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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bringing condo living to Perak

Artist’s impression of The Haven Lakeside Residences in Tambun, Perak.

It takes a foreigner to help us appreciate what is available in our backyard. It also takes the can-do spirit of Australian Peter Chan to do the unthinkable.

The limestone rocks and hills around Ipoh have so enchanted the co-principal of Superboom Projects Sdn Bhd that he is building three blocks of luxurious condominiums The Haven Lakeside Residences in Tambun, 15 minutes' drive out of Ipoh.

Peter Chan ... ‘This is a little Guilin.’

“This is a little Guilin,” says the CEO of Superboom Projects, referring to China's famed holiday destination Guilin. “Limestone hills and formation are unique. They do not happen just anywhere and The Haven is surrounded by them.”

The area that Chan has set his sight on forms part of the Malaysian Main Range, which stretches from southern Thailand to Johor. Limestones have today become synonymous with Ipoh, just as the Melawati Range is synonymous with Taman Melawati, Kuala Lumpur which also is part of the Main Range.

Leveraging on the green factor and old money looking for new lifestyles, Chan will be building what will be Ipoh's most luxurious condominium priced from RM330,000 to RM2mil a unit. It will also be the tallest building in and around Ipoh. The tallest building is Tower Regency, a 20-storey hotel in Ipoh. The project is expected to set a new benchmark for the Perak property market.

“Property prices move up quite a bit in the Klang Valley and Penang but there is this perception that it should be low here (Ipoh). It is just that there is little population growth here. The young people keep leaving home to seek work in Kuala Lumpur and Penang. So, when there is no population growth, there is no demand. But environmentally, Ipoh is an ideal place to retire in. The cost of living is not as high as in Kuala Lumpur or Penang,” he says, adding that there are several hospitals and a supermarket chain within a short drive of the project.

For years, developers in Perak have concentrated on building double-storey terraced and semi-detached houses. Because of the abundance of land, the idea of building luxurious high-rise condominiums did not figure.

Chan looks at the market demand with new lenses. There are many empty nesters in and around Ipoh, with a population of about 800,000. Increasingly, security has become an issue. There is no room today for a five- or six-room house, unless two or more generations stay together, he says.

His target audience is the retirees' market in and around Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. The other market segments are those in search of a holiday home.

“Ipoh is a quiet and serene place to retire and to holiday in. Penang and Malacca are oversold but little is known about Ipoh. I would like to change that,” he says.

He is offering 11 layouts with built-ups ranging from 1,000-3,000 sq ft. Although there are about 500 condominium units, Chan is offering about 300 covered car parks in a three-storey parking podium with lifts. There will be two separate covered parking facilities with additional bays on ground level.

Chan does not expect full occupancy all year around. Hence, he is working with Best Western Hotels group, one of the world's largest hotel chain to manage, market and lease out some of the properties. Maintenance charges for the first 1,000 sq ft is 22 sen, the second and third 1,000 sq ft at 16 sen and 12 sen per sq ft.

On the issue of the terrain housing the three 26-storey blocks, Chan said the site has been tested by three independent engineering companies working on structure and foundation. Prof Bernard Pierson, the Shell chair for Geosciences at Universiti Teknologi Petronas was reported to have vouched for the safety of the residences.

This will be Chan's third project. His previous two projects are double-storey terraced housing at Subang Galaxy in Subang 2, Selangor and Permai Lake View Apartments, located adjacent to the 14-acre Haven site. Chan completed the apartments in 2006. Fronting the Permai Lake View apartments later on will be about 30 shops. The concept to build the condominiums came in 2008.

The three blocks will be sited around a 4-acre lake on the foothills of the Main Range, where a 14-storey limestone rock stands. Chan's 14-acre site, inclusive of the lake, is adjacent to Sunway's plot of land which includes a hill. On the other side of the hill is Perak's famed spa resort, The Banjaran.

“Things are moving in Perak. It is just that this place has long been overlooked, with Penang and Malacca oversold as a retiree's home and a retreat,” he says.

The project, with a gross development value of RM250mil, is being constructed by Bina Puri Holdings Bhd and Beijing Construction Engineering (M) Sdn Bhd, two top contractors in Malaysia and China respectively. The leasehold project is expected to be completed in 2013.

By The Star

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