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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Developing townships with the right attributes

The environment theme has become a unique selling proposition for many new property projects as developers hope to leverage on the people’s greater awareness of the environment to boost sales.

It is easy to understand why there is great interest in the environment by both ends of the market. For the buyers, it is not just about the “environmental friendly” way of life but the overall environment of a neighbourhood, including security, safety, facilities and amenities, accessibility and other considerations.

These are important factors that will affect the value of the property in the secondary market when one decides to sell the property.

Many landed residential properties in such neighbourhoods have escalated in prices and even intermediate units are being sold at more than RM800,000 to close to RM1mil a unit.

A check in the classified pages of The Star shows only limited units of landed residences up for sale around the Klang Valley. Most of the “for sale” units are high-rise apartments or condominiums.

As for developers, it pays to plan their townships or projects based on a well balanced and sustainable environment for living, working and playing or recreation.

Instead of maximising the built-up space, developers should strive to achieve the optimum and balanced ratio between the built and “free” or undeveloped space in their projects.

By freeing up land to provide for more pedestrian walkways that link the different neighbourhoods, green lungs and other community facilities including playgrounds, residents will be able to walk more and drive less – thus lowering their carbon footprint.

Besides lowering the cost of living, such facilities will also promote a stronger community camaraderie and kinship among the residents.

These could be the reasons why Desa ParkCity homes are fetching one of the highest price premium in Kuala Lumpur, and possibly the country today.

Since the 473 acre-township took off in 2002, houses in Desa ParkCity have registered a compounded price appreciation of between 50% and 150%, or about 10% to 25% a year, in the secondary market.

From about RM470,000, or about RM235 per sq ft for a terrace house of 2,000 sq ft in 2002, the price has escalated to RM563 per sq ft last month. At a balloting on June 26, all the 137 terraced houses of 3,100 sq ft priced at RM1.75mil were snapped up. More than 800 buyers turned up for the balloting.

Desa ParkCity is a thriving “walkable” township with nine foot walkways connecting all the neighbourhoods.

Its tree-lined streets, a 43-acre central park and well-landscaped neighbourhood parks are among its main attractions.

The success of Desa ParkCity shows that developers should not just exploit the environment catchphrase as a marketing tool, but to go the extra mile to ensure that the townships or projects being built have all the right attributes that promote a holistic, wholesome and secure environment.

Developments with community, park-like environment, walkable streets and top-notch security will be a welcome change from the usual barrack-style layout of most housing estates that are still being built today.

Bad road congestion seems like a “perpetual” occurence in many of our townships. To alleviate the problem, developers should not overbuild and have better traffic planning, including more entrances and exits to make driving within the townships more pleasant.

Likewise, while the Government is making plans to redevelop some of the federal assets and land in Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley, the planning authorities should set aside land for the environment cause.

Our cities certainly need more central parks to allow city folk some natural avenues to unwind and relax.

Deputy news editor Angie Ng believes developers that adopt the noble objective of building wholesome environments for the people will be held in high regard for their nobility.

By The Star

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