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Saturday, September 4, 2010

A new class of condos

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Luxury units with spectacular views and top quality designs

Two things stand out among the Top 10 freehold condominiums around KLCC - the wide disparity in capital values of those who made it to the ranks (the top 2 are worth more than two to three times than the tenth ranked) while it drives home the point that branding and specific site, even if in the same vicinity, can make a huge difference.

In June, when it was reported that a tycoon listed on Forbes had purchased a penthouse on The Binjai On The Park for RM38mil, many were agog at the price these new luxury condominiums were fetching.

In fact, this particular transaction set the record for the highest single residential property ever transacted in Malaysia.

Even on a per square feet (psf) basis, The Binjai on the Park, developed by KLCC Holdings, has broken the record; one of its standard units on the auspicious 38th floor was sold for RM2,900 psf or RM10.6mil.

A strong indicator that living in KLCC has become more attractive, says Property consultancy Knight Frank managing director Eric Ooi, is that more tycoons are acquiring penthouses in condominiums in the vicinity.

6-star living

Over the past five years, the demand for condominiums in the KLCC area has been geared towards lifestyle condominiums.

The earlier condominiums emphasized on space, bigger and better facilities. Good examples are Selangor Dredging Bhd’s (SDB) Park Seven and E&O Bhd’s Dua Residency.

“We were the pioneers of lifestyle condominiums five years ago when the concept was still very new. Now the new opportunity could be in luxury-lifestyle products,” says E&O executive director Eric Chan.

In the last one year however, demand for luxury condominiums of a different kind have been on the rise. These units offer the most spectacular views, are designed by famous international architects and have top-quality designer finishes and fittings. Examples are The Binjai on the Park and Troika.

Generally, while prices for real estate are heading north, there seems to be a new pricing phenomenon taking place with certain condominiums around KLCC.

According to Bandar Raya Developments Bhd chief executive officer Datuk Jagan Sabapathy, one should not use the normal parameters of supply, demand, comparative valuation and yields to explain the pricing power of luxury real-estate products such as The Binjai On The Park and Troika.

“For these sort of luxury condominiums, there are only about 500 units. These units are catered more for the top five percent of society,” he explains.

Both The Binjai On The Park and Troika offer 24 hour concierge service, delivery services from the shopping malls and even the booking of flight and concert tickets among many others.

Hashim Wahir ... “There are many condos around KLCC. But there is only one KLCC condo, which is the Binjai on the Park

“We are working with Suria KLCC, Mandarin Oriental and Traders Hotel to continuously improve our residents’ experience of the KLCC lifestyle. For example, residents gets priority treatment from Petronas’s newly operational Prince Court Medical Centre, which is just 5 minutes away, for any healthcare services.” says KLCC Group of Companies Group chief executive officer Hashim Wahir, adding that it is in a class of its own.

WestMont S.A. Properties senior negotiator Chris Teng says that the price of a condominium in KL depends on address, location and quality of facilities.

“The closer you are to the KLCC development, the value goes higher. The reason why The Binjai on the Park commands a premium is because it has a permanently unblocked view of the Petronas Twin Towers.

“We know for sure there will be no developments in front of The Binjai on the Park. A lot of the other condominiums have potential developments that could block their view, so this affects their pricing levels,” he elaborates.

Zerin Properties chief executive officer Previndran Singhe points out that there is a residential enclave forming in the KLCC area.

“With the KLCC maturing over the years, the residential enclave seems to be establishing on Persiaran KLCC where The Binjai on the Park is located, across the KLCC Park and not too close to the commercial activities around the Petronas Twin Towers and Suria KLCC.

Rising owner-occupied units

“Apart from having the best address ‘Persiaran KLCC’, this side is greener, less congested, quieter and has more commanding views. A residential cluster is a lot more effective in attracting more families, both locals and expats, to shift to KLCC,” he says.

As it stands now, the take up rates for The Binjai on the Park and Troika are 70% of 171 units and 85% of 229 units launched so far.

KGV-Lambert Smith Hampton Sdn Bhd director Anthony Chua says these days, condominiums are more owner occupied compared to the past.

As such, there is more emphasis on quality of finishings and unique features that set them apart from other condominium developments.

SDB managing director Teh Lip Kee says that Park 7’s success is due to its location and high emphasis on delivering services.

Park Seven has a occupancy rate of 95% and are mostly expatriates.

“These are people who walk to work, whether in Shell, Tan & Tan Developments, the Twin Towers or KLCC,” she says.

Jagan says that while Troika does not have the locational advantage of The Binjai on the Park, it still has a great view of the Twin Towers and the Royal Selangor Golf Club. It is also near the KLCC Park.

“We knew we had to do something special. We had a great location and branding, but how do we create superior value?

“So we looked for a superior architect that was iconic and leading, hence we got the number one architect in the world, Norman Foster,”

“The positioning of Troika is in its enduring value. The Binjai on the Park may have the primest site, but our building has the Wow factor,” says Jagan.

Previndran says that nowadays, there is a change in lifestyle with “many locals who used to stay in bungalows in Damansara Heights, now they choose to stay in luxury condominiums because they want the security.”

Chester Properties Sdn Bhd senior negotiator Nathali Tan adds that luxury condominiums are today considered high-class bungalows in the sky because of their size and exclusive features.

“These condominiums are spacious with built-ups of almost 4,000sf excluding space for pools, tennis courts, gyms and have private lift lobbies, very tight security, concierge services and are well maintained,” she adds.

Petronas, via KLCC Holdings Sdn Bhd is the developer of the entire KLCC Development, that is today’s Malaysia’s global landmark.

The KLCC masterplan includes the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, Suria KLCC, Mandarin Oriental, Traders Hotel, ExxonMobil, The Binjai On The Park and of course the Petronas Twin Towers.

The 88 storey Twin Towers designed by renowned world architect Cesar Pelli, has been the iconic skyline landmark of Malaysia since 1997.

Interestingly, The Binjai on the Park, developed by KLCC Holdings, is the only residential property within the KLCC development masterplan.

The design of The Binjai on The Park was to give residence of the condominium the most commanding views possible of the iconic Petronas Twin Tower.

That is why, the condominium was strategically placed diagonally across the towers on a corner lot of the KLCC Park.

“There are many condominiums around KLCC. But there is only one KLCC condominium, which is The Binjai on the Park,” says KLCC Group of Companies Group chief executive officer Hashim Wahir.

He says most international top class condominiums can only offer either city skyline views such as the apartments in The Peak, Hong Kong, or be part of an iconic development such as Burj Khalifa in Dubai or Roppongi Hills Residence in Tokyo or those overlooking sizeable parks such as Hyde Park in London or Central Park in Manhattan.

“From that perspective, The Binjai On The Park is the only one in the world that offers all these three. It has the most commanding views of the Petronas Twin Towers and is located right on the KLCC Park.

“We have a city within a city,” he says.

Hashim says there are more developments being developed under the KLCC masterplan over the next seven years.

“Cesar Pelli, the designer of the Twin Towers will be back in Malaysia to design two more towers which will forever change the skyline of KL.

“Malaysia is going to have two more iconic towers reshaping the KLCC skyline,” he says.

By The Star

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