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Saturday, September 26, 2009

The changing face of Cheras

Cheras is undergoing a transformation. At one time known to be a suburb for petty traders, the township of about 800,000 is slowly changing public perception. It has moved up the status ladder and today holds a large middle class population.

One of Kuala Lumpur’s largest suburbs will today have what may be its first landed strata development.

Datuk Liew Hoong (left) and his son Kim Seng, the chief operating officer, with a model of the Taynton Hill bungalows.

While there are several projects there which comes with security and perimeter fencing, FAM Development Sdn Bhd says these are not strata projects.

Says chief executive officer Datuk Liew Hoong: “Prior to the Building and Strata Title Act 2007, the previous Strata Title Act governed only condominium projects. While most of us are familiar with vertical strata projects, as in condominiums, there was nothing to govern landed strata projects.

Under the Building and Strata Title Act 2007, only owners can decide how things are run in a gated and guarded community.

“Therefore, our project Taynton Hill, which comprises 16 units of three-storey bungalows will be the first strata development here,” he says.

Located in Taynton Estate, with access via the East-West highway and via Jalan Cheras, the 3.2 acre development is located next to Sri Mutiara Secondary School.

Liew says there will be another proposed access via the Middle Ring Road 2 (MRR2). This will be FAM’s first project after a long hiatus of some 20 years. Its previous project was a residential and commercial development with the Sunway group in Batu Caves in the 1980s.

Bungalow sizes range between 5,800sq ft and 8,600sq ft, with prices ranging from RM3.8mil to more than RM6.5mil. They are expected to be launched in the middle of next month.

The modern contemporary units come with lifts. Five of the 16 units have been sold. Because the project is located on undulating land, each bungalow will be a meter lower from its neighbour.

The company bought the land in 2007 for RM125 per sq feet. It is now worth about RM160 psf today. The project will have a gross development value of RM85mil.

“We are targeting upgraders in Cheras between 35 and 65 years old with extended families,” he says.

Over the years, Cheras has progressed from the usual double-storey terraces to include bungalows. This has subsequently progressed to pockets of small developments with security features and high-perimeter fencing.

“While such projects have been popular among the Cheras population, these are public roads and the local authorities can have these security barriers removed. With Taynton Hill, it will be different,” he says.

Cheras stretches from the Royal Selangor Golf Club along Jalan Tun Razak-Jalan Bukit Bintang intersection to parts of it bordering Kajang. Parts of Cheras have a Selangor address while the larger part of it comes with a Kuala Lumpur address.

There are several developers who are active there at the moment other than FAM. This includes IJM group (Bukit Mandarina and Monte Bayu), Mah Sing group (Hijauan Residence and One Lagenda), Lum Chang group (Twin Palms Cheras) and SPPK with Alam Damai (Syarikat Perumahan Pegawai Kerajaan Sdn Bhd).

While there are several projects going on at present, GuocoLand (M) Bhd’s bungalow and high-rise condominium development Cirrus Cheras will be the one that is physically nearest to FAM’s Taynton Hill. That project is on 16 acres versus FAM’s 3.2 acres. Besides the larger players, there are also several small developers in that area.

Liew says because Cheras is large and sprawling, it is home to a large cross section of the Kuala Lumpur population.

“Several generations stay here and there is constant upgrading among the population. Therefore, even very small developers with small plots of land tend to enjoy good sales when they build here, particularly if the project comes with some sort of security elements,” says Liew.

FAM Development Sdn Bhd is a family business, with Liew at the helm. He is assisted by three of his four children currently. Besides property development, the FAM group has interest in plantation and other business ventures in China and Hong Kong.

By The Star (by Thean Lee Cheng)

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