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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Condos on the hills

The hills are alive: Damansara Foresta, a development by L&G, in Bandar Sri Damansara will focus on units ranging between 1,400 sq ft and 1,600 sq ft.

DAMANSARA Foresta, a project by Land & General Bhd (L&G), will mark the company's first residential project after a long hiatus on its old tuft. Located adjacent to the Bukit Lanjan Forest Reserve, Damansara Foresta comprises 42 acres of which only 50% will be developed.

The land was purchased decades ago before it was taken over by Hong Kong-based developer Tan Sri David Chiu several years ago.

The re-emergence of the company in Sri Damansara will, in all likelihood, bode well for the company which went through a very challenging period during the Asian financial crisis.

Under its new management headed by managing director Low Gay Teck, previously with the Mayland group, things seem to be moving for L&G again.

Unlike Mayland group, which focuses predominantly on studio units of about 500 sq ft in Sri Hartamas, L&G will take a different route.

Says Low: “Sri Damansara is very much a family community. This provided us the direction for Damansara Foresta, which will focus on sizes ranging between 1,400 sq ft and 1,600 sq ft.”

The salient point about Foresta is the contours of the land. About half of the 42 acres are class three and four slopes where development is not allowed to take place. Only class one and two slopes can be developed. Slopes are divided into four classes class one for slopes below 15 degrees, class two between 15 and 25 degrees, class three between 25 and 35 degrees and class four, above 35 degrees.

Says its marketing manager Lim Kok Yee: “It is a very beatiful piece of land and there are not much of greens left in the Klang Valley.”

The view from the top will be lovely and the company is leveraging on this. As for the class three and four slopes that we cannot build on, these will remain and be enhanced for the community's use.”

There will be a canopy bridge and hideaways dotting the “undeveloped” portion of the land.

Lim believes the pursuit of greenery whether landscaped or natural will portend well for the project.

Although the project is yet to be launched, the first two blocks comprising a total of 464 units are nearly fully sold.

The project was opened for sale early last month at RM500 to RM550 per sq ft. Due to popular demand, the second block was opened for sale the same month.

Lim says the project will be officially launched at the end of this month with sales starting for the third block. They are still working on the price. The first block was launched with units with a built-up of 1,400 sq ft priced at more than RM700,000. When completed, the project will have 928 units. The entire project, comprising four separate projects on that strip of land, will have a total of 2,700 units.

So far, buyers are predominantly upgraders from Sri Damansara, Desa ParkCity and Petaling Jaya who are attracted to the green factor. Damansara Foresta is also expected to add quite a bit of buzz into that established locality which has been around for about 20 years. It is a neighbourhood with lots of wide tree-lined roads but has seen little development the last 20 years. The most recent was 8trium, an office block also by L&G after the Mayland take-over. That office block will be completed in about three months.

TA Global Bhd, the property arm of TA Enterprise Bhd, is also developing Damansara Avenue which comprises serviced apartments and commercial office and retail blocks. While the acreage L&G's 42 acres versus TA Global's 48 acres are about the same, the similarity stops there. Damansara Foresta is a residential freehold development while Damansara Avenue will be on commercial land with retail and office elements with higher utilities and tax rates.

Damansara Foresta will be set apart from Damansara Avenue because of the green factor as it could only make use of half of its land for development purposes while Damanasara Avenue will be pretty much another integrated mixed development. Damansara Foresta is located 180 metres above sea level while TA Global's project fronts the Damansara-Puchong Highway (LDP). The elevated land will give Damansara Foresta a certain ambience that TA Global's project will not.

Access may be an issue in time to come, however. Although the developer has painted a pretty picture with accessibility via LDP, Middle Ring Road 2 (MRR2), New Klang Valley Expressway and Sprint Highway, traffic is very heavy on some of these roads with the LDP and the MRR2 being very congested during the peak hours.

New developments along the LDP will eventually feed into the already congested highway and surrounding infrastructure. Other than Damansara Foresta and Damansara Avenue, new and upcoming developments include the 25-acre Empire City project and three other projects by the Empire group in Damansara Perdana, several condominium projects by Perdana ParkCity Sdn Bhd and new developments in and around Sg Buloh.

Unless the government approves new infrastructure, the congestion along the LDP and surrounding roads and highways is expected to be tremendous.

By The Star

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