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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Berjaya Land-mark on S. Korea's treasure island

RESORT CITY IN JEJU : Joint-venture project has gross development value of US$3.2b

BERJAYA Land Bhd's (BLand) landmark Berjaya Jeju Airest City project in Jeju is expected to further boost not only the company's footprint in South Korea but also the island's future as a prime tourist attraction.

"Jeju Island is a hidden treasure. It has high potential of growth thanks to its strategic location and clean environment. Our team at Berjaya is committed to ensuring the success of the Berjaya Jeju Airest City resort project," said BLand chief executive officer Datuk Francis Ng Sooi Lin at the launch of the Berjaya Jeju Airest City Promotion Centre at the Boutique Monaco Museum, Gangnam, here, yesterday.

Also present were Jeju Free International City Development (JDC) chairman Byon Jong Il, Jeju Special Self-Governing Province Investment Inducement Department director Moon Young Bang, media representatives from Malaysia and South Korea and more than 100 guests.

Berjaya Jeju Resort (BJR) is a joint venture that has been formed to oversee the Berjaya Jeju Airest City project, which has a gross development cost of around US$2.4 billion (RM7.32 billion) and a total gross development value of US$3.2 billion.

BJR is 72.6 per cent owned by BLand with the remaining held by Jeju Free International City Development (JDC), a government agency, at 19 per cent and Swan Street Partner LLP at 8.4 per cent.

So far, BLand has invested about US$140 million in the project, which is one of the largest foreign direct investments in South Korea's tourism industry.

The 74.4ha Berjaya Jeju Airest City is an integrated resort located by the coastline of Yerae-dong, Seogwipo City on Jeju Province.

Once completed, the site will boast of a 45-storey Landmark Tower, a casino hotel, a massive retail and shopping mall, a medical centre and entertainment and sports facilities.

Infrastructure works at the entire site have been completed, with Phase One of the project, the Gotjawal Village, set to begin by year-end.

The Gotjawal Village, which will cost US$250 million, comprises a 230-key five-star hotel, the upscale Seaside Maison and the Market Walk.

Seaside Maison will have 51 units of villa-type condominiums while Market Walk will have 96 units of low-rise commercial and residential condominiums.

At almost US$1,000 psf and sizes of up to 3,000 sq f each, they may well be some of the most expensive but exclusive real estates in the country.

"Gotjawal Village is located on the 'best stretch' of the Berjaya Jeju Airest City. Therefore, we are very confident of achieving a 25 per cent minimum return on our investment once it is completed," said Ng during a visit to the site of the Berjaya Jeju Airest City in Jeju on Thursday.

"We have received many enquiries regarding those units. Some of the designs are eccentric but this is apparently what the buyers wanted, especially those from Seoul," said Ng.

"We can't start selling the units yet until we have completed at least 20 per cent of the sub-structures of the Gotjawal Village, and I estimate that is in about three to four months from now.

"Also, as a further incentive, those who buy properties in Jeju will be granted a five-year visa and, after that, permanent residence status for themselves and their immediate family members," Ng added.

BLand senior general manager of properties marketing Mah Siew Wan said the company has conducted indepth studies as to why people would want to come to Jeju and what it has to offer.

"The result is that the people want something different," she said. "And we are giving them something different and unique."

The Gotjawal Village is the first of up to eight phases of the the Berjaya Jeju Airest City project, which also include plans for a medical centre, a shopping mall, a casino, a five-star resort hotel and the 45-storey Landmark Tower, the tallest building on Jeju Island once it is completed.

On the next step after the Gotjawal Village, Ng said BLand plans to develop either the casino hotel or the medical centre.

The Berjaya Jeju Airest City project is expected to generate almost 4,000 jobs upon completion within the next five years.

And this will be good news for the JDC, too, for it has been tasked with bringing development to the island and improving the livelihood of its population of 565,000 people.

Its investment strategy department director, C.M. Lee, said plans are afoot to bring the size of the population up to one million within the next five years.

As part of that initiative to develop the Jeju Free International City, the "special corporation" has implemented six strategies that called for the creation of a global education city, a healthcare town, a science park, a Myth & History Theme Park, a tourism port and a residence resort complex, of which the Berjaya Jeju Airest City is part of.

"We have attracted the North London Collegiate School and the Branksome Hall of Toronto to set up branches here. We are also in the midst of setting up a hospital offering quality services, including plastic surgery, which South Korea is famous for," he said with a laugh.

A science park that is tailored after the Multimedia Super Corridor in Malaysia has also been set up with the vision of utilising local biodiversity and green resources to foster knowledge-based industries.

The number of tourist arrivals have been on a steady increase over the past decade, especially those from Southeast Asia. JDC is confident that with the various available incentives, more tourists and foreign investors will flock here.

And this certainly bodes well for BLand's massive endeavour on Jeju Island.

By Business Times

More high-end housing being built in Cyberjaya

Some of the completed houses in the SummerGlade project.

There may be more high-end contemporary landed units in Cyberjaya going forward as more developers move into this segment of the property market.

Cyberjaya, conceptualised 15 years ago to complement the new administrative centre of Putrajaya, started off as a township with predominantly condominium and apartment units. Touted to be the most wired city in Malaysia, the 2,800ha project was planned to be the information technology (IT) city of the country. Its aim then, and still is today, was to attract world-class multimedia and IT firms to set up businesses there.

With more than 600 companies and a growing population which currently number about 50,000, developers are now focusing on building high-end landed residential units. It is reported that up to 27% of Cyberjaya has been developed, while over 40% of the landbank is under development and in the planning stage.

Suntrack Development Sdn Bhd, a niche property developer, has completed a high-end residential project, SummerGlades, on its 23-acre site, with a total of 137 units of super-liked terraced housing. This project has a density ratio of 6 units to an acre, which is viewed positively.

As a rule of thumb, there are generally 22 units of terraced housing, or eight semi-detached units, or four bungalows to an acre.

Launched in 2010, this development has two noteworthy features. It fronts the Putrajaya Lake with a neighbouring commercial centre, which provide SummerGlades with the leisure and commercial factors. That is particularly important as Cyberjaya, as a city, is still very new and conveniences like these are important.

Its second positive factor is the overall layout of the development. Houses are not designed in barrack-style rows. Instead, the residential units curve around its inner roads and about 40% of its land area are landscaped. Although the project is fenced, it is not a strata-development.

Last year, the project received a five-star award for Best Residential Development in Malaysia from the Asia Pacific Property Awards 2011 in association with Bloomberg Television.

The other landed project that is currently being developed in Cyberjaya is Symphony Hills, a project by UEM Land Holdings Bhd. This will be a landed strata development with cluster housing comprising terraced, semi-detached, super-linked and possibly bungalows in future. There are also plans to have two condominium blocks comprising 800 units.

There will be 411 landed housing and condominium units on 98 acres, which effectively means a higher density ratio when compared with SummerGlades.

Depending on the design and type, on a per sq ft basis, the first phase of Symphony Hills was launched at about RM370 per sq ft. The smallest built-up is more than 3,200 sq ft. Prices on a per sq ft basis may exceed RM500 in some cases for the larger units.

About a third of this 98 acres will be landscaped, as with most high-end developments today.

Next to Symphony Hills, Paramount Property Development Sdn Bhd, which is part of the Paramount Corporation company, has also launched its landed strata development. The Paramount developed Paramount Garden in Petaling Jaya decades ago, to be followed by Damansara Jaya and subsequently Kemuning Utama. While these are generally bread-and-butter terraced housing with no frills, the company has gone into the branding and high-end mode.

Sejati Residences will be the company's foray into the high-end sector.

“We want to move up the value chain,” says Paramount Property Development Sdn Bhd managing director Datuk Ricque Liew.

“It is no longer enough to give buyers a beautifully designed and fitted home. Sejati Residences (will offer) spacious luxurious living admist an expansive natural stting with designs that invite the outdoors in,” he says.

The 50-acre freehold development will have a mix of 249 landed houses, comprising bungalows, semi-detached units and super-link terraces spread across 40 acres. In terms of density ratio, this means Sejati Residences will have 6.2 houses to an acre. The remaining 10 acres will have a high-rise condominium project.

Phase one, comprising 78 units, was soft-launched about two weeks ago. About half have been sold with three-storey superlinks with built-ups of between 3,805 and 3,838 sq ft being priced at RM1.4mil.

Liew says the project will be planted with 1,200 trees and there will be a 8km jogging path. There will be a clubhouse build from timber salvaged from a shoe factory in Klang.

By The Star

Higher prices with heritage status

The Coffee Atelier, comprising 5 prewar buildings at Stewart Lane.

HERITAGE properties in Penang are now selling for RM600-RM1,200 per sq ft, depending on the historical and architectural characteristics of the property, the size and location.

Henry Butcher Malaysia (Penang) vice-president Shawn Ong says that prior to George Town's listing as a Unesco World Heritage Site (WHS) in 2008, the properties were selling from between RM300 and RM600 per sq ft.

“In view of the limited units of pre-war properties available in Penang, pre-war buildings with unique characteristics are generally attracting a lot of buying interest.

“Therefore, it is quite common for pre-war buildings available for sale being snapped up by investors, pushing up the selling price.

“The majority of buyers are Malaysians contrary to perception that more foreigners than Malaysians buy pre-war properties.

“A notable recent transaction is the sale of 30 units of pre-war shophouses in Nagore Road, George Town to investors,” he says.

According to Ong, the rentals of pre-war buildings of larger size in George Town's prime zones generally fetch RM10,000 to RM20,000 per month, compared to between RM5,000 and RM8,000 before George Town's Unesco WHS status.

“Locations such as Armenian Street, Stewart Lane, Chulia Street, Love Lane, and Muntri Street, due to their proximity to Little India and Khoo Kongsi, are among the most sought-after areas for heritage properties in George Town,” Ong adds.

The selling price of heritage properties in Penang has risen by about 10% this year compared with 2011, according to Ong.

According to Henry Butcher's Penang Real Estate Market Report, the total number of pre-war buildings within the conservation area of George Town Unesco WHS is 4,665, with 2,344 units at the core zone and 2,321 units at the buffer zone.

The core zone covers 109.4 ha bounded by the Straits of Malacca on the north-eastern tip of the island, Love Lane to the north-west, and Malay Street Ghaut and Dr Lim Chwee Leong Road to the south-west corner.

The core zone is protected by a 150-ha buffer zone bounded by Dr Lim Chwee Leong Road to the south-west and Transfer Road to the north-west.

According to PPC International Sdn Bhd director Mark Saw, the number of heritage property transactions for Penang in 2011 was 228, compared with 211 in 2010.

“Most of these properties were for double-storey pre-war houses in the north-east district of the island.

“Those with the foresight to invest in heritage properties before George Town received the WHS status would see the value of their properties increased substantially today.

“In the market presently, there are large-size heritage properties in inner George Town selling for more than RM10mil,” he says.

One such heritage building in inner George Town with a built-up and land area of 10,000 sq ft and 5,762 sq ft respectively is the No. 25 China Street, a double-storey property built in 1846 by Kapitan Chung Keng Kwee.

Malaysian-born David Wilkinson, who owns the property, says he bought the property in 2005 and spent over RM2mil to restore the building, which took about two years.

“It is the largest property on China Street as the building is equivalent to three shophouses. The property is being used as a private residence, but has the potential for commercial usage as a special heritage museum,” he says.

Another sizable heritage property in inner George Town that has seen its value rise substantially since 2008 is the row of five pre-war houses on Stewart Lane now collectively known as Coffee Atelier, comprising a coffee house cum restaurant, museum, art gallery and four hotel rooms owned by Stefan Gehrig and his wife Lorina.

Stefan says he purchased the five properties, which had a total built-up area of 8,160 sq ft and land area of 4,800 sq ft, for RM3.5mil in 2010.

He adds that he had recently received an offer of RM6mil for the properties.

“The five unique heritage properties were built in 1927 and were called shophouses because the original inhabitants carried out their trades on the ground floor, and lived with their families on the upper floors.

“One of these shophouses was once a coffee merchant's workshop in 1988.

“The name Coffee Atelier' derives from this element of the building's history and celebrates the memory of this artisanal trade from a bygone era,” he says.

By The Star

RM46mil allocated to four restoration projects in Penang

The restored Macalister Mansion has 8 hotel rooms, two restaurants and two bars.

SINCE George Town received Unesco World Heritage Site (WHS) status in 2008, over RM46.3mil has been allocated to restoration work in four major heritage projects.

The most well-known of these heritage properties restored are the Choong Lye Hock mansion and the Loke Thye Kee building.

The other two restoration projects are by Asian Global Business (AGB) and Public Packages Holdings Bhd involving commercial offices and warehouses built in the early 20th century at Weld Quay and Church Street Ghaut.

The AGB Group is restoring two early 20th century commercial and warehouse properties to be an integrated RM220mil Rice Miller Hotel and Residences, which is an in-fill development project.

An in-fill development involves constructing a project from scratch.

The cost of restoring a heritage project depends on the quality of finishing used and normally ranges between RM300 and RM400 per sq ft.

Sometimes a company spends more for restoration because of the condition and age of the property.

A prime heritage property in George Town can fetch rental of between RM5 and RM10 per sq ft, which means that a 2,000 sq ft heritage property strategically located can generate a rental of RM10,000 to RM20,000 a month, according to Henry Butcher Malaysia (Penang) vice-president Shawn Ong.

The Choong Lye Hock mansion restoration project, located on 48,943 sq ft at Macalister Road, was undertaken by local businessman Datuk Sean H'ng and his wife Datin Karen H'ng.

The Choong Lye Hock mansion belonged to a tycoon and philanthropist, who bought the property in the late-1890s.

Lye Hock is the father of local millionaire Ch'ng Eng Hye and the grandfather of badminton legend Datuk Eddy Choong.

The restored building, now known as Macalister Mansion (MM), has eight hotel rooms, two restaurants called The Dining Room and The Living Room, and two bars called the Bagan Bar and The Den.

Macalister Mansion opened its doors to the public in April 2012.

According to MM public relations director Josephine Leong, the planning and the restoration work for the 17,286 sq ft mansion took about 20 months.

“This is corporate responsibility initiative project to demonstrate that old colonial buildings can be regenerated into useful and practical spaces with a contemporary feel.

“Some eight months were spent on planning the design with a Singapore-based interior design company, Ministry of Design (MOD) to produce stunning interior designs.

“It took us 12 months to restore and reinforce the original columns, staircases and archways, original brick walls and wall cornices.

Leong says the Macalister Mansion project was more about a labour of love.

“The owners want to raise the bar in the boutique hotel scene in Penang. As global travellers, they would like to bring back that differentiated hotel experience where guests get to enjoy a more personalised and intimate level of service within luxurious surroundings,” Leong adds.

Raine & Horne Malaysia director Michael Geh says about RM2mil or about RM630 per sq ft was spent on restoring Loke Thye Kee, known as the oldest restaurant in Penang, at Burmah Road.

According to Geh, a local investment company, Loke Thye, set up by Singaporean investors, bought the double-storey property from a local businessman some about six years ago.

“About two years, which included also the time to obtain the green light from the local authorities for renovation, was spent on restoring the building with approximately 3,200sq ft of built-up area.

“It has been leased to a local company called Food People Sdn Bhd, which plans to set up soon a Hainanese restaurant, and food and beverage outlets,” he says.

Known as the House of Happiness in Hainanese, the Loke Thye Kee restaurant was established by brothers Loy Kok Boon and Loy Kok Dai, who leased the building from local businessman and philanthropist Khoo Sian Ewe.

Loke Thye Kee serves traditional Hainanese and Western cuisine such as curry kapitan, choon piah, and chicken chop.

AGB Group spent RM21.5mil or RM860 per sq ft to restore two heritage commercial and warehouse properties built in the early 20th century at Weld Quay.

AGB chief executive officer Dr Noraini Abdullah says the restoration turned out to be costly because a lot of work had to be done for strengthening the physical buildings, as their conditions were bad.

“About RM16mil was spent for restoring and reinforcing the physical infrastructure of the warehouse building, which serves as the event hall of the Rice Miller Hotel.

“Another RM5.5mil was spent in restoring a 5,000 sq ft colonial commercial building that will serve as the restaurant for the Rice Miller Hotel,” she adds.

The Rice Miller Hotel and Residences project is scheduled for completion next August and scheduled for opening in Dec 2013.

It will comprise 48 hotel suites, 99 city residences, which range between 800 and 2,500 sq ft in built-up, 23 retail lots of 600 sq ft, and two blocks of five-storey office buildings.

“In the past 12 months, we have sold 50% of the retail lots and city residences. Most of the buyers comprise Penangites and investors from Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur,” she adds.

Next to the Rice Miller Hotel and Residences project, Public Packages Holdings Bhd (PPHB) is restoring two heritage double-storey commercial properties with over 39,632 sq ft to be integrated into a RM50mil in-fill heritage hotel cum commercial project located at Church Street Ghaut, off Beach Street, which is popularly known as the central banking district.

PPHB hotel project manager Tony Koay says the group would spend RM15.8mil or RM400 per sq ft to restore the two heritage properties with fittings.

“One of the heritage commercial building with 11,000sq ft will be restored as part of the in-fill heritage hotel.

“The other heritage property with 28,632sq ft will be restored for commercial and office usage,” he says.

Koay says the advantage of carrying out infill development work for the heritage hotel project was that one could maximise the interior of the buildings to suit the needs of modern business usage.

The cost per sq ft to develop a heritage hotel from scratch with furnishings is about RM1,000 per sq ft, says Koay.

“A problem with restoring a heritage building for hotel usage is that the interior of such heritage buildings restricts the utilisation of space,” he says.

Koay adds that the in-fill heritage hotel would have over 150,000 sq ft of built-up area, 150 rooms, a business centre, meeting rooms, two-level of basement car-park, and retail shops on the ground floor.

“The architectural style for the hotel follows the design of late 19th and early 20th century port offices and warehouse buildings in George Town.

“We are targeting the upmarket tourists,” Koay says.

By The Star

UEM planning auto city for Gerbang Nusajaya

JOHOR BARU: A multi-million ringgit auto city would be developed on a 32.37ha site within Gerbang Nusajaya, a integrated mixed development located near the Sultan Abu Bakar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex (CIQ) at Tanjung Kupang in Gelang Patah.

UEM Group Bhd chairman Tan Sri Dr Ahmad Tajuddin Ali said among the components in the auto city project included showrooms for cars and related accessories, a racing circuit, retail outlets, entertainment and food and beverage outlets.

He said the project was among several new projects that would be launched or developed within one or two years.

UEM Land Holdings Bhd, which is part of UEM Group, is the master developer of the 9,308ha Nusajaya, the key driver of Iskandar Malaysia, which was launched on Nov 4, 2006.

Ahmad Tajuddin said Gerbang Nusajaya would also have a retail mall which would be unique and better than the Johor Premium Outlets.

Gerbang Nusajaya is divided into two parts, with a large parcel of land located on the left side of the CIQ (for motorists coming from Tuas in Singapore) and the other parcel on the right side of the complex.

UEM Land Holdings Bhd was still waiting for final approval to build the administrative complex to house the Federal Government's departments and agencies within Kota Iskandar, Ahmad Tajuddin told a press conference at the launch of Iskandar Malaysia Sustainability Summit 2012 yesterday.

He said “interest from investors towards Nusajaya in Iskandar Malaysia remains strong” with the momentum likely to continue in years to come.

Nusajaya had attracted interest from domestic and foreign investors despite uncertainties in the global economic growth, he said, adding that the completion of some catalytic projects within the Nusajaya development zone had reaffirmed its status as the key driver of Iskandar Malaysia.

Ahmad Tajuddin said among the notable projects included the Johor State New Administrative Centre's Kota Iskandar, Legoland Malaysia Theme Park, Puteri Harbour Indoor Theme Park and EduCity.

Nusajaya comprises eight catalyst developments Kota Iskandar, Southern Industrial and Logistic Clusters, Puteri Harbour Waterfront Development, EduCity, Medical City, International Destination Resort and Nusajaya Residences.

Nusajaya is one of the five flagship development zones in Iskandar Malaysia. The other four are the JB City Centre, Eastern Gate Development, Western Gate Development and Senai-Kulai.

By The Star

WCT to embark on fifth Johor project

NEW investments and surging property prices in Johor have led WCT Bhd to embark on a fifth project in the state, which will have an estimated gross development value of RM1.5 billion.

WCT, through its subsidiary WCT Acres Sdn Bhd, yesterday signed a 99-year lease purchase agreement with Iskandar Investment Bhd (IIB) for a 7.25ha plot in Medini North in Iskandar Malaysia for RM99.47 million.

The RM1.5 billion mixed commercial project will comprise office spaces, retail components and apartments, to be developed over five years, starting from the third quarter of next year.

"We hope we can go upmarket with this project and attract foreign investors from the neighbouring city state," WCT managing director Taing Kim Hwa said at the exchange of documents with IIB, the master developer of Medini.

WCT's maiden property project in Medini North is called 1Medini Residences, comprising two residential buildings worth RM400 million.

The first block, launched at RM450 per sq ft in January this year, is fully sold. The second block, which was launched at around RM560 psf in April, is about 90 per cent sold.

According to Taing, 40 per cent of the total 644 units were sold to foreigners.

Taing said in the first quarter of next year, WCT will be launching Medini Signature, featuring 456 luxury apartments worth a combined RM400 million, or starting from RM600 psf.

"Property prices have been increasing in Medini. We are excited at the prospects Johor has to offer as well as the future of Medini. We have confidence with developments in Medini which we think will give us reasonable returns," he said.

Taing said the company is currently enjoying profit margins of between 20 and 30 per cent from its projects in Medini North.

The remaining two projects in Johor by WCT are slated for launch next year and in 2014. The projects are located at Jalan Skudai and within the Medini Business District, next to Medini North.

IIB chief executive officer Datuk Syed Mohamed Syed Ibrahim said some RM3 billion investments have come into Medini, with a significant portion contributed by Singapore.

Syed Mohamed said there is also rising interest from the Japanese.

By Business Times

WCT agrees deal with Medini

KUALA LUMPUR: WCT Acres Sdn Bhd, a unit of WCT Bhd, has entered into a 99-year lease purchase agreement with Medini Land Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Iskandar Investment Bhd (IIB), for an 18.12-acre land for RM99.47mil.

The land, situated in Medini North in Johor, will be used for a proposed mixed commercial development with an estimated gross development value of approximately RM1.5bil.

The development which comprises offices, retail spaces and apartments will be carried out over the next five years.

At the signing ceremony, WCT managing director Taing Kim Hwa said works for the land would commence after the completion of the deal and expected it to be in another six to twelve months.

He said the project would give the company reasonable returns.

“As a developer, we work on a 20% to 30% margin,” he said, adding that it was targetting both local and foreign investors.

The land has a gross floor area of 2.76mil sq feet that works out to be RM36 per sq ft.

Last month, Mah Sing Group Bhd entered into a lease purchase agreement with IIB for a 8.2-acre land for RM74.7mil or RM34.90 per sq ft. Maybank Investment Bank Research said in a note dated Oct 19 that the price Mah Sing paid for was around 40% more than the RM24.70 per sq ft paid by Sunway and RM25 per sq ft E&O paid last year for a land in Medini.

“The surge in land cost may be attributed to the rapid progress in the area,” the research house noted.

After these two agreements, IIB will be announcing another four investment transactions this year.

It was reported that the transactions involved land sales or joint ventures between IIB and several Malaysian public listed property developers and a Singapore property developer.

IIB president and chief executive officer Datuk Syed Mohamed Syed Ibrahim said Medini had received RM3bil worth of investments including a significant amount from Singaporean investors.

Besides the latest agreement, WCT has other projects in Medini.

Taing said: “WCT also plans to develop 1.7mil sq ft of prime office space, neighbourhood retail and service apartment components on a 10.3-acre parcel we recently purchased in the 142-hectare (350.9 acre) Medini Business District located next to Medini North.”

By The Star

Sentoria gets Pahang nod to buy more land

KUALA LUMPUR: Sentoria Group Bhd’s unit Sentoria Alfa Sdn Bhd has received an approval letter from the Pahang state secretary on its application for an additional three parcels of land worth RM37.15 million.

These parcels of land are adjoining its existing Bukit Gambang Resort City in Pahang.

Of these 72.84ha acquired, 20.23ha will be used for further expansion of Bukit Gambang Safari Park (currently under construction), 20.23ha for tourism related retail commercial development, and the remaining 32.37ha for residential and support industry, Sentoria told Bursa Malaysia.

By Business Times