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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Carving a gem from rocks

An artist’s impression of The Mansions @ ParkCity Heights.

The success of Desa ParkCity is certainly a case of opportunity coming to the one who is best prepared and on the lookout for it.

When the 473 acres of ex-quarry land in the vicinity of Bandar Menjalara, Kuala Lumpur was up for sale about a decade ago, there were no takers as it was deemed too rocky for development.

At around that time, Miri-based Samling Group was looking to venture into property development in Peninsular Malaysia and when the land was offered to the group, it did not hesitate to sign up.

Going by what had been achieved in the past nine years since the tractors started to roll in, the developer had certainly done an enviable job with the land.

What was once a rocky and hilly terrain had been turned into a thriving township and a highly sought-after address, Desa ParkCity, by Samling's property development arm Perdana ParkCity Sdn Bhd.

Perdana ParkCity group chief executive officer Lee Liam Chye, a property valuer, could see the immense hidden value of this seemingly unattractive land.

“Its rocky nature with a large reserve of granite rocks would incur much work and capital outlay to get it ready for development. Despite this, we could see the tremendous value in the land and envisioned a planned community township for it,” Lee reveals to StarBizWeek.

Lee says it took about six years of hard toil and much sweat ”where almost every sen earned was ploughed back to build up the infrastructure and public amenities right up to the nitty gritty details of choosing the right shady trees to create the safe and walkable tree-lined neighbourhoods.”

A gold mine

So far, some RM300mil had been spent and according to Lee, the result shows that all the hard work and every sen expended has been worth it.

The development has proven to be a huge gold mine to the developer.

Since the project took off in 2002, 13 phases comprising 2,061 houses have been built and 485 units are under construction. Of this, 2,498 units have been sold and the total gross development value (GDV) for these phases is estimated at RM2.5bil.

It will take eight more years for the whole development to be completed. By then, the township would have 7,000 mixed residential units comprising park homes, courtyard terraces, semi-detached houses, bungalows and condominiums for a population of 35,000.

Next year, the company will be unveiling a 43-acre town centre with 3 million sq ft of net commercial space and 1,000 condominiums. The project will take six years.

By the time it is completed, Desa ParkCity will command a total GDV of RM8bil.

Desa ParkCity is today home to one of the most expensive residential properties in the Klang Valley and possibly the country. Its property has registered compounded capital appreciation of between 50% to 150% since 2002 or about 10% to 25% a year.

In its latest launch of the 147 Casaman terrace houses the 13th phase of Desa ParkCity it once again set new price benchmark.

The intermediate terrace units of 3,100 sq ft fetched RM1.75mil or RM563 per sq ft, while corner units with land area of 3,800 sq ft and built-up of 3,300 sq ft exchanged hands for RM3.3mil. They were sold out within four hours.

The buyers were among the 800 hopefuls who turned up last June 26 for a balloting for the limited units.

The huge price appreciation in Desa ParkCity's property has resulted in remarks that a property bubble is dawning in the Klang Valley.

Lee is miffed by such remarks but remains optimistic that the premium price at Desa ParkCity will be sustainable.

“Of late, there has been much chatter about Desa ParkCity's property prices. People seem to think they have escalated too rapidly, particularly over the last four years and have reached a level that is unsustainable.

“I believe Desa ParkCity's house prices are sustainable. Aside from the recent addition of the private hospital and international school, we will begin to construct the RM1.5bil town centre next year and expect the project will have ripple effects on the property value in the township,” he adds.

Lee says there is no substitute for Desa ParkCity and buyers are willing to pay for the good location, holistic community concept, safe and secure environment, good facilities and landscaping, and easy accessibility.

“Our homes are grouped into 23 distinctive residential neighbourhoods that foster a sense of identity and belonging. Each neighbourhood has its own distinctive identity through the architecture and landscaping elements.

“Being gated and guarded with top-notch security, its quiet streets and overall community-centric concept is further enhanced by its unique concept the 9 ft wide shaded pedestrian walkways connecting all the neighbourhood which promotes walkability and foster good community spirits.”

He says there is everything at the doorstep waterfront food and beverage outlets dishing out a variety of cuisines, supermarket, hospital, schools, colleges, clubhouse and sports centre.

Best for last

In his words, Lee is “saving the best for last” and on May 14, the Mansions @ ParkCity Heights will be unveiled. It comprises 127 regal parkhomes of 2, 3 and 3 storeys with built-up of 4,376 sq ft to 7,218 sq ft.

The residences will be priced from RM2.7mil to RM4.6mil, or at RM650 per sq ft.

The 2-storey type has 31-foot wide frontage. The frontage for the 3 and 3 storey units is 33 ft and they will also be fitted with individual lifts.

The huge success of Desa ParkCity has spurred the group to look for other development opportunities. It made a foray into Vietnam last year.

In a 60:40 joint venture between Perdana ParkCity Pte Ltd and VinaconexHoang Thanh JSC, ParkCity Hanoi is a 77ha self-contained township and master-planned community featuring 7,500 housing units, a neighbourhood mall, international school and clubhouse.

The RM7bil project will take 10 years.

Locally, Lee also does not discount the possibility of replicating its success in other parts of the country.

“The land we are looking for has to be at least 300 acres and in an upper middle class neighbourhood. We may also consider a joint venture with the land owner if the right parcel comes along,” he says.

By The Star

Residential property leads in Klang Valley

The residential property sub-sector continued to spearhead the Klang Valley's market last year, making up 77.7% of the total volume of transactions in Kuala Lumpur and 76.8% of Selangor's property market volume.

According to the National Property Information Centre's (Napic) Property Market Report 2010 released on Wednesday, there were 376,583 property transactions worth RM107.44bil recorded nationwide last year.

Of this, Kuala Lumpur recorded 27,370 property transactions worth RM20.03bil, an increase of 8.1% and 45.3% over the transacted volume and value in the capital city from 2009.

Except for a 8.6% contraction in the development land sub-sector, transaction of the other property sub-sectors generally improved.

Commercial property recorded a 22.7% growth, industrial property grew by 9.2% and residential by 5.2%.

In Kuala Lumpur, condominiums and apartments made up the largest portion of residential transactions with a 51% share of the total volume.

Houses within the price range of RM250,000 to RM500,000, RM500,000 to RM1mil, and above RM1mil registered double digit growth of 15.4%, 37.4% and 56.6% respectively.

Prices of residential property continued to strengthen and strong demand for properties in established upmarket neighbourhoods drove up prices of double-storey terrace houses in Taman Tun Dr. Ismail, Bukit Bandaraya, Bangsar Baru and Desa Sri Hartamas by 4.7% to 14.1%.

Prices in these housing schemes breached the RM1mil mark while similar units in Damansara Heights and Taman Sri Hartamas stabilised at RM725,000 to RM800,000.

Condominium units in Mont'Kiara were still sought after as shown by a 3.1% increase in sales recorded and 11.1% increase in prices to RM355,000 for a Mont'Kiara Sophia unit to as high as RM2.73mil for a 10 Mont'Kiara residence.

Exceptions to this were units in Mont'Kiara Palma, Mont'Kiara Aman and Mont'Kiara Meridin which decreased by 2.9%, 2.7% and 3% respectively.

Rentals of residential property were generally stable with upward movements notably in the high-rise segment.

In the commercial sub-sector, shops which accounted for 1,130 units dominated with a 20.5% share.

A substantial number of transactions of commercial property, mainly of purpose-built office buildings, worth a total of RM1.45bil were recorded last year.

The retail sub-sector remained steady with an overall occupancy of 84.2%.

It registered one new entrant (21,697 sq m), one new start (77,484 sq m) and one new planned supply for 13,006 sq m during the year.

Kuala Lumpur's office sub-sector recorded an occupancy rate of 81.2%, a slight fall from 83.3% in 2009.

The leisure sub-sector saw three new hotel openings - Sentral Hotel, G Tower Hotel and YY 38 Hotel - offering a total of 394 rooms.

The overall occupancy rate for three- to five-star hotels was at 69.2% compared with 65.9% in 2009.

In Selangor, a total of 90,414 property transactions worth RM36.6bil were recorded, an increase of 10.4% in volume and 30.6% in value from 2009.

Several major deals worth RM429.18mil were concluded involving three shopping complexes, nine purpose-built office buildings, a private hospital and three estate land.

Prices of residential property in Selangor also saw major increases with single-storey terrace houses in Petaling Jaya transacted at RM190,000 to RM343,000.

Houses in Subang Jaya and Bandar Sri Damansara saw increases of 8.9% and 5.8% respectively, to between RM250,000 and RM300,000.

The self-contained neighbourhoods of Bandar Utama and Mutiara Damansara saw prices of their double-storey terrace houses appreciated by 4.6% to 9.8% to between RM618,000 and RM760,000 in Bandar Utama, and by 2.1% to RM1.24mil to RM1.26mil for houses with larger land area of 193 sq m in Mutiara Damansara.

Similar houses in other parts of Petaling Jaya such as SS2, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25 recorded increases of 5.1% to 11.9% to between RM400,000 and RM680,000.

The primary residential market recorded launches of 10,002 units, higher than 8,430 units launched in 2009.

Last year, Selangor saw a drop in the number of overhang residential units to 3,180 units worth RM691.28mil compared with 3,770 units worth RM608.3mil in 2009. Condominiums/apartments formed the bulk with 1,468 overhang units.

The performance of the office sub-sector moderated with the average occupancy rate of purposebuilt office buildings dropping to 76.9% from 78% previously.

There were two new office buildings - Philomath Resource Centre Building with 6,359 sq m in Gombak and Empire Tower with 18,936 sq m in Subang Jaya.

The opening of Empire Suite in Subang Jaya added 217 hotel rooms to the hospitality market.

The overall occupancy rate for three to five-star hotels in the state improved to 60.3% after staying below the 60% mark for the past two years.

By The Star

Jump in Penang property prices

The most significant feature in Penang's property market last year was the marked increase in prices in some established housing areas on the island, with single storey and double-storey terraced houses breaching the RM580,000 and RM800,000 respectively.

Double-digit price and rental hikes were noted throughout the state in established housing areas, the Valuation and Property Services Department says in its Property Market Report 2010.

The situation in Penang is a general reflection of the mood of the overall market in the country, with Putrajaya recording a two-fold increase in the volume from 170 units in 2009 to 337 units last year. In ringgit terms, Putrajaya sales saw a three-fold increase from RM88mil to RM375mil. It should be noted that Putrajaya is beginning from a low base, being a relatively new area.

Klang Valley prices and volume of transactions were also robust last year. The only state which experienced a soft market was Labuan, while Malacca saw very marginal growth.

Going back to the situation in Penang, as with other states, the residential sub-sector dominated market activity, capturing 70.2% of the market share, followed by commercial sub-sector with a distant 11.9% share of the market. While agricultural and industrial sub-sectors enjoyed growth, it was the residential sector that saw major movements last year.

On the island, single storey terraced houses in Green Garden recorded an increase of 16.5%, ranging from RM455,000 to RM550,000. Similar houses in Jalan Van Praagh were transacted at a higher range of RM530,000 to RM580,000. Bandar Bayan Baru saw both its single and double-storey terraces charting gains of 16.1% and 20.2% to record RM275,000 to RM340,000 and RM403,500 to RM490,000 respectively.

According to the report, its proximity to Sunshine Square shopping complex, Suntech@Penang Cybercity office blocks and being adjacent to Penang International Sports Arena gave it the extra edge.

Other locations which had notable increases were in Taman Sri Nibong, Taman Sri Mewah and Taman Sunway Banyan. Houses in Taman Sunway Banyan went as high as RM750,000. Other popular areas were Island Glades and Island Park, recording sales between RM560,000 and RM800,000 for its residential units.

In Seberang Perai on the mainland, prices of landed residential units also recorded positive movements, particularly Taman Bertam Perdana (B), Bandar Putra Bertam. It should be noted that prices in Seberang Perai Utama are also gradually moving up.

While landed units recorded a general trend of double-digit growth, high rise residential units are not to be left out. Prices of upscale condominium by the beach increased by 3.6% to as high as 22.2% in Sri Pantai/Gurney Beach Resort Condominium.

In the rental market, growth was recorded in Green Garden and Taman Lip Sin, with rental rates seeing an increase of 12.5% and 11.1% respectively. In the high rise segment, rental growth also saw an uptrend. Two-bedroom flats in MaCallum Streets and three-bedroom flats in Mutiara Heights, and George Town city centre recorded 9.4% and 9.1% increases respectively. Prices of shops were stable with isolated increases noted in choice locations. Since the inscription of George Town as a World heritage Site by Unesco in 2008, the number and value of pre-war shops' transactions have increased. Institutional buyers have been actively buying up commercial lands in George Town.

Overall, Penang enjoyed a total of 25,986 transactions worth RM9.37bil last year, an increase of 14% in volume and 43.5% in value against 2009 (22,724 transcations worth RM6.53bil). It was one of several top performing states both in terms of value and transactions.

By The Star (by Thean Lee Cheng)

Attraction of average-size residential, shopping projects

The built environment in the Klang Valley, Penang and other parts of the country is poised for major changes going by the ambitious infrastructure and development projects that have been planned to boost the liveability and growth potential of our major cities.

Projects such as the mass rapid transit in the Klang Valley and the light rail transit and monorail projects in Penang will certainly herald many new changes in the property landscape.

These infrastructure projects will undoubtedly spawn opportunities for other types of development such as housing, office buildings, shopping malls, industrial parks and public facilities.

With all the big plans under way, there may be a tendency to pay too much attention on building mega buildings and structures, and neglect the basic, simple needs and necessities of the common folks.

Many Klang Valley folks consider it unnecessary to spend too much resources on gigantic structures and projects just to add to the city’s skyline.

In fact, the debate on whether there is a need to build the 100-storey Warisan Merdeka tower in the vicinity of Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur, is still on.

Personally, I believe there are many worthwhile projects that can be pursued, such as cultural and art centres that should be planned based on traditional architecture and using local and indigenous designs and materials. They present opportunities to liven up our cities with more holistic activities and showcase the rich local culture and heritage to visitors.

So it makes sense to incorporate Malaysia’s multi-culture and multi-ethnic heritage into the new commercial projects in our major cities.

We must remember that foreign visitors and tourists to the country are here to savour and experience the living heritage of the people in our cities, towns and villages, instead of gazing at the skyscrapers and concrete jungle which they can find in their own countries. In many ways, what they hope to experience is the simple, yet rich and original way of life of the local people.

Likewise, new residential projects should also look into the basic needs of potential buyers and should be functional instead of over-emphasising the aesthetics. There is a growing number of people who want to live in the city centre but find the prices of the property way beyond their reach.

There should be more effort to build smaller “starter” units in the urban conurbations in order to attract and retain young talent and workforce in cities, particularly Kuala Lumpur.

A review of planning laws and incentives should be considered to encourage developers to build more such entry-level properties for first-time homeowners.

These developments can be integrated with some nice lifestyle food and beverage outlets and retail centres.

Since a number of condominium projects have yet to be fully sold or occupied, perhaps the developers can look at redesigning the layout plans and turn some of the overly spacious units to smaller homes.

Developers of such starter homes have reported brisk sales and there is still a long waiting list for these smaller residences.

In fact, there is also tremendous opportunity to further liven up the Klang Valley’s retail landscape with more average size lifestyle outlets and centres.

The plan to link major retail destinations in Kuala Lumpur’s main shopping hub will help promote the city as a favourite shopping destination.

Walking around shopping malls that are well spaced out, safe and not overcrowded has proven to be therapeutic and relaxing.

It is not only the fairer gender who are taking to shopping as a favourite past-time but their male counterparts have also caught up with this habit. Whether it is to look for something to buy or just taking a stroll, shopping complexes have become favourite haunts for many Klang Valley folks.

The scorching sun has made walking a chore these days and setting up shaded pedestrian walkways in major shopping streets will do well to promote the city’s shopping potential.

Deputy news editor Angie Ng knows that in many ways, simplicity and originality is highly desirable as far as living environment is concerned.

By The Star (by Angie Ng)

YTL Corp bullish on growth prospects

SINGAPORE: YTL Corp Bhd sees good growth for the company despite the challenging global economic environment.

"We have just announced profits this year," said YTL Singapore Pte Ltd executive director, Ruth Yeoh Pei Cheen

"It will continue to perform good business," she told Bernama in an interview here recently.

YTL Corp Bhd recently announced a 13.3 per cent growth in revenue to RM8.905 billion for the six months ended Dec 31, 2010 compared with RM7.857 billion in the previous corresponding period ended Dec 31, 2009.

The group’s utilities comprise power generation and transmission in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia, water and sewerage services in the United Kingdom, merchant multi-utility businesses in Singapore and communications in Malaysia.

Yeoh said the company also took to ensuring that all its businesses strived to preserve the environment. The companies have to send the sustainability report every year, she added.

When asked on new projects, the Director of International Real Estate of YTL Singapore, Kemmy Tan said the group was looking to develop its projects in Malaysia.

"We also bought the 460-hectare Niseko Village in Hokaido last year."

YTL Group Managing Director Tan Sri Dr Francis Yeoh Sock Ping had announced YTL's master plan to re-energise the development of Niseko Village in Hokaido.

Targeting affluent individuals, Niseko Village will be transformed into an all-season mountain resort offering exclusive hotels, luxury homes, ski-in ski-out estates and exclusive shopping and dining, all with spectacular views of Mount Yotei (Ezo Fuji, the Mount Fuji of northern Japan).

Tan said the project is being managed by Singapore office.

In time to come, Tan said two projects in Singapore namely Sentosa Cove and the land in Orchard Boulevard will be streamlined into YTL Land.

The Japanese assets were acquired for about US$66 million while the Singapore project cost S$575 million, she disclosed.

The project in Singapore is in the planning stage and the launch could be probably next year.

By Bernama

Bid to block sale of Putra Place to SunREIT

Two individuals, Robert Ti and Indonesian Kornelis Kurniadi, are trying to block the sale of Putra Place to Sunway Real Estate Investment Trusts (SunREIT).

They are taking legal action against OSK Trustees Bhd and SunREIT. Ti and Kurniadi have also named Commerce International Merchant Bankers Bhd and Deputy Registrar.

The plaintiffs are seeking an injunction to restrain OSK and SunREIT from completing the sale.

On March 31, OSK Trustees, on behalf of SunREIT, was announced the winning bidder for Putra Place at RM513.95 million.

SunREIT told Bursa Malaysia that it completed the purchase of the property on April 19 and the title has passed to OSK Trustees and the balance purchase price has also been settled.

The matter is expected to be heard next week.

By Business Times