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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sunhor optimistic amid challenges

Soho style: Lim by a wall-sized artist impression of Tigaman Square. He says a predominantly industrial area would augur well for a retail outlet.

Sunhor Property Bhd group managing director C.T. Lim is ready to face challenges in his company's maiden commercial development in Bukit Kemuning, Shah Alam.

The bottom three levels feature retail units, followed by two levels of parking space, and one level of office suites with a Soho concept.

The “pull factor” will be the retail outlets, which Lim hopes will turn Tigaman Square into a trendy shopping spot and Bukit Kemuning into a vibrant business and social venue.

But sceptics doubt that the project will be able to woo tenants, given the profile of its immediate surroundings, which comprise mostly industrial lots and the lack of a strong population to support the retail portion of the development.

Lim, however, remains optimistic. He believes that the challenges the Tigaman Square development faces involve where the project's opportunities lie.

“People say that it's mainly an industrial area and that the population is not sufficient to support commercial development, especially for shopping or retail outlets,” Lim tells StarBizweek.

Citing a recent demographic study, Lim says the population within a 5km radius of the Tigaman Square development stood at 426,706 people in 2010 and is expected to grow to 626,311 by 2015. He says a population of 626,311 people matches that of Petaling Jaya, which has over 520,000 people currently.

“With a population of over 600,000 people (within a 5km radius of Tigaman Square), it should be able to support malls like in Petaling Jaya.”

There are those who argue that the PJ population is relatively more affluent, but Lim disagrees.

“Places like Kota Kemuning and Bukit Rimau are mature areas. There are houses there costing RM700,000, similar to those in PJ and Shah Alam.”

Lim also argues the fact that Bukit Kemuning, as a predominantly industrial area, would augur well for a retail outlet.

“An operator of an industrial lot would need to be more affluent than a shoplot operator. If an area is classified as an industrial area, there should be more affluent people there. And at this point, they don't have anywhere to go to spend their money,” Lim says, adding that Tigaman Square would be the only retail outlet of its kind within a 5km-10km radius.

Lim says the company is also banking on the lack of retail developments in the vicinity for the project's success.

He says the nearest retail or shopping outlets such as Plaza Alam Sentral or PKNS complex (Shah Alam), Jusco Bukit Tinggi (Klang) or The Summit (Subang Jaya) are all more than 5km away.

He adds that Tigaman Square will be easily accessible via major roads and highways like Lebuhraya Kemuning-Shah Alam and Kesas Highway.

The retail portion of Tigaman Square will comprise mostly food and beverage (F&B) outlets or between 35% and 40% of the total retail tenant mix, says Lim.

“With over 400 factories within the area, we also want to target factory workers who can come here and have their lunch,” he says.

Lim says a wide mix of F&B tenants will be chosen so that they would complement each other rather than compete with one another.

“About 20% of the total retail space has been taken up and will hit 90% by the time the project is completed.

Sunhor recently had a ground-breaking ceremony for the Tigaman Square development and the project is slated for completion by 2013.

“Most commercial projects take three years to complete but we want to build everything in two years,” says Lim.

Located on 7.69 acres of freehold land, Tigaman Square is expected to have a gross development value (GDV) of RM240mil.

“We expect it (GDV) to be more by the time the project is completed,” Lim says, adding that prices of its units are “competitive” compared to its nearest competitors.

“Our retail units are going for RM650 per sq ft while the office space is from RM375 per sq ft.”

The offices will be partly furnished by Signature Kitchen, a leading player for branded modular kitchens. Tigaman Square will also feature alfresco dining and roof gardens.

“We want to make it as vibrant as possible. At the end of the day, it's about keeping it interesting,” Lim says.

By The Star

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