama and Damansara Perdana.

“There are an abundance of amenities there. It is close to the highway network and offers a big residential catchment. The upcoming LRT will boost its popularity.”

Mutiara Damansara, says Malathi, has an edge over Bandar Utama and Damansara Perdana, as it is one of the best and systematically planned commercial and residential enclave in Petaling Jaya.

The other areas she likes is Section 13, with its cauldron of commercial activities. But the local council will have to monitor accessibility and traffic in the years to come as more high rise commercial developments in the pipeline are completed.

Jerome Hong, managing director I (agency & corporate services) of PA International Property Consultants (KL) Sdn Bhd says the eventual occupation of PJ8 will increase the number of office workers and residents travelling in and out of its immediate area. Traffic congestion may be an issue.

Hong says although the developer has created several access roads into PJ8 from the flyover off Federal Highway and from Jalan Barat, the local council should address the traffic issue in this area as it is one of the main arterial roads leading to the main PJ centre.

“There will need to be better traffic management for the long term,” he says.

Hong says its location and access is second to none. It is close to all forms of public transport and other public amenities. It is also more visible, he says.

Between PJ8 and Malton Bhd’s VSQ, another commercial project across the Federal Highway near the Tun Hussein Eye Hospital, Hong prefers PJ8.

“VSQ is not so accessible in terms of road network or public amenities. The large multinational companies will also prefer floor plates in excess of 10,000 sq ft,” he says. While PJ8 is a mixed development comprising offices, retail outlets and serviced suites, VSQ offers only office facilities and a bit of food and beverage.

PJ8’s serviced suites are more than 80% sold, with the remaining units now selling at an average of RM500 per sq ft compared to RM350 psf in its early days, says S K Brothers Realty (M) Sdn Bhd general manager Chan Ai Cheng.

It has only one office suite left. IJM recently sold Tower C in PJ8 en bloc for about RM600 psf, setting a new benchmark. Its offices suites were tagged at RM430 psf when it was first launched.

Chan says most developments will take time to occupy. In this case, its visibility and accessibility will quicken the process. Jaya33 is in the region of RM3.50 psf to RM4 psf.

3 Two Square offices in the region of RM2.30 psf to RM3.50 psf.

“We can expect PJ8 to fetch rentals in the region of RM4.50 psf,” says Chan.

By The Star (by Thean Lee Cheng)

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