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Monday, June 15, 2009

Piling starts on Johor's biggest condo project

Construction has started on the RM650 million Iskandar and Oakwood Residences in Danga Bay, touted as Johor's biggest condominium development.

The contract for piling works was awarded to Econpile (M) Sdn Bhd, a specialist piling contractor, which is expected to finish the job by October.

Actual building of the three-tower project, comprising about 750 luxurious units, will begin soon. Completion is scheduled for 2012.

The condominium project, taking up 2.5ha, is being developed by Global Corporate Development Sdn Bhd, a joint venture between Iskandar Waterfront Development Sdn Bhd (IWD) and Danga Bay Sdn Bhd (DBSB).

IWD is majority owned by Iskandar Investment Bhd, in which Khazanah Nasional Bhd holds a 60 per cent stake; the Employees Provident Fund, 20 per cent; and Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor, a state government-linked company, 20 per cent.

Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman, who is also Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) co-chairman with the Prime Minister, visited the site last Saturday.

Present were IWD chairman Arlida Ariff and chief executive officer Datuk Lim Kang Hoo.

The 28-storey Oakwood Residence, with 230 units, is the southern region's first high-end serviced apartments to be managed by Oakwood Asia Pacific Pte Ltd.

The other two 38-storey towers, called Iskandar Residences, will have 523 residential units.

The podium block will offer a wide range of shopping, food and beverage facilities. Also available will be some 150,000 sq ft of corporate suites for local and multinational corporations keen to set up office in Iskandar Malaysia.

Several other signature waterfront developments in Danga Bay will be announced soon, including at least three hotel properties, an international convention and exhibition centre, office towers, and a wet and dry theme park.

By Business Times (by Sim Bak Heng)

UEM Land in talks with 3 foreign parties for tie-up

KUALA LUMPUR: UEM Land Bhd, the master developer of Nusajaya, is in talks with three foreign parties on possible strategic partnerships for its Puteri Harbour project.

Managing director and chief executive officer Wan Abdullah Wan Ibrahim said the company hoped to conclude the deals this year.

“We hope to seek greater foreign participation besides our existing two Middle Eastern partners,” he said in an interview.

Spanning over 688 acres, the Puteri Harbour waterfront development consists of high-end residential, commercial and retail properties, resorts, hotels and a convention centre.

Wan Abdullah said the group would proceed with all its development plans regardless of the weakening economy.

“We have no choice but to continue with our projects because our company is still growing as a property developer.”

Unlike more established property developers, UEM Land could not afford to defer its projects as this would have a severe impact on its medium-term growth, he said.

“However, we believe the biggest challenge for us this year is to manage our cash flow well in order to meet our business targets,” he added.

On its new project line-up this year, Wan Abdullah said preparation was currently under way for the launch of Phase 2 of its East Ledang project with an estimated gross development value (GDV) of RM195mil.

East Ledang would be developed in seven phases with a total GDV of RM2.4bil. It is a gated high-end, low-density, resort-style residential development that covers 275 acres comprising 861 units.

Phase 1, launched in February last year comprising 139 units, has a take-up rate of 80%.

Wan Abdullah said the group was also expected to launch next to East Ledang soon the Ujana, comprising a 23-storey residential tower with 172 executive apartments and four penthouses.

The company had identified a gap in the market and planned to launch residences comprising medium-cost housing with a GDV of RM630mil by the fourth quarter, he said.

“We will move into more medium-cost housing projects as this is what the market needs right now. More affordable housing, priced from RM140,000, will be built in the next few years at our schemes,” he added.

The medium-cost precinct will cover 261 acres along the Pontian Link that has not kicked off yet.

By The Star (by Shannen Wong)

YNH’s serviced residences to be managed by Fraser & Neave

GEORGE TOWN: YNH Property Bhd rebranded a month ago its RM350mil 163 Seviced Suites project as the five-star Fraser Place Kuala Lumpur to be managed by Frasers Hospitality Pte Ltd, the hospitality arm of the Fraser & Neave Group.

Fraser Hospitality manages four and five-star serviced residences equipped with hotel facilties worldwide under its prestigious Fraser Place, Fraser Residence, Fraser Suites, and Fraser Resort brand names.

Fraser Place Kuala Lumpur is scheduled to commence operations and grand opening in November 2009.

“We brought in Fraser Hospitality to manage because this will enhance returns and add value to our investors from the rentals of the serviced suites,’’ YNH corporate services head Daniel Chan told StarBiz.

“We estimated that for the location – Jalan Perak – where the project is located, which is five minutes from the KLCC shopping complex, the yield generated from rental is between 6% and 10% per year based on the purchase price of the units.

“Fraser Place Kuala Lumpur will be one of the higher-yield generating properties based on the purchase price of the units, which ranges from RM600,000 to RM2mil,” he said.

Chan said Fraser Place Kuala Lumpur was sold out, leaving only about RM80mil in unbilled sales to be recognised.

YNH started selling the project back in late 2005, and completed the sales only recently.

“The investors, both local and foreign, have agreed to lease their properties back to us, as they realised that they could generate higher returns through Fraser Hospitality management,” he said.

Fraser Place KL offers 217 rooms, comprising studios with one and two bedrooms and luxurious penthouses, with built-up areas ranging from 450 to 4,000 sq ft.

Chan said the group had also engaged Fraser Hospitality to manage its 446-unit serviced residence development to be known as Fraser Residence Kuala Lumpur, off Jalan Sultan Ismail, next to Renaissance Hotel.

The RM550mil project, comprising two 30-storey towers with one and two-bedroom serviced apartments, features a sky gymnasium, infinity lap pool, whirlpool and sauna.

“It is scheduled for completion in four years,” Chan said.

On the group’s 95-acre land in Genting Highlands, he said YNH planned to develop residential cum commercial projects with an estimated gross sales value of RM2bil.

On the group’s other projects, Chan said YNH had recently achieved sales of RM300mil for Menara YNH’s retail podium, which measures 180,000 sq ft.

“The offer from Kuwait Finance House to take up 50% of the office space in Menara YNH is expected to be finalised this year,” he said.

On the Kiara 163 project, located next to Plaza Mont Kiara, Chan said the group had achieved sales of RM200mil for the commercial component measuring 480,000 sq ft.

“We will launch the residential component, comprising serviced apartments, soon as there are a lot of enquiries from the local and overseas market,” he added.

By The Star (by David Tan)

Three-star Hotel Sentral targets budget travellers

HOTEL Sentral (KL) Sdn Bhd, a privately-held company controlled by the Ta family, has opened the RM80 million Hotel Sentral, a three-star property in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, aimed at budget travellers.

The 192-room 16-storey hotel is located behind the monorail station, which is opposite the Kuala Lumpur Sentral development.

The company's managing director and founder May Ta said she has no qualms about opening the hotel now eventhough city hotels are suffering from low occupancy due to poor market sentiments.

Ta told Business Times that the company is branding the property as a value-for-money destination.

"While we are a three-star property, we are providing in-room safe, an LCD flat screen television in each room, and WIFI services. The hotel is located within walking distance to KL Sentral and public transporation," Ta said.

Walk-in room rates start from as low as RM138 nett for a standard room, to RM345 nett for an executive suite.

Ta added that Hotel Sentral is expected to achieve 60 per cent occupancy at an average room rate of RM110 by December 31 2009.

"We have been operating for just a month and are running at more than 60 per cent currently. We are enjoying from AirAsia's night flights. The first place travellers want to go to upon reaching KL Sentral is to the nearest hotel. This will contribute to growth for the property," Ta said.

Since its opening, Hotel Sentral has received guests from New Zealand, Australia, Japan and India.

Ta said she is optimistic the company will be able to recoup its investments in the hotel over the next 8-10 years.

"Brickfields will be the future Little India and this will encourage more travellers to come towards this part of Kuala Lumpur. We will be investing a lot over the next one year to position the hotel," she said, adding that the rich heritage of Brickfields will bring customers to the hotel's doorstep.

The hotel was officially opened by former Tourism Minister Datuk Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor on Saturday, witnessed by ex-Inspector General of Police Malaysia Tan Sri Norian Mai, and Datuk Ruslin Hasan, former mayor of Kuala Lumpur.

Ta's father, Tan Sri Ta Kin Yan was also present.

By Business Times (by Sharen Kaur)

Hotel Sentral plans to go regional in 3 to 4 years

The Ta family has been involved in operating hotels and resorts in Malaysia for over 15 years and is planning to branch out to Southeast Asia in three to four years.

Hotel Sentral (KL) Sdn Bhd managing director and founder May Ta said the family wants to continue its legacy to provide value-for-money destinations for all groups of people internationally and not restricted to Malaysians.

"We feel operating budget hotels and three-star properties is the best business to be in whether in Malaysia or overseas. There are many budget travellers looking for the best deals," she told Business Times.

The hotel is headed by Ta, a 25-year-old with a degree in international business from Perth, Australia.

Ta is not new to the hotel business. She has been involved in the hotel business since 12, following her family's footstep, especially her father, Tan Sri Ta Kin Yan, on his business rounds.

"I have always liked the hospitality industry. I like to interact with people. It is very challenging that way. My grandfather used to run Hotel Lido in Brickfields but sold his stake several years ago. I learnt a lot from him," she said.

The Ta family owns among others, the three-star Olympic Hotel and New Winner Hotel in Brickfields, Puduraya Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Pulau Redang Resort in Terengganu, and Wenchang Golf Club in Hainan Island, China.

Ta said the properties are 60-70 per cent occupied currently despite the slowdown in the economy.

"We have always been involved in running budget hotels and three-star properties. We plan to move up a notch and venture into four-star hotels and resorts soon. We are targeting Malaysia, China and Thailand, but much will depend on opportunities," Ta said.

By Business Times

Reconsider height limit on hotel projects, Penang council urged

The Real Estate and Housing Developers' Association Malaysia (Rehda) has called on the Penang Island Municipal Council to reconsider the restriction made to limit Penang's inner city hotel projects to 18m height or five-storey.

"We respect the decision made by the Penang state authorities to preserve George Town as a world heritage site, but the restriction is unfair to the industry," Rehda president Datuk Ng Seing Liong said in a statement.

The association said it is concerned that the state planning department is now applying the 18m height blanket restriction despite having given approval for the four projects initially.

"It is premature for the state to pre-empt Unesco's decision on the status of the four projects. This is because Unesco has yet to decide how the 18m height restriction would affect the four approved projects in the state's heritage and buffer zones," Ng said, referring to the RM400 million The Pier Hub @Weld Quay project, the RM140 million Boustead Royale Bintang Hotel in Lebuh Downing, the E&O Hotel's extension project and a 23-storey hotel in Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah.

He stressed that the state should protect the concerned projects, if it believes in the benefits to be generated by the projects.

Ng said it is important to know Unesco's view on the shortcomings of the heritage listing application with regard to the 18m height restriction.

"The state authorities should seriously review and study the need for such restriction. There shouldn't be any assumption that Penang will lose its world heritage status if the projects are carried out," he said.

By Business Times

PHBB in talks to buy prime KL land for RM250m

The deal to acquire the Railway Asset Corp-owned commercial land by Pelaburan Hartanah Bumiputera Bhd has yet to be done despite news about it three years ago.

Pelaburan Hartanah Bumiputera Bhd (PHBB) is in talks to buy a piece of prime land in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, for an estimated RM250 million, a deal that has yet to be done despite news about it three years ago.

The 3.6-hectare commercial land is owned by Railway Asset Corp (RAC), a body set up by the Ministry of Transport to help the government, Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd and other railway firms develop railway infrastructure.

An official from RAC told Business Times that RAC had been approached by several developers but it was not ready to sell. The official declined to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media.

PHBB, which was set up with RM1 billion in hand, is meant to help raise the Bumiputera share of the commercial property market.

While it has made some progress buying prime properties in Kuala Lumpur from private companies, deals with government agencies have been slow.

It was back in 2006 that former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said PHBB was in the process of buying several prime land in Kuala Lumpur to be developed as commercial buildings and offices.

The list included the KTM land in Jalan Bangsar, Dataran Perdana in Jalan Davis and the Rubber Research Institute land in Jalan Ampang.

PHBB, a unit of Permodalan Nasional Bhd, has bought the Menara Bumiputra-Commerce in Kuala Lumpur from CIMB Group for RM460 million in 2007.

It is also buying CP Tower, an office building in Section 16, Petaling Jaya, from CIMB-Mapletree Management Sdn Bhd for RM200 million.

Sources said PHBB wants to build properties that are almost similar to the thriving Mid Valley City, which comprises malls, apartments, hotels and office buildings, on the KTM land in Bangsar.

It is unclear if PHBB will develop the project on its own or in a joint venture with RAC. It may well ask builder Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB) to help since both are partners in existing projects, the source said.

Together, they are developing a retail complex at Kuala Lumpur Sentral in Brickfields.

They are also developing the RM2 billion Penang Sentral transportation project. PHBB officials were not available for comment.

By Business Times (by Sharen Kaur)