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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lifestyle centre

In line with its “Live, Work, Play” theme of the Kuala Lumpur (KL) Sentral masterplan, Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB) built its Sooka Sentral lifestyle centre with the sole intention of enhancing the lifestyle of the populace that work and live within the KL Sentral area.

The concept for Sooka Sentral was crystallised to fulfill the need to provide a one-stop lifestyle hub to cater to the 130,000 daily visitors and travellers and over 25,000 professionals working within the vicinity.

The winner of the International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI) Malaysia Property Award (MPA) 2009 under the “Purpose-Built Project” category, is strategically located next to Malaysia’s largest transit hub, Stesen Sentral. It offers discerning urbanites a unique health, beauty and dining experience within the exclusive urban centre.

An indoor gym at Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd’s multi-level Sooka Sentral Lifestyle Centre at KL Sentral.

“Sooka Sentral is very contemporary and iconic in its structure and represents urban lifestyle preferences. It is the only one-stop centre in the vicinity conceptualised to fulfill specific needs of its stakeholders - be it local, regional and international,” says MRCB chief operating officer Mohamed Razeek Hussain (pic).

The external facade of the lifestyle centre is definitely something to marvel at. Unlike most buildings that are square or rectangular in shape, Sooka Sentral is dynamically shaped like an oval bubble – evoking a catchy avant-garde feel.

Fusion of movement and nature is part of the concept, which is far from the conventional, formal homogeneity. Special care was taken to ensure that the overall space complements aesthetics, allowing natural light and fresh air to flow generously, adding to the overall ambiance.

Comprising seven floors, the interior was designed keeping in mind the interests and profile of the visitors. Restaurants and dining outlets are reserved for ground, first and second floors to allow for greater public interaction and to cater for the higher foot traffic on the lower levels.

Similarly, the slimming, beauty and spa salons are on the higher (third and fourth) floors while a 25,000 sq ft gymnasium occupies the upper levels – for more customer privacy.

With a gross development value of RM80mil, Sooka Sentral has gross floor area of 180,000 sq ft and net lettable area of 100,000 sq ft. Mohamed Razeek says this is deliberately done.

“An average office building efficiency would be in the region of 75% to 80%. With Sooka Sentral, it’s just below 60% because we wanted to give people ample moving space. It also adds to the vibrancy and the attractiveness of the experience.

“We wanted to give people ample moving space. It’s toward a holistic existence. Because you spend the better part of your day at work, we want to make the experience (of Sooka) as pleasant as possible,” he says.

There are currently 32 tenants within Sooka Sentral – representing a take-up of over 80%. It aims to achieve 100% tenancy rate with the opening of several food & beverage (F&B) outlets in the next few months. Half of the Sooka Sentral tenants comprise F&B outlets serving a variety of international cuisines and beverage options catering to all income groups.

Other tenants include spas, beauty salons and a convenience store. Mohamed Razeek says MRCB is ‘very selective’ of its tenants.

“We let out and maintain all of the outlets. Because it’s a lifestyle centre, we are selective of our tenants and don’t sell. When you sell, you lose control,” he says.

The current average rental per sq ft is RM6, which translates to a 6% yield per annum. Sooka Sentral has been in operation since early 2008. While construction is 100% complete, MRCB is still looking to add upgrades to the lifestyle centre to maximise the experience of its patrons.

“We try not to stay idle and always look at ways to improve. We are always open to feedback and try to make continuous improvements,” says Mohamed Razeek.

Interestingly, the name ‘Sooka’ was derived from the Malay word ‘Suka,’ which means ‘to like.’ It was to be a reflection of how MRCB wanted its customers to feel about the lifestyle centre.

“We wanted people to enjoy their experience there and ‘suka’ Sooka,” Mohamed Razeek says.

Mohamed Razeek says winning an accolade such as FIABCI is proof that the developer is on the right path.

“It gives us confidence that we are on the right track, and a bonus as Sooka Sentral introduces a totally different concept compared to other commercial developments in the country.

“Sooka Sentral winning the award is an affirmation that the concept has served its target market well, befitting the ‘Purpose-built’ concept. The award will serve as a reminder of the benchmarks we have set and we will continue to meet those standards,” he says.

By The Star (by Eugene Mahalingam - Malaysia Property Award 2009 - Best Purpose-Built Project)

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