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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Getting away from the ‘govt’ mode

For many, “Putrajaya” is often associated with the “Federal Government.” And it’s not difficult to see why.

One just have to drive through Putrajaya Boulevard, a stretch of road flanked by formidable, uniquely designed Government buildings with the word “Ministry” on nearly every one of them.

Datuk Azlan Abdul Karim ... ‘When we built Putrajaya, we didn’t design it solely for the public sector.’

Putrajaya Holdings Sdn Bhd (PJH) chief executive officer Datuk Azlan Abdul Karim is the first to point out the Putrajaya/Government co-relation.

“When we built Putrajaya, we didn’t design it solely for the public sector. It’s for the entire nation. You can’t have a liveable city if it’s only catered to one particular sector,” he tells StarBizWeek.

PJH is the administrative capital’s master developer.

Commercial hub

Azlan admits there is a need for developments in Putrajaya that could “attract the people,” namely via commercial projects.

“People don’t consider Putrajaya as a business hub, again because of the feel that the place is exclusive to government personnel,” says Azlan.

Azlan says PJH has sold three parcels of land to two Hong Kong-based parties for potential commercial developments, but declines to go into detail.

He also says PJH is looking into the possibility of setting up a theme park within Putrajaya.

“We’ve been having discussions with several parties, especially international players. But nothing is concrete at this moment. We are embarking on several ‘unique’ projects to bring in the crowd,” he says.

“There is also no point in signing an MoU (memorandum of understanding) with potential parties on a project that we want to work on, and then it (the MoU) just fizzles out.”

Azlan says PJH is looking at setting up another retail centre within Precint 8. However, that too, he says, is still “on the drawing board.”

It currently has one retail centre – the Alamanda Shopping Centre in Precint 1.

In May, PHJ launched its Venice-inspired commercial development, the Promenade@8 in Putrajaya. The freehold development is the first waterfront development in Putrajaya. It comprises shopping lots, outdoor dining and leisure areas.

Heralded as the “waterfront hub for business and leisure,” the project bosts a nett saleable area of 240,000 sq ft, with a gross development value of about RM120mil. Azlan says that about 90% of the units had already been taken up.

The project is slated for completion within the next three years.

Azlan says that PJH plans to offer office suites in Putrajaya within the next year and a half.

“We want to target entrepreneurs to both live and work here. We have also awarded a contract for a 380-room business hotel about three months ago,” he says, without disclosing further details.

Azlan also says there was a need for more entertainment outlets in Putrajaya.

“We don’t have nightclubs here, but then again, that isn’t our intention. We want a Putrajaya to be a place that’s good for the family, where people can have good, clean fun.”

A place to live in

According to previous reports, PJH has a total undeveloped landbank of 801 acres, with 385 acres allocated for commercial development, while the remaining 416 acres have been earmarked for residential development.

Asked if there is a perception that property, especially residential, was expensive in Putrajaya, Azlan says: “We sell whatever the market can take.”

“We have high-end homes that cost RM2.2mil as well as more affordable homes from around RM45,000.”

Azlan says there are about 1,800 “affordable homes” in Putrajaya already, adding that there were plans to launch more of these developments in the pipeline.

“We’re still determining the prices of these homes.”

“The people living here complain that our residential developments don’t have fences (between the homes). But this is intentional, as we feel it would foster better interaction between the residents,” he adds.

According to Azlan, Putrajaya has about 80,000 residents. Its working population is around 35,000.

The green agenda

As part of its initiative to make Putrajaya more “liveable” and attractive, PJH will be addressing the Government’s call to turn the administrative’s capital into a “green city.”

Under the 10th Malaysia Plan, The Government announced it would promote environmentally-friendly housing by introducing guidelines and a green rating system. Putrajaya and Cyberjaya would serve as flagship green townships.

“The Government is looking at making Putrajaya a model green city and we are working closely with the Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry to achieve this.”

He says future projects would need to comply with the Green Building Index (GBI).

“This is to ensure that our buildings are energy efficient. The Government is also providing incentives to developers that construct buildings that are GBI-compliant.

“With the incentives, we’re hoping that more developers would come in and take up the challenge (of developing green buildings).

Azlan adds that developers should not be influenced by incentives to develop green buildings.

“It should not be about that (incentives). (Going green) means to be sustainable, which is necessary for our future development. In some countries today, construction projects are not even approved if they don’t meet certain (green) requirements.

“That is where we should be headed.”

By The Star

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