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Saturday, July 16, 2011

TTDI’s future landmarks

New landmark: Kuok standing in front of a model of The Greens condominiums. He says The Greens is on ‘one of the last remaining landbanks you can get in TTDI.’

The Greens luxury condominiums and Menara LGB will add to the TTDI skyline

Within the next three years, the prestigious Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) neighbourhood in Kuala Lumpur will have new high rise landmarks in the form of The Greens luxury condominiums and Menara LGB.

Both are maiden flagship and freehold projects by Bellworth Developments Sdn Bhd, the property development arm of the LGB Group.

The Greens is a 165-unit residential development housed in two 27-storey blocks while Menara LGB is a 31-storey Grade “A” office tower.

Each development is on separate 1.8-acre sites along Jalan Wan Kadir 3. The gross development value (GDV) of The Greens and Menara LGB is RM310mil and RM390mil respectively.

The Greens

Bellworth Developments Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Kevin Kuok says “The Greens was named for the fact that it offers spectacular views of over 900 acres of lush greenery encompassing Bukit Kiara hills and forest reserves, Bukit Kiara Park, Bukit Kiara Equestrian Club, Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club, Kelab Golf Perkhidmatan Awam Malaysia and Royal Selangor Club” all set against the backdrop of the iconic Petronas Twin Towers and KL city skyline.

Designed by BEP Akitek Sdn Bhd, The Greens offers five layout types with 2+1, 3+1 and 4+1 bedroom units, and sizes ranging from 1,442 to 3,823 sq ft.

Block A of The Greens has three units per floor while Block B has five units per floor.

However, Kuok says only 60% of the units will have views of the greenery.

“The remainder, which are units sized 1,680 sq ft and below, will have views of One World Hotel and Bandar Utama. Some units will look at Section 16, Petaling Jaya and Damansara Kim.”

“This is one of the last remaining landbanks you can get in TTDI. That is why we decided on a sustainable luxury residential development targeted at professionals, corporate executives, those seeking mid to larger sized units for multi-generational living as well as current TTDI residents who are looking to upgrade into a secure vertical community,” says Kuok.

He points out that all bedrooms (except the utility room) come with split unit air-conditioning while selected units will have ducted air-conditioning system to the living, dining and dry kitchen.

The dry kitchens will be equipped with full cabinetry and electrical appliances such as cooker hood, hob, microwave and convection ovens. Hot water will be provided in the kitchens and all bathrooms.

Also, all units will be fitted and finished with imported marble in the living and dining areas, and the master bathroom and dry kitchen, while solid timber floorings are installed in all bedrooms and the family area.

The Greens will also be equipped with a security system, connecting audio intercoms between each unit and the guardhouse, with multi-stage flash card access at guard house, car park, main lobby, and lifts as well as CCTV coverage of the perimeter fencing, main entrance, lift lobbies and carparks.

According to Kuok, an auxiliary retail space of about 20,000 sq ft will be set aside for food and beverage outlets at The Greens.

Five levels of car park areas will be built, with more than 500 bays with separate entrances for the residents and the public for enhanced security.

Kuok says units sized from 1,442 to 2,426 sq ft will come with two car park bays while larger units will come with three bays.

Pricing for The Greens will be an average of RM700 per sq ft onwards. It is likely to be launched at the end of the third quarter of this year, and be completed in the fourth quarter of 2014. The Greens will also be compliant with Malaysia's Green Building Index (GBI), according to Kuok.

Menara LGB

The LGB group will occupy about 30% of Menara LGB, which has a gross floor area of 561,570 sq ft and net floor area of 414,119 sq ft.

“The balance will be leased out. We are targeting local and multinational companies who are looking to operate in a Grade A office environment,” says Kuok.

Estimated lease rates are in the region of RM5.50 to RM6 per sq ft.

The tower is designed to comply with the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) Cybercentre status, Singapore's Building & Construction Authority (BCA) Green Mark (Gold Accreditation) and Malaysia's GBI.

It is aimed at being an ecological workplace by reducing energy use and water consumption.

Kuok says a Grade A building is defined by its technology and design.

According to him, Menara LGB will be one of the few buildings in the Klang Valley equipped with a chilled water storage tank, housed at the basement level, to cool the building.

Designed by Hijjas Kasturi Associates Sdn Bhd, Menara LGB will feature a distinctive modern contemporary facade wrapped in aluminium and “Low E” laminated glazing.

The building will have infrastructure that supports dual power feed and a multiple telecommunication service environment equipped with high speed bandwidth and CAT6E cables for data communication.

In addition, Menara LGB will also feature an intelligent building management system to control, monitor and optimise services such as lighting, fire protection, air-conditioning, security, closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance and alarm system, ventilation, filtration and climate-control ventilation.

Also, over 80% of its site area will be allocated to hard and soft landscaping with open public spaces.

Amenities and facilities will include a gym, bank, bistros and cafes, a food court and about 710 car park bays.

Work on the tower commenced in January 2009, and it is due to be completed by the first quarter of 2013.

Upcoming projects

There are plans by Bellworth to redevelop its 1.05-acre Lancer Square property in London into a sustainable luxury mixed use development comprising retail, office and residential components.

Kuok points out that Lancer Square is located at one of the United Kingdom's most affluent and prestigious residential addresess. Lancer Square, which benefits from being just north of Kensington High Street, is bordered to the north by Notting Hill, to the east by Knightsbridge, to the south by Chelsea and also the open spaces of Hyde Park and Kensington Palace Gardens, otherwise known as “Millionaires' Row”.

Currently, notable tenants in Lancer Square include Warner Music UK, Jimmy Choo, Eden McCullum, Starbucks and Costa Coffee.

“Lancer Square is currently undergoing planning approvals to double its existing net usable area from 80,000 sq ft to 160,000 sq ft,” says Kuok.

The property is expected to generate a GDV of 300mil or RM1.5bil over the next three years. Kuok says the group expects to launch the re-development sometime after the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Meanwhile, Bellworth Developments also has plans for a 400-acre mixed township in the Hang Tuah Jaya district in Malacca. “We will be building about 1,800 units of landed residential and commercial properties. There are no plans for high-rise projects here at the moment.”

The planned township is located close to three golf courses, namely the Tiara, Air Keroh and Orna Golf & Country Clubs. Residential units will consist of super-link, semi-detached and bungalow houses in more than 10 gated and guarded precincts. Planned amenities include a central park, a residents' clubhouse, commercial centre, medical centre, education institution and a hotel.

According to Kuok, the first phase of the township is due to be launched in the third quarter of 2012. The township, which has a GDV of RM1bil, has a 10-year development programme.

Bellworth Developments, formed in 2007, is the property development arm of the LGB group, which specialises in the water, environment and infrastructure sector, and has businesses across South-East Asia.

The LGB Group has also operations in highway management, construction and engineering, as well as steel and industrial products. Taliworks Corp Bhd and Grand Saga Sdn Bhd, the toll concessionaire for the Cheras-Kajang Highway, are part of the LGB Group.

“We are expanding and actively looking to increase our landbank throughout the Klang Valley,” says Kuok.

Meanwhile, CB Richard Ellis (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd executive director Paul Khong says the residential market in TTDI has been performing very well especially in the high end segment for the last 18 to 24 months.

“The capital values have been on an upward trend and we have seen increases of 15 to 20% per annum and in some cases more. With the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) stopping by TTDI in the future, we expect to see further premiums especially when actual physical works for the MRT starts on site.”

Khong points out that The Greens is a new generation of condominiums embracing the green concept.

He says that at an estimated average price of RM700 per sq ft onwards, it comes closely in line with market rates for such offerings.

“We expect The Greens to do well, looking at the limited number of units to be offered.”

Khong notes that in order to comply with the GBI Gold status, this would cost a developer at least 15% to 20% more in terms of construction cost (compared with a “normal” building) and therefore, translates to higher pricing.

“With a prominent main road frontage and the new MRT nearby, Menara LGB should fall in place really well. We expect the rental price to exceed RM5 per sq ft upon its completion.”

By The Star

More green buildings needed

Green city: To become a world class city, Kuala Lumpur must also be sustainable. One way of doing that is by building and designing buildings with minimal environmental degradation, in other words, building green buildings.

Building by-laws should compel developers to provide green features in their projects

While green solutions have long been adapted by property industry practitioners in the United States, Europe and Australia, it is still at an early stage in Malaysia.

According to the Eastern Regional Organisation for Planning and Human Settlement (EAROPH) Malaysia honorary secretary, S Thirilogachandran, although there are lots of initiatives and programmes to promote greater green awareness and practices locally, there is still a need for more practical solutions to be adapted among the property development fraternity.

Building by-laws or other building legislation need to be made mandatory for developers to provide green features in their developments.

He says the Government should also come out with more incentives and policies to encourage more developers to adopt green solutions.

“The Government through the Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry is also looking into promoting green practices by providing guidelines, framework and the policies.

“Initiatives such as offering tax benefit for green solutions in buildings are also in place. Soon, certain green requirements to be incorporated in buildings will be made mandatory by law. But there is still a lot to be done,” Thirilogachandran explains.

He says the number of green buildings and green neighbourhoods in the country is still very small, and hopefully in the next five years more green buildings and townships (that are under planning) will be completed by then.

Thirilogachandran says following the launch of the Green Building Index (GBI) in 2009 to rate green buildings, there is now greater awareness on green solutions among developers in the country and more developers are taking initiatives to adapt green practices and solutions in their developments.

To date GBI tools for buildings, townships and industrial projects have been launched, and the next to be launched will be for residential projects.

Some local authorities have made certain mandatory green requirements for approval of building plans and some have taken the initiative to green the cities under their purview. CB Richard Ellis (Malaysia) vice-president of research, Nabeel Hussain says industry practitioners have a responsibility to adopt sustainable building practices and related technologies in order to play a proactive role in climate change mitigation.

“Malaysia's introduction of its own green rating system, the Green Building Index (GBI) in 2009, and the Government's support for the drive towards green buildings and technology should be a good start,” he says.

Thirilogachandran says in Asia, Japan has taken big initiatives in going green and to reduce its carbon foot print.

The Japanese have also taken initiatives in greening their existing buildings in a big way.

More countries are adapting green solutions in property development, including Singapore's Green Mark Rating and Australia's Green Star rating that has been in existence for more than a decade now.

Meanwhile, the larger economies like China and India, and other emerging economies like Vietnam and the Middle East are also catching up and have taken initiatives to incorporate green solutions in developments.

To raise greater awareness and promote green solutions in the local real estate and housing development industry, a conference on “Green Solutions for Property Development 2011 Greener Cities” will be held on July 28.

It is jointly organised by Rehda Institute and EAROPH Malaysia Chapter.

Thirilogachandran, who is the chairman of the organizing committee, says the conference will showcase latest developments on green solutions in different areas related to property development.

The aim of the conference is to demonstrate that green is a feasible alternative in today's highly competitive market environment through tested, practical and profitable methods.

He says the theme “Greener Cities” was chosen this year to address the green solutions for cities, townships and in the context of neighbourhoods rather than just addressing the solutions for a building or units within a building or a particular site.

It will cover aspects of planning and design, lifestyle, government policies and initiative, telecommunication, green townships tools, low carbon city framework, facilities and assets management and other green solutions for greener cities.

By The Star

Meeting buyers’ increasing needs and wants

The bachelor or a newly-married couple just starting out in life are more likely to opt for an apartment with additional facilities.

BUYING a home is a big investment for the vast majority of us. So most of us agonise over it for a long time before making the investment.

We want the best for the money we pay, especially when we have to part with a lot of it. We expect to receive value for money. In fact, some of us expect to receive more than what we pay for, but that's only human.

And our expectations have risen steadily over the years, mainly influenced by prevailing conditions, changing trends and, in no small way, what we see and experience elsewhere around the world.

There was a time when providing a roof over our heads was the primary and perhaps only consideration when we purchased a home. What came inside was secondary.

Drop in at one of those houses built in the 1970s or 1980s and you will probably find only one bathroom, to be shared by the entire family and their guests. Metal grills for the doors, windows and a fence around the house were all the security you could expect to get.

Life had other considerations then, and security was not such a big issue. Today, a developer sets himself apart by the extras he can offer home purchasers as much as the location, price and quality of his project.

So what do buyers expect of developers today? For the most part, security has gained the highest consideration. Everybody wants to feel safe. In response to this need, gated communities with provision for tight security have sprung up.

The guard post has also become part and parcel of any high-rise development today. In high-rise projects, there is the addition of a secured lift access card a facility that has become basic.

Once the project has been completed and the keys handed over to the purchasers, the developer is expected to organise the security detail and maintenance services until the Joint Management Board (JMB) is formed, which takes place within a year. The responsibility is then handed over to the JMB.

Beyond that, there are other considerations. Lifestyle facilities such as a clubhouse, swimming pool or gymnasium are now a must. The more affluent the purchasers, the higher their demands.

Apart from the swimming pool and gymnasium, purchasers now also expect a function room, a yoga or pilates room, and a children's playroom.

Wireless Internet access, a barbecue pit, jogging tracks, laundry service and a convenience store are important. Jacuzzi, tennis court and sauna are plus points.

A purchaser's choice of property to buy is also influenced by his status in life. The bachelor or a newly-married couple just starting out in life are more likely to opt for an apartment with additional facilities such as a rooftop lounge.

A couple with young children is more likely to opt for landed property that comes with some garden space for play. High-rise projects with large open recreational spaces built in also appeal to such buyers.

Buyers who have aged parents living with them will opt for more “user-friendly” homes where there are not too many levels to climb up or down, and where at least one room is at the same level as the kitchen and living area for the old folks' easy access.

The size of a property one buys is, of course, influenced as much by the price as the size of his family.

Logically, a large family, especially with three generations living together, will need more room, while a young couple will opt for a smaller unit that is more affordable. Room must also be made available for the domestic maid who is now a must for every Malaysian family.

Having said that, one can safely assume that an apartment with about 2,000 sq ft and three-plus-one bedrooms is about right for the average Malaysian family. The “plus-one” bedroom is presumably for the domestic help.

The buyer of a landed property would most likely expect four or five bedrooms. Whether apartment or landed property, buyers now expect a bathroom attached to each and every bedroom.

Now that we have the basic structure of four walls and a roof, with the requisite number of rooms and the facilities taken care of, what else do buyers want?

In most families today, both the husband and wife work. So there is little time left to worry about getting the little things for a new home.

In light of that, developers are beginning to throw in at least the basic appliances and built-ins to help ease the buyer and his family into their new home.

Many developers now provide as basic items such as built-in wardrobe and kitchen cabinets. Also being given as part of a package now are air-conditioners and water heaters.

Going green is also becoming quite trendy, with a number of buyers inquiring about environment-friendly designs. Some developers have taken the initiative to design homes that, for instance, let in more natural light so that there is less of a need to switch on the lights.

High ceiling and large windows that make the interior more airy also help to reduce the use of the fan or air-conditioning, all of which also help to cut energy costs, which is a bonus for purchasers.

As expectations increase, developers have to become more creative and innovative. At the same time, such extras do come at a price and in the end, some of it has to be passed on to the buyer.

Having said all that, there are some who do not even bother to look at the floor plan or want to know what facilities are available before placing an order for several units at the same time. These are the hardcore property investors and theirs is another story.

Teh Lip Kim is the MD of SDB Properties Sdn Bhd, a lifestyle property company. Bouquets and brickbats are welcome at

By The Star (by TEH LIP KIM)

CLSA downgrades property sector rating

PETALING JAYA: CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets has downgraded the property sector rating to neutral from overweight in view of the mixed signals from transaction volumes and the growth rate of residential loan approval.

Basically the CLSA has turned cautious on the outlook of the property market based on some negative and positive signals that have fogged the market direction going forward.

Based on Kuala Lumpur Property Index (KLPRP) against year-on-year (y-o-y) growth of residential loan approval for each quarter, CLSA saw a positive correlation for the period 2003 till second quarter of 2009.

“But, such relationship seemed to have broken down since then, as the continued surge of residential loan approval till the fourth quarter of 2009 was not reflected in the performance of the KLPRP index.

“KLPRP index remained subdued till second quarter of last year, before rising at 40% to the current level,” said CLSA in a property sector report yesterday.

CLSA believed this could be a delayed reaction to the surge of loan approval as market might be sceptical with the economy recovery from the unprecedented global economic crisis.

“If this was the case, it could possibly mean that the market could potentially react to the declining growth rate of the loan approval, which is signalling to us of potential downward trajectory of KLPRP index,” it said.

On the bright side, CLSA highlighted that the Malaysian property index had outperformed the KLCI index in 2010 and first half of this year by 11.3% and 3.8% respectively.

“This is supported by consistent y-o-y house price growth of 6% to 8% in each quarter since since fourth quarter of 2009, for a consecutive of six quarters.

“It is important to note that we have not witnessed such persistent strong growth in price in the last 10 years, and such price trend did explain the outperformance of the KLPRP index,” it said.

Although still in proposal stage, CLSA also touched on the potential change in government policy which was studying the possibility of computing household loans based on net income rather than gross income.

“But, the impact of the proposed change is more significant for the higher income group due to higher marginal tax rate.

“For example, a person who can previously afford to buy a residential property that is worth RM1mil, would only be able to afford a property that is 20% lower value at RM800,000 with the proposed change,” it said.

Nevertheless, CLSA said it was important to note that only 2% of the total transaction volumes carried out in 2010 was related to property value higher than RM1mil.

“The bulk of the transactions still related to property valued at less than RM200,000, which accounted for 70% of total transactions in 2010,” it said.

By The Star