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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Million Seed to ‘build and sell’

JOHOR BARU: Million Seed Sdn Bhd has become the first developer to introduce the “build and sell” concept in Johor.

The adoption of this concept would instil more public confidence in the company, as purchasers would be buying only completed properties, said managing director Denny Lee.

Samuel Tan Wee Cheng (left)and Denny Lee

“We want to differentiate ourselves from other existing developers in Johor,” he told StarBiz at the launch of its 26 units of three-storey shop offices on Saturday.

Located along Jalan Masai Jaya in Plentong next to the newly opened Tesco Extra store, the units are expected to be completed by year-end.

Lee said the units were part of the company's 4.45ha freehold land project, which would span six years with RM418mil in gross development value.

He said phase two would have 12 units of three-storey shop offices, phase three 1,000 serviced apartments and phase four a hotel tower block.

Lee said the company would focus on developing the commercial properties as many players were already engaged in residential property projects in Johor Baru.

“Demand for shop offices in Iskandar Malaysia is also rising as more businesses are setting up operations in South Johor,” he added.

Project agent KGV-Lambert Smith Hampton (Johor) Sdn Bhd director Samuel Tan Wee Cheng said the Masai-Plentong area was fast emerging as the new commercial hub.

He also said the area was in close proximity to established housing estates such as Taman Molek, Taman Johor Jaya and Bandar Baru Permas Jaya.

He said there were several new upcoming commercial properties in the area and infrastructure projects such as the Eastern Dispersal Link Highway (EDL) and Permas Jaya second bridge to be completed in 2010.

“Masai-Plentong area is part of Iskandar Malaysia and is a brown field area with most infrastructure facilities already in place,” said Tan.

He added that location was integral to the success of commercial projects.

By The Star (by Zazali Musa)

Boon to property market

Malacca's old quarter, which include 17th Century Dutch-era buildings such as the Christ Church (right), has finally been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

MALACCA: Heritage building owners in George Town and here will see a boom now that both the historical cities have been listed as Unesco’s World Heritage Sites.

Despite the strict building code regulations governing renovations to heritage buildings, over 1,000 property owners here are expected to see their property prices increasing.

19th Century Chinese Baroque style embellishments on older buildings along Jalan Hang Jebat (formerly Jonker Street) in Malacca add to the charm of the city's old quarter.

According to Foo Gee Jen, a director of a property evaluation company, property prices for homes along Jonker and Heeren streets have risen steadily over the past 15 years.

“Depending on its size and condition, a unit used to fetch up to RM200,000 fifteen years ago.

“In 2005, property was valued at RM120 per sq ft but shot up to RM200 per sq ft recently,” he said, adding that a unit could now fetch up to RM800,000 to a RM1mil.

He said that the inscription as a World Heritage Site would push prices of the buildings up almost immediately by at least 20% to 30%.

Malacca Heritage Trust president Debbie Lee said there already existed building regulations and guidelines that were adopted by the city council in line with Unesco’s charter on World Heritage Site.

Although there were strict conservation laws, she noted that there is no total ban against owners who wished to renovate their buildings for re-adaptive use.

“What is needed now is for the city council and state to employ more trained conservation architects and officers to carry out implementation and enforcement work,” she said.

The Malacca site comprises 214.6ha and covers two protected areas within the conservation zone of the city and is demarcated by the Melaka River.

The first area is the St Paul's Hill Civic Zone comprising government buildings, museums, churches, the original fortress town from the 16th century Portuguese and Dutch period and Bukit Cina.

The second area is the Historic Residential and Commercial Zone comprising 600 shophouses, commercial and residential buildings, religious buildings and tombs on four main streets.

George Town in Penang has one of the largest concentration of pre-World War Two (1939-45) buildings in Asia.

In GEORGE TOWN, the prices of pre-war houses in the inner city are expected to soar with foreign and local developers looking to capitalise on the recent Unesco listing.

“Pre-war houses are quite cheap now.

“Depending on the location and the state of the building concerned, it could cost between RM800,000 and RM1mil each,” said Datuk Jerry Chan, chairman of the Penang Real Estate Housing and Developers Association (Rehda).

“With potential business opportunities that come with being a Unesco site, local and foreign developers will be snapping up the pre-war buildings, so I think we can expect a 50% to 100% jump in prices.”

He said the association was not against foreign developers coming in but stressed that the Government must regulate business activities in the area.

“In some instances, it actually costs more to restore an old building than to build a new one so perhaps the Government can offer some incentives to those up for the task,” he said.

Penang Municipal Council president Datuk Zainal Rahim Seman said the council would make sure developers and property owners complied with the council’s heritage guidelines when restoring or renovating their premises.

By The Star

Residents in jitters over project

Bad tidings: The notice informing residents of the upcoming development at KL Sentral

The owners of the Suasana Sentral Condominium and Suasana Sentral Loft at Kuala Lumpur Sentral are real unhappy over a plan to build a 30-storey building near their properties.

What irked them most is that the developer, Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad (MRCB), had apparently given them an impression six years ago that the particular area would remain a green spot.

They said the green area was a major factor influencing them to buy their units at the Suasana Sentral and Suasana Sentral Loft.

“The developer had promised us that the land would remain green and that no development would take place there and now we find out that it is going to build a 30-storey building,” said expatriate Timoko Atsuka, a resident of Suasana Sentral.

“The KL Sentral is a transport hub and is congested and the lack of parking bays makes the situation even worse. This new development is going to cause more congestion,” she said.

Rita Vong said she would be moving into the Loft in August and her unit faced the open area where the new building was to be built.

She is worried about noise and air pollution.

Shankar Narayanan, the owner of a unit in Suasana Sentral, said the developer should be responsible enough to brief the residents on the new project and provide them with the density figures.

“There has to be limits as to the population and high-rise density in the area and we want all this information to be made public,” he said.

According to Shankar, the residents are also seeking a traffic assessment report for the entire area.

The residents said they would meet officials of the Coalition to Save Kuala Lumpur, a group comprising residents associations, to seek their advice.

The residents want to find out if the proposed development is in line with the Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2020 and the draft Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020.

The residents are also complaining that the entire neighbourhood is getting congested, and they blame the KL Sentral management for the chaotic situation.

They alleged that a new entertainment outlet at the KL Sentral operating until 5am on weekends was another source of congestion and disturbance.

They said the outlet patrons simply parked their cars in the middle of the road, blocking all entries from the KL Sentral to the Suasana Sentral condominium.

The residents said that buses were also parked on the roadsides under the no-parking and towing signs and were contributing to the congestion in the neighbourhood.

“This place is getting overcrowded and during peak times it gets really bad. Something must be done about the situation,” resident Sunny Yeoh said.

When contacted, a MRCB spokesman said at the time of the KL Sentral’s inception, the empty plot of land on which the Shell petrol station was previously sited did not belong to the KL Sentral or MRCB, nor was it any part of the original blueprint.

The land was sold to Gapurna Sdn Bhd a few years ago by Shell after it closed its petrol station.

The land had always been designated a commercial zone. Gapurna later applied for the full commercial development of the parcel.

Defying the law: Buses and taxis parked all along the road leading to the KL Sentral and bordering the Suasana Sentral condo despite the towing sign.

The MRCB spokesman said his company became aware of this development last year and then signed a joint venture agreement with Gapurna.

“We entered into this venture to exercise some measure of control over the development that would take place on the lot, including its design and construction decisions. We want to ensure that the proposed development would complement the KL Sentral masterplan and development,” he said.

“As a responsible developer, our team of experienced personnel will do the required research and analysis to ensure the feasibility of the development on this plot of land, as well as to ensure that the overall concept is not compromised,” the MRCB official said.

He said the MRCB would ensure that there was sufficient greenery and that proper landscaping was done to benefit the communities nearby and that the company would also reduce the density to ensure that it was consistent with the existing KL Sentral development.

On the issue of buses illegally parked along Jalan Stesen Sentral 3, and disturbances caused by entertainment outlets operating till the wee hours of the morning, the MRCB official promised that Semasa Sentral Sdn Bhd, the managers of the Sentral station, would monitor the situation.

“Action will be taken against those found not adhering to regulations,” he said.

“The KL Sentral has seen rapid progress since its inception 10 years ago. Individual components within the development complement each other, and MRCB will ensure that this value remains,” the MRCB official said.

By The Star (by Bavani M)

MRCB keen on housing projects in Pakistan

MALAYSIAN Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB) is interested to explore investment possibilities in housing and real estate development in Pakistan.

The construction company also plans to lead a high-level business delegation to Pakistan to meet the stakeholders and explore the possibilities of investment and transfer of technology in the sector.

They are also looking into the possibilities of laying intra-city and inter-city railways network, the High Commission of Pakistan said in a statement yesterday.

The interest was expressed by its group managing director, Shahril Ridza Ridzuan, during a meeting with the Pakistani Prime Minister, Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani, in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

During the meeting, the prime minister said the Pakistan government is committed to provide decent housing facilities to the entire population, especially the low-income group and government employees residing in big cities.

“The government will provide assistance and incentives to foreign investors who are willing to invest in housing sector and real estate development on larger scale,” he said.

By Bernama

Scheme to help lower-income group cope with housing loans

The Finance Ministry is discussing with banks to reduce the monthly repayments for housing loans to lessen the financial burden of the lower-income group.

Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop said the move would enable borrowers to have more disposable income for their daily expenses.

For example, a person who has managed to repay half the amount of his 20-year loan of RM300,000 within 10 years might be given 20 years instead of 10 to repay the rest of the loan.

The monthly loan repayment would thus be reduced, giving the buyer additional disposable income, he added.

“I have discussed this idea with representatives of the banks, and they have given a positive response to the loan restructuring scheme,” he said.

“The lower repayment will ease the burden of borrowers,” he said during the winding-up speech on behalf of his ministry.

On credit cards, Nor Mohamed said the ministry had asked banks to review the move to abolish the 20-day interest-free period for new retail transactions for credit cardholders.

The move was criticised by the public and MPs who said that the 20-day period allowed consumers to plan their spending.

“A decision on this will be announced later,” Nor Mohamed added.

On the fear of recession, Nor Mohamed said Malaysia had shown strong resilience in countering the effects of inflation, a financial crisis and the recent spike in oil prices.

He said such problems had cropped up in 10-year cycles, adding that the country had suffered the effects of a drastic drop in commodity prices in the 1980s, the financial crisis in 1997 and now the surge in global oil prices.

“We don’t know whether such crisis, which came up every 10 years, should be viewed as a coincidence or whether there were some groups who didn’t want other countries, such as Islamic countries, to become economic successes in their own right.

“But, it’s important to understand that such crisis should not be regarded as the last that we will face and we must be prepared for all eventualities,” he added.

Nor Mohamed said it was also pertinent that the Government practised fiscal discipline.

By The Star