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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

KK promises an eco-friendly waterfront project

Over the last few decades the narrow shoreline of the once serene coastal town of Kota Kinabalu (KK) has changed.

What KK was, in the 1950s or 1960s, is now almost unrecognisable to those who grew up close to it.

It has rapidly changed its face over the last three decades with most of the city centre built on reclaimed land.

Impressive real estate: An artist’s impression of the Kota Kinabalu waterfront.

Today, Kota Kinabalu City Hall is striving to strike a balance in preserving its old environment, while pushing for development to make the city a world-class leisure and tourism spot, in line with the objectives of the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC).

This rainforest city of over 300,000 people will play the leading role as the gateway to Sabah, which aims to be one of the most liveable places in Asia.

For city planners it is also crucial that the city is ready to impress and help the state woo some RM105bil in development projects for investments under the SDC’s 18-year overall economic development plan.

Environmentalist, however, are worried about pushing Kota Kinabalu's shoreline further into the sea as they believe further changes would bring irreparable consequences to city’s very own treasure.

Their concern is on the proposed Kota Kinabalu waterfront project that offers to transform Kota Kinabalu into an integrated mixed development along a section of the Kota Kinabalu town’s coastline.

The Kota Kinabalu City Waterfront, expected to be completed by 2010, will feature the key attraction of a 2km long boardwalk, built using eco-friendly materials rising above the sea on stilts.

Waterfront Urban Development Sdn Bhd (WUD) is carrying out the entire project in collaboration with Kota Kinabalu City (DBKK).

The project is among those identified under the SDC that aims to make Sabah a major destination for both leisure and business tourism and has also caught the attention of Kuwait Finance House (Malaysia) Bhd (KFHMB) and a consortium of Middle Eastern and Malaysian investors.

At the launch of the SDC, a tripartite agreement was signed between WUD, KFH and Intonasi Intan Sdn Bhd witnessed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

WUD managing director Reymee Mohamed Hussein said the development would incorporate environmentally friendly features like hi-tech LED lighting, energy conserving air conditioning systems and solar powered pedestrian lighting along the boardwalk.

Reymee, together with Geoffrey P.J. Lee, conceptualised the Kota Kinabalu City Waterfront development masterplan with DBKK.

He gave the assurance that there would be no reclamation work.

“It is primarily to increase the role of a coastal city like Kota Kinabalu to become a catalystfor the modernisation and development in Sabah,” said Reymee, adding that the RM500mil project was conceptualised after studying several thriving world class international waterfront attractions like Darling Harbour (Australia), Cape Town Waterfront (South Africa), Victoria Harbour (Hong Kong), Canary Wharf (London) and Clark Quay Riverside (Singapore).

The development will also spur economic growth for Kota Kinabalu and provide employment and new business opportunities to local residents and businesses.

“Kota Kinabalu City Waterfront will feature one of the longest city waterfront boardwalks in Asia and is poised to become the city’s prime tourist attraction. It will be an integral part of Sabah’s hospitality industry,” Reymee said.

Sabah Environment Protection Association president Datuk Sue Jayasuriya said there was a need to ensure that any development did not turn the rainforest city into a concrete jungle.

By The Star

Properties to get boost from growth region

The East Coast Economic Region (ECER) can boost the property sector and property prices in the long term, industry experts and real estate consultants say.

"It's a long term game and the higher impact would be on industrial development in buildings and land for industrial," Henry Butcher Malaysia's property research director Fahariah Abdul Wahab said.

It is learnt that Kuantan can sustain another 150,000sq m of retail space, Kota Baru some 110,000 sq m and Kuala Terengganu some 135,000 sq m.

Fahariah said although the ECER hold about 14.8 per cent of Malaysia's population, it only recorded up to 9.1 per cent of residential, 6.5 per cent of commercial and 8.3 per cent of industrial property transaction in the country in 2006.

In terms of value, the residential sector in ECER only constituted 4.2 per cent of the national total.

"The ECER has the capability to create the needed mass and demand to propel property development in the region," Fahariah said.

She said if all ECER's initiatives are implemented smoothly, it would also give an advantage to the tourism industry and prospects for new hotel and resorts in the region.

"There are a lot of players interested in investing in hotels in the region.

"I believe before investing they will be looking at land prices and viability, because in terms of hotels, the region still lacks good quality hotels on the mainland where you need five to six star hotels to attract foreign and business tourists," she said.

Meanwhile, Ho Chin Soon Research Sdn Bhd director Ho Chin Soon said even though he sees some constraints in land sales and the impact skewed towards the oil and gas and agriculture sectors, the ECER will have positive spillover effects to property prices and property development activity in the region.

DPZ Asia's urban design consultant Kamal Ariffin Zahrain said he believes there is good development potential for the region as ECER's masterplan is structured to take full advantage of it.

"We see good viability as the master plan is well integrated and flexible enough to allow new ideas and changes to be made in future," he said.

By New Straits Times (by Azlan Abu Bakar)

Faber plans six launches worth RM340 million

KUALA LUMPUR: Faber Group Bhd is planning six launches for this year, with a gross development value of RM340 million.

This includes three phases in its Laman Rimbunan project in Kepong, semidees and bungalows in Taman Danau Desa on Jalan Klang Lama and a high-end development known as Taman Hill Top Perdana in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, said its managing director Adnan Mohammad.

“We are confident our coming launches in Kepong and Taman Danau Desa will be well received, following strong take-up of our earlier projects there. The first two phases in Laman Rimbunan has achieved takeups of more than 95% while we have also successfully handed over our Danau Villa project in March last year,” he said. Danau Villa is a RM54.6 million development in Taman Danau Desa consisting of 64 units of 3-storey link semi-dees priced between RM712,000 and RM1.1 million.

Adnan was speaking after the group’s EGM recently to seek shareholders’ approval for the disposal of Sheraton Hanoi Hotel. Faber is discontinuing its hotel business as part of a restructuring exercise and focusing on its core businesses of property development as well as healthcare and non-healthcare facilities management.

In Laman Rimbunan, Faber will be launching terraced houses, semi-dees, and medium-cost apartments. The terraces, priced from RM560,000, have built-ups of 3,033 sq ft onwards, while the semi-dees, with built-ups ranging from 3,700 sq ft to 4,800 sq ft, are priced from RM1.1 million.

The apartments averaging 850 sq ft are priced at RM120,000 onwards. The 100.81- acre project is a joint venture with Metro Kajang Bhd.

The group also plans to offer high-end homes, including semi-dees and bungalows, on a 5.6-acre tract in Taman Danau Desa with prices from RM1.4 million for the semidees and from RM2.8 million for the bungalows. The built-ups range from 3,800 sq ft to 4,000 sq ft for the semi-dees, while the bungalows are sized between 4,454 sq ft and 8,203 sq ft. Adjacent to the area, on 2.8 acres of land, Faber will also be launching luxury condominiums priced from RM370,000, with
built-ups from 1,285 sq ft.

Faber property division senior general manager Khalid Abdul Majid said there is a ready market for hig-end developments as people living in the area are becoming more affluent and looking to upgrade. “Our target market for our new project in Taman Danau Desa includes those from the middle to upper income group,” he told theSun.

The targeted launch is in the second quarter of this year. “The new project in Taman Danau Desa is a proposed gated and guarded development and its location next to the Desa Lake is another draw for purchasers,” he added.

He noted that properties in the area have also experienced good capital appreciation.

“A unit in Danau Villa that was originally priced at RM700,000 was recently transacted at RM1 million,” he said.

Meanwhile, Taman Hill Top Perdana will comprise semi-dees and bungalows with built-ups ranging between 2,973 sq ft and 7,090 sq ft. The units have an average price of RM910,000 each.

Adnan said Faber would continue to search for land with potential in strategic locations The company currently has about 70 acres of undeveloped land in Kepong, Taman Danau Desa and Sabah.

“Our priority will be in the Klang Valley, though we will not be limiting ourselves as we will also consider pocket-sized land with potential for niche developments.

“Our preference is to go for joint ventures with other property developers or landowners due to the lower capital outlay, but we will not discount making outright purchases of the land if the price is reasonable,” he said.

By theSun (by Yap Yew Jin)

More cross-border REITs on the horizon

PETALING JAYA: More cross-border, joint venture real estate investment trusts (REITs) are expected this year, following heightened interest from foreign investors, said Datuk Mohamed Azahari Mohamed Kamil (pix), managing director of AmanahRaya-JMF Asset Management Sdn Bhd (manager of AmanahRaya REIT).

“There is Middle East interest to list their properties through REITs in Malaysia and Singapore,” he said, adding that the average yield of 7% and 4.9% for REITs in Malaysia and Singapore, respectively, are considered attractive to investors who seek long-term investments with stable returns in the real estate sector.

He was speaking as a panelist at the recent REIT Review Asia 2008 conference in Singapore.
Other key speakers included ParkwayLife REIT CEO Justine Wingrove and Peter Churchouse, the property director of LIM Advisors Hong Kong.

According to Mohamed Azahari, Singapore and Malaysia currently dominate the South East Asia REIT markets with a total market capitalisation of about US$22 billion (RM72 billion), and this is expected to increase consistently with more investors considering REITs for their portfolio.

“With the recent sub-prime mortage and banking crisis, there will be opportunities for asset managers to conduct portfolio rebalancing and we believe that REITs will continue to be preferred in view of their defensive risk profiles,” he said.

He added that liquidity is still the main consideration for investors and REIT managers’ continuous efforts to grow the funds and improve yields are helping to attract investors.

“The credibility of the sponsors who are able to identify properties in the pipeline for future acquisition by REITs also generates further interest among investors,” he said.

AmanahRaya REIT is the second largest REIT in Malaysia, with assets of RM645.52 million. It recently collaborated with Gapuraprima Group, an Indonesian developer listed on the Jakarta Stock Exchange, and aims to list a regional REIT in Singapore this year.

By theSun (by Yap Yew Jin)

Education town in Bandar Springhill

West Synergy Sdn Bhd, a 60-40 joint venture between MUI Properties Bhd and Chin Teck Plantations Bhd, has teamed up with UCSI Education Sdn Bhd to establish an education township at its Bandar Springhill development in Negri Sembilan.

UCSI vice-chancellor and president Peter T.S. Ng said the cost is still being worked out, but is likely to be in the region of "a few hundreds of million ringgit".

The signing ceremony was witnessed by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in Putrajaya yesterday.

Ng said the education township will be developed in three phases on a 64ha site in Port Dickson and is targeted for completion in 2016.

The first phase will see the development of a fully-equipped international school with residential facilities in May, which will be ready for its first intake by September 2009, as well as a state-of-the-art 500-bed medical centre.

The main campus, which is the second phase of the development, will house a medical sciences faculty, a management and information technology faculty, a faculty for applied sciences as well as a centre dedicated to continuous research in Blue Ocean strategy.

The third phase will see the development of an incubation centre for UCSI's subsidiaries and spin-off companies as well as facilities for marine biology studies.

West Synergy chairman Wong Aun Phui said the education township project will create a "win-win" situation for both companies as well as benefit the wider community in Port Dickson and Seremban.

Meanwhile, Ng said the Bandar Springhill development has been around for the past 10 years with infrastructure and telecommunications systems already in place.

By New Straits Times (by Rupa Damodaran)

AmFirst REIT posts RM8mil net income

KUALA LUMPUR: AmFirst REIT (real estate investment trust) recorded a net income of RM8mil, net property income of RM10.5mil and revenue of RM15.2mil for its third quarter ended Dec 31, 2007.

Am ARA REIT Managers Sdn Bhd acting chief executive officer Anthony Ooi Kwee Yang said in a statement that while growth via acquisition was important, the REIT manager was also focused on asset enhancement.

“We will undertake phased retrofitting/upgrading works on two of our (five) buildings.

“This is with the aim of not only retaining but attracting quality tenants to further improve the performance and yield of the buildings,” Ooi said.

He added that the REIT manager was looking at increasing contribution from the 2,300 parking bays it owned.

He said that in the nine months to Dec 31, the REIT's portfolio of properties achieved average rental reversion of 13.9% on the back of continued improvement in office rental rates.

“With 38% of current leases up for renewal this year and another 49% in 2009, positive reversion is expected to continue,” Ooi added.

By The Star

Prangin Mall developer ordered to get strata title

A High Court in Penang has ordered the developer of Prangin Mall, Getaran Unggul Sdn Bhd, to apply for the building's strata title within six months.

Justice John Louis O’Hara yesterday allowed an application by eight of the mall's shop lot owners for a mandatory injunction against the developer, requiring the developer to apply for the strata title.

He gave the order in the presence of the plaintiffs’ counsel Datuk V. Sithambaram and Lee Khai, and the developer's counsel V. Jeevaretnam and J. Shamesh.

The court also fixed July 10 for the continuation of the suit proper against the developer, management company Prangin Mall Sdn Bhd, and landlord of the mall’s common property Istimewa Sejati Sdn Bhd.

The eight plaintiffs are suing the defendants for failing to apply for strata title, mismanagement of the complex by allowing “temporary'' stalls to be set up and collection of rental from the stalls without approval of the local authorities.

The plaintiffs are Ng Cheng Oo, Lai Saw Looi, Ch'ng Hun Pin, Wu Mei Eng, Ch'ng Giap Theng Sdn Bhd, Heng Ah Leak, Loh Siam Kiang and Ch'ng Hun Boon.

They filed the suit on April 26, 2005, as a representative action on behalf of purchasers of the 607 shop lots in the mall.

By The Star