Wednesday, 31 July 2013

(The Star) I-Bhd expects revenue from leisure business to double

SHAH ALAM: I-Bhd, the developer of the i-city township, expects revenue from its leisure business to double next year from RM32mil last year.
Information manager Tan Soke Cheng said the higher income would be boosted by an increase from online ticketing contribution as well as introduction of new attractions. “Overall, we anticipate a 20% rise in contribution from our online ticketing business,” she told reporters at a briefing here yesterday.
She said the online ticketing business would be implementing a dynamic pricing model or yield management system that was similar to airlines and hotels’ online booking systems. “Ticket prices are determined by demand and supply factors, depending on the season of their visits,” Tan said.
She said the company was also planning to extend the online ticketing system to android and iPhone apps.
Meanwhile, on new attractions, she said the company would be introducing an RM25mil wax museum as well as a house of horror in August.
She said the wax museum would showcase 100 wax statues of renowned people, including celebrities and scientists.
Tan said with the launching of the new attraction, the company expects the number of visitors to double from 90,000 per week.
She said the wax museum itself was anticipated to attract 30,000 visitors per month.
Going forward, she said the company would be introducing more attractions as well as redecorating the older ones from time to time to maintain visitor interest. — Bernama

(The Star) New office space puts pressure on existing buildings in KL

PETALING JAYA: Kuala Lumpur’s office market is expected to remain competitive over the next two years, with some 7.9 million sq ft of new office space scheduled to come onstream by 2014, creating pressure on landlords and owners of older buildings.
CH Williams Talhar & Wong Sdn Bhd managing director Foo Gee Jen is confident that the new supply of office space can be absorbed, especially buildings located within the KL central business district (CBD), but at the expense of older buildings.
“The 7.9 million sq ft of space can be taken up, but it would create a vacuum in the older buildings,” he told StarBiz.
Foo noted that newer buildings offered better floor-to-ceiling ratios compared with older ones, hence providing tenants with more space, comfort and improved facilities for information technology and food and beverage support and utilisation.
“With better facilities, many tenants will still prefer to move to newer buildings, even if the rental rates cost a little bit more,” he said.
Foo said there would be incoming supply of office space amounting to 4.1 million sq ft and 3.8 million sq ft by end-2013 and 2014, respectively, adding that the cumulative supply of office space in the Klang Valley totalled 92.36 million sq ft in the first half of 2013.
Office buildings that would be completed by end-2013 are Menara Dialog, Menara LGB, Menara TSR, Glomac Damansara, Menara Bank Rakyat, The Cascades, Menara Hap Seng 2, The Ascent and One Sentrum.
“In the first half of the year, the occupancy rate in office buildings within the KL CBD actually improved by 3% to 4%. Our concern would be for buildings located outside the CBD area, such as those located within Kota Damansara, Subang Jaya and Petaling Jaya,” he said.
According to CH Williams Talhar & Wong’s 2013 Property Market Report, new buildings are expected to be well taken-up, but overall occupancy rate may slide slightly to 85% in 2013.
Knight Frank Malaysia managing director Sarkunan Subramaniam said despite the new office space coming into the market, only certain locations would experience a glut.
“Within the KL Sentral area, for instance, the supply is often more than usual, but because it is a transportation hub, occupancy is hardly a problem,” he said, adding that there could be a dip in rental rates next year due to the supply of new office space coming into the market.
According to Knight Frank’s KL Office Market and Trendsreport, the overall average achieved rent as at the first half of 2013 stood at RM5.97 per sq ft per month.
It said prime grade A and grade A+ buildings stood at RM6.29 per sq ft per month and RM9.34 per sq ft per month respectively.
Grade A buildings are defined by their technology and design.

(The Star) RM3bil Resorts World upgrade seen as much-needed boost for Genting

PETALING JAYA: While Genting Malaysia Bhd’s (GenM) RM400mil theme park collaboration with US-based 20th Century Fox has been lauded, not much has been revealed about the potential new gaming capacity at its hilltop resort – the group’s real money-spinner.
CIMB Research is so far the only outfit to have assumed an increase of 100 tables for Resorts World Genting (RWG), GenM’s flagship integrated resort in Pahang.
Details on more table games and electronic slots were unavailable, given the religious sensitivities, analysts said. It is understood that applications for additional gaming capacity must be made directly to the Finance Ministry.
GenM announced last Friday a much-anticipated plan to rejuvenate RWG at a cost of RM3bil over five years, starting with an overhaul of its aged outdoor theme park, which will be closed from September till 2016 for extensive renovations.
The 20th Century Fox-led park, the first of its kind in Asia, will reopen in three years with 25 rides featuring movies like Ice AgeRioAlien & Predator and Night at the Museum, a move analysts expect to boost mass market volumes and average spends per visitor.
GenM has seen little growth in earnings from RWG since its last expansion of table games in 2010, when the resort added 100 tables to the current 500 and 500 slots to 3,500 due to its stretched capacity and stagnating visitor numbers.
“The upgrade and expansion is a much-needed shot-in-the arm for RWG. Its non-gaming assets and attractions were getting tired and it needed to widen its appeal to a younger and more discerning market in the Klang Valley.
“The RM3bil capital expenditure (capex) plan also supports our key assumption of 100 new tables in 2015 when the 1,300-room hotel is completed. Based on regional comparisons of rooms per table and capex per table ratios, our assumption of 100 new tables looks conservative,” CIMB Research said in a report yesterday.
The brokerage noted that GenM could even increase its table games by 300, because of RWG’s room-to-table ratio of 20 hotel rooms for every table, versus a ratio of three to five hotel rooms per table in other countries.
“We believe that RWG is out of sync because it is the first integrated resort in Asia and has a very ad-hoc and non-transparent regulatory environment, i.e. RWG would apply for more tables and slots on a discretionary basis after engaging with the Finance Ministry.”
CIMB Research had said in a previous report that even with more tables, RWG would still lag other similar casinos in the region by 2015. Manila, it said, was set to have 1,000 tables by that time.
RWG gets 85%-90% of its revenue from gaming, with the rest from its leisure segment.

(The Star) IGB REIT posts RM50.7m net profit in Q2

KUALA LUMPUR: IGB Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) posted net profit of RM50.72mil in the second quarter ended June 30, 2013.
The owner and operator of Mid Valley Megamall and The Gardens Mall reported on Tuesday revenue of RM107.04mil while earnings per share were 1.49 sen.
IGB REIT said gross revenue and net property income, mainly from the gross rental income of Mid Valley Megamall and The Gardens Mall, were RM107mil and RM70.6mil respectively resulting in profit before taxation of RM50.7mil.
The distributable income for the current quarter amounted to RM59.2 million or 1.73 sen per unit.
For the first half ended June 30, 2013, it recorded earnings of RM100.03mil on the back of RM208.43mil in revenue.
IGB REIT said the market value of Mid Valley Megamall and The Gardens Mall remained at RM3.5bil and RM1.2bil respectively.

(BUSINESS TIMES) I-Berhad hopes to double leisure business revenue

The developer of the i-City township, I-Berhad, expects revenue from its leisure business to double next year from RM32 million last year.

Information manager of I-City Properties Sdn Bhd, Tan Soke Cheng, said the higher income will be boosted by an increase in online ticketing contribution as well as introduction of new attractions.

"Overall, we anticipate a 20 per cent rise in contribution from our online ticketing business," she said yesterday.

She said a dynamic pricing model or yield management system that is similar to airlines' and hotels' online booking systems will be implemented soon.

"Ticket prices are determined by demand and supply factors, depending on the season of the visits."

She said the company is also planning to extend the online ticketing system to Android and iPhones apps.

Meanwhile, on the new attractions, she said the company will be opening a RM25 million interactive wax museum as well as a "House of Horror" next month.

She said the wax museum will showcase 100 statues of renowned people, including celebrities and scientists.

Tan said with the launching of the new attractions, the company expects the number of visitors to i-City to double from 90,000 per week.

She said the wax museum itself is anticipated to attract 30,000 visitors per month.

Going forward, she said the company will be introducing more attractions as well as redecorate the older ones from time to time to maintain visitors' interest.

She said the company has invested RM50 million in the last five years to upgrade and introduce new attractions at its entertainment area.

Spread over 10.1 ha, i-City entertainment zone comprises four main attractions - City of Digital Lights, Snowalk, Waterworld and FunWorld. Bernama

(NST) Budget group focuses on housing issues

SOLUTIONS: Supply and demand mismatch, low-cost housing among topics discussed

PUTRAJAYA: Rising house prices and the mismatch between supply and demand were among the issues discussed at the first 2014 Budget focus group on home ownership meeting yesterday.

Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanadzlah said these issues needed to be addressed in order to provide adequate and affordable housing for the people.

"Rising house prices, particularly in urban areas, have made it difficult for the low- and middle-income groups to own houses.

"Since 2011, house price increases have hovered between 11 and 12 per cent annually in locations, such as Kuala Lumpur which has the most expensive housing, averaging at RM552,707 a unit in the first quarter of this year. This is followed by Sabah and Selangor, with average prices per unit at RM391,981 and RM365,317 respectively," he said before chairing the meeting.

Loans for residential properties also accounted for a significant RM319.4 billion, or 49.6 per cent of total outstanding loans in households as of May.

Apart from rising house prices, he also pointed out the need to address the mismatch between supply and demand as there was higher demand for low- and medium-cost houses in urban areas.

"However, developers prefer to build luxury houses because of the scarcity and high cost of land."

The focus group, he said, would also look at issues of low-cost houses not strategically located with public transport facilities.

"Abandoned and delayed housing projects is another issue that needs to be addressed.

"They have affected the supply of houses and caused undue hardship to buyers who have to service loans and pay rental for current premises."

Slow implementation of the Industrial Building System, which could lead to cost savings in terms of labour and construction materials, and no valuation requirements on new houses that left developers free to set their own prices, were other issues discussed by the focus group.

Husni said the government had carried out several initiatives to address the housing needs of the people, including My First Home Scheme, 1Malaysia People Housing Programme, 1Malaysia Civil Servants' Housing Programme, the People's Housing Programme as well as the Rumah Mesra Rakyat and Rumah Mampu Milik programmes.

"In addition, a RM500 million housing maintenance fund was allocated under the 10th Malaysia Plan for the maintenance of public and private low-cost houses."

He said the government had implemented the 70 per cent loan-to-value on financing facilities for a third house.

The government had also raised the real property gains tax from 10 per cent to 15 per cent on properties sold within two years and from five per cent to 10 per cent for properties sold between the third and fifth year.

(NST) Country Garden carnival on Aug 11

JOHOR BARU: A China-based developer will unveil a glimpse of its 23ha development of the Country Garden Danga Bay project at its month-long "Country Garden Danga Bay (CGDB) Universal Carnival" beginning Aug 11.

CGDB Sdn Bhd regional president Kayson Yuen said the carnival, touted as a world-class showcase of the waterfront metropolis, was expected to attract 30,000 visitors.

Visitors can experience an array of facilities and view the project where the first phase of development is expected to be completed between 2016 and 2017.

It is the first time that Country Garden Danga Bay Sdn Bhd is venturing into Johor.

Its maiden projects in Malaysia were joint ventures in Kajang and Rawang. CGDB has a gross development value of RM18 billion.

Yuen said the carnival will see appearances by popular artistes and a host of activities such as a music festival and a fireworks display.

Dubbed the next Sentosa of Singapore, Yuen said they were spending RM50 million on the carnival, which features a high-end clubhouse, model homes, an infinity pool, landscaped sky gardens, an artificial beach and a private marina.

"We can also arrange for parties to be held at the clubhouse, as well as bookings for yachts, during the month-long event," Yuen said.

Free shuttle buses will be provided here, in Batu Pahat, Kota Tinggi, Kluang and Singapore.

For those here, shuttle buses to Danga Bay will be available every hour, while the rest of the stops will feature two rides to the carnival per day.

Yuen said a branding exercise for CGDB was first launched in April in the southern region of China.

"We are targeting half of the property owners here to be locals, while the other half to be made up of foreign investors," he said.

When completed, the development will feature more than 30 commercial and high-rise residential buildings, and is set to be a premier world-class city development at Iskandar Malaysia Flagship A.

(The Edge) Mulpha Land to develop parent company’s land in PJ

KUALA LUMPUR: In a related party transaction involving its parent Mulpha International Bhd (MIB), Mulpha Land Bhd (MLB) will undertake the development MIB’s land and headquarters in Petaling Jaya into high-rise serviced residences.

Located in Section 13 in Petaling Jaya, the property is currently vacant as MIB has moved to its new headquarters in Menara Mudajaya in Mutiara Damansara. MIB holds a 67% stake in MLB.

With a gross development value of about RM200 million to RM250 million, work on the development is expected to commence in the first half of 2015 and be completed three years later, MLB said in an announcement to Bursa Malaysia two days ago.

MLB will buy the two-acre (0.81ha) tract of land from Mulpha Properties (M) Sdn Bhd (MPM), a wholly owned subsidiary of Mulpha Group Services Sdn Bhd (MGS) which, in turn, is a wholly owned subsidiary of MIB. The proposed acquisition price is RM47.07 million cash.

As part of the deal, MLB has proposed to sell two parcels of land in Johor Baru to MIB’s wholly owned subsidiary, Leisure Farm Equestrian Sdn Bhd. The two parcels will be sold for a total of RM19.67 million.

Measuring 26,970 sq m (2.7ha), the first parcel has a price tag of RM14.92 million and has been designated for the development of apartments. Prior to the proposed land sale, MLB was in the process of conceptualising the development of 67 villas there with golf course frontage.

The second parcel, which covers an area of 5.172 sq m, is priced at RM4.75 million.

The deal also involves a proposed 3-for-2 bonus issue by MLB.

MLB said the proposed inter-company transactions are part of MIB’s strategy to streamline its property development projects in Malaysia. MIB, through Leisure Farm, will in future concentrate in the southern region, while MLB will concentrate in the central and northern regions of Peninsular Malaysia.

MLB said the land it is acquiring from MIB in Petaling Jaya is located within an important commercial area which has in recent years seen new commercial developments, such as such as the V Square @ PJ City Centre, The Plaza @ Jaya 33 and the redevelopment of the Jaya Shopping Centre.

“The PJ land is within close proximity to PJ’s new town centre and is easily accessible from major roads and highways. Given its strategic location and excellent accessibility, it is expected there would be commercial potential for the land and demand for the residential units to be developed there.

“In this regard, the proposed land acquisition is in line with MLB’s strategy to increase its landbank in strategic locations for future development to ensure earning growth sustainability.”

MIB, in its 2012 annual report, had noted that the PJ land will also contain a hotel besides the serviced residences. The development will feature approximately 200 serviced residences and 250 hotel rooms.

(The Edge) Pesona Metro bags RM150m contract

KUALA LUMPUR: Pesona Metro Holdings Bhd’s wholly owned subsidiary, Pesona Metro Sdn Bhd, has won a contract worth RM149.6 million from the Intrasegi Sdn Bhd–Tegas Setuju Sdn Bhd joint venture.

The company said the contract is for the construction and completion of a government building complex in Johor Baru.

The project, targeted for completion on Jan 29, 2016, and to be completed within 30 months from the date of possession of the site, will be funded internally and will have no effect on Pesona Metro’s gearing.

Managing director Wie Hock Beng said the project would have a significant contribution to its earnings and beef up its order book.

“We expect the project will keep the group busy for the next two years,” he said in a statement yesterday. — Bernama


Tuesday, 30 July 2013

(The Edge) Crescendo eyes high-end market

KUALA LUMPUR: Crescendo Corp Bhd is eyeing the high-end property market with the aim of beefing up its margins, said managing director Gooi Seong Lim.

He told reporters after the company AGM yesterday that Crescendo intends to convert 60 acres (24.3ha) of its industrial landbank in Nusa Cemerlang Industrial Park in Nusajaya, Johor, to accommodate high-end commercial and residential projects.

“If the conversion (of the land) is approved, the high-end projects will contribute better margins for us,” Gooi said on the two-year plan.

While Crescendo is not undertaking any high-end property projects at the moment, he said its 1,700-acre landbank in Iskandar Malaysia is more than enough to accommodate new property developments.

“We were previously concentrated on industrial and medium-cost residential properties. But now we also want to offer a full spectrum of properties for our purchasers,” Gooi said.

All of Crescendo’s projects are in Johor, with 56% of its total landbank located within Iskandar.

Gooi expressed optimism the property market in Iskandar will not become saturated as more developers continue to make inroads into the area.

“We take into account three factors — more job opportunities in Iskandar, Johor’s expected population growth and property purchasers from nearby Singapore,” he said.

Crescendo currently has two industrial parks and two multi-storey shop offices in Iskandar.

In the medium-cost segment, the company plans to start developing the recently launched Bandar Cemerlang development by early 2015.

“It is a fairly big project with over 100 acres of landed residential development.

“Depending on demand, the completion of the project will be spread over 10 years,” Gooi said, adding that the company plans to build over 1,000 terraced houses in Bandar Cemerlang.

With an estimated gross development value of RM3 billion, he said Bandar Cemerlang will offer affordable homes to meet strong demand for such properties in Johor Baru.

Through its 90% owned subsidiary Crescendo Land Sdn Bhd, the group is undertaking a waterfront mixed development along Sungai Rekoh near Johor Baru.

For the financial year ended Jan 31, 2013 (FY13), Crescendo reported a net profit of RM59.61 million, a 9.76% drop from RM66.06 million for FY12.

According to Gooi, the decrease in earnings was attributed to lower industrial property sales throughout last year.

(BUSINESS TIMES) KL-Singapore rail tender open to international bidders

HIGH-SPEED LINK: Malaysian and Singaporean governments deciding on modality and procedure

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday confirmed that the tender for the high-speed rail (HSR) link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore will be opened to international bidders.

He said the Malaysian and Singaporean governments are in the process of deciding on the modality, way forward and procedure for execution.

“We expect this to be a very transparent, open bidding system in which companies from all over the world are free to participate,” he said at a joint press conference with his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault, here, yesterday.

On the rail industry in Malaysia, Najib said Malaysia is embarking on extensive rail development, such as the multi-billion Klang Valley mass rapid transit project and the HSR project, which is targeted for completion by 2020.

The rail link is expected to cost around RM40 billion, including RM10 billion to buy high-speed bullet trains.

Earlier, Najib and Ayrault witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Malaysian Industry-Government
Group for High Technology (MIGHT) and Thales, a global technology leader for aerospace and transportation markets, for the development of the country’s rail industry.

With more than RM160 billion government investment expected in the industry until 2020, the MoU will address human capital competency issues.

In a statement yesterday, MIGHT said the MoU is aimed at supporting the government’s commitment to the development of Malaysia’s public transport system via the Rail Centre of
Excellence (RCOE).

It said Thales is one of the first original equipment manufacturers (OEM) that will contribute to the development of the RCOE.

“MIGHT is taking the lead to undertake the implementation of the RCOE by way of engaging rail entities for the purpose,” it said.

Other content providers for RCOE are Spanish Railways Foundation for the main line and high speed rail, and Metro Madrid for the urban rail. The MoUs with these entities are planned for September during the launch of the National Rail Industry Development Roadmap.

RCOE will also house and integrate activities such as research and development, small and medium enterprises and OEM production facilities.

Meanwhile, Thales senior executive vice-president Pascale Sourisse said the company is delighted to support the industrial initiative in Malaysia.

(BUSINESS TIMES) LRT extension project ‘ready only in 2016’

KUALA LUMPUR: The Ampang and Kelana Jaya light rail transit (LRT) line extension project has hit a snag and will only be completed earliest by the middle of 2016.

This means that the project, which was originally scheduled to be completed by end-2014, will be delayed by some 18 months. 

It raises the alarm that the construction cost for both the Ampang and Kelana Jaya LRT line extensions would surpass RM8 billion, more than the original budget of RM7 billion. 

Business Times understands that the delay is caused by the late award of contracts to some companies, including George Kent (M) Bhd, by the Minister of Finance Inc. 

George Kent won a RM960 million contract for engineering, procurement, construction, testing and commissioning of system works for the Ampang LRT line. There was a 12-month delay in the awarding of the contract because of concerns raised by several parties on the company’s capability and resources. 

It was reported that George Kent was unsuitable for the job as it did not fulfil the project's financial and technical requirements, which involved new rail works and an upgrade of the communications and signalling system for the entire rail network. 

George Kent, which two months ago had its water concession in Papua New Guinea terminated, now has to play catch-up, said industry sources. 

"The LRT line extension project will only be operational by late 2016 because of the delay in the awarding of contracts and some works carried out by certain contractors," a source said. 

It is understood that French-based Thales Group as well as CMC Engineering and its partner, the United Kingdom's Colas, are slow in their works. 

This raises concerns as yesterday, Thales inked a memorandum of understanding worth RM380 million with Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology under the Defence Offset Programme for Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd for the provision of railway signalling simulator and equipment. 

Thales won contracts from Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd, the project and asset owner of the LRT, to supply its signalling system, which is worth RM800 million, for the Kelana Jaya and Ampang LRT line extensions. 

Thales claims that the civil work contractors involved in the project are delaying its package. 

"The French group has no access to the site," a source said. 

CMC and Colas, meanwhile, have only completed 25 per cent of their works because of delays in the system design engineering and access to the work site. 

The two won a RM673.9 million contract in June 2011 to build an electro-mechanical system for the Kelana Jaya LRT line extension. 

(BUSINESS TIMES) Mah Sing eyes govt partnership

MAH SING Group Bhd is eyeing government land redevelopment projects in the Klang Valley, Johor and Sabah to improve its earnings, said group managing director and chief executive officer Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum.

Leong said the company is banking on government land to expand its business because of scarcity of "good private landbank" in strategic areas.

He said redevelopment of government land also offers the company good margins and will help to boost its earnings over the long term. 

Mah Sing recorded a net profit of RM69.5 million for the first quarter ended March 31 2013, up 16 per cent from the same quarter last year.

"We aim to partner the government as a developer and develop the land in return for cash and kind," he told Business Times recently.

Property analysts said Mah Sing can get a profit margin of between 20 and 28 per cent from developing government land.

"Government land is cheaper to develop. Developers get certain privileges, such as faster development approval. These saves a lot of time and money," said an analyst. 

Other developers have had similar deals with the government. 

SP Setia Bhd, for example, have taken over several plots of government land in Kuala Lumpur in the past three years in deals costing more than RM150 million.

In 2011, it took over the 10ha land opposite Mid Valley City from Kuala Lumpur City Hall, where the KL Eco City project is ongoing.

Under a land swap arrangement, SP Setia also took over the 20ha Public Health Institute site in Bangsar. 

Mah Sing has been actively looking to enhance the gross development value (GDV) of its projects with strategic land acquisitions in Greater Kuala Lumpur and Klang Valley, Penang, Johor and Sabah.

In 2011, Mah Sing secured a project to develop part of the former Pekeliling flats area into serviced residences and retail units with an estimated GDV of RM900 million. 

But the project did not kick off as Mah Sing faced issues with the project owner, Asie Sdn Bhd. 

Leong said Mah Sing is now eyeing to develop some parcels of the 942.92ha Rubber Research Institute (RRI) land in Sungai Buloh.

The RRI land development is the city's largest suburban property project and the project planner is the Employees Provident Fund.

Mah Sing is also eyeing the old Sungai Besi airport site and land surrounding the KLCC area.

"We are also looking at state government land in Selangor and studying several proposals in Iskandar Malaysia and Kota Kinabalu," Leong said.

(NST) One-way traffic causing congestion

BUMPER TO BUMPER: Vehicles are almost at a standstill along Jalan Mount Erskine and the Gurney Drive seafront promenade during rush hour

GEORGE TOWN: NUMEROUS complaints from motorists on the bottleneck of traffic on the one-way street in Pulau Tikus have led the local council back to the drawing board to adjust the routes.

A check by Streets recently saw heavy congestion along Jalan Mount Erskine and the Gurney Drive seafront promenade during the morning rush hour.

Traffic was almost at a standstill with a two kilometre jam from the junction of Jalan Burma and Jalan Bagan Jermal to Pepper Estate.

The Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) engineering department deputy director A. Ranjendran agreed that there were flaws in the one-way traffic system.

"We are aware of the disruption of traffic in Pulau Tikus and discussions are on-going for our traffic management team to address the weaknesses brought up by motorists

"Certain routes may be changed to lessen the bottleneck at selected intersections," Rajendran told Streets, adding that the local council planned to re-time the traffic intervals for a better flow of traffic.

Rajendran urged road users to remain patient in view of the new system which would take weeks for people to get used to.

Some 20 streets in the vicinity of Pulau Tikus have been changed to one-way roads recently.

The re-routing includes a one kilometre stretch along the Gurney Drive promenade which has been changed into city-bound one-way traffic between the junction of Jalan Pemenang and Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah.

Jalan Pemenang, Jalan Concordia, Lorong Kuching, Lorong Pulau Tikus, Lorong Leandro's, Lebuhraya Maktab and Lorong Maktab have been converted into one-way streets while part of Jalan Cantonment has been be made into a two-way street.

As for Jalan Jones, Lorong Bangkok and Lorong Maktab which links Jalan Kelawei to Jalan Burma, these roads have been converted into one-way streets as part of the implementation of the Penang's Transport Masterplan.

The one-way traffic conversion will undergo a three-month trial period before being made into a permanent road fixture.

(The Star) Jalan Kelang Lama overwhelmed by high-rise projects and traffic congestion

Built between 1905 and 1908, Jalan Kelang Lama is one of the oldest trunk roads in Kuala Lumpur.

In 2004, there was a massive upgrade and widening exercise costing RM359mil to ease the worsening congestion. Nine years on, the traffic congestion is getting worse.

Motorists using Jalan Kelang Lama to get to the city have to either leave at the break of dawn or opt for alternative routes to beat the ever increasing traffic.

Experts predict that in two years, every inner road within the township will be clogged with cars leading to a perpetual traffic gridlock.

“As the township grows and more buildings come up with higher density and plot ratio, there will be an overwhelming increase in traffic. It is inevitable that commuting times will increase,’’ said town and environmental consultant Pratap Chand-ran Gopinath.

Ongoing projects
Currently, several work-in-progress projects line both sides of the 11.2km-long road.

Some of these developments will be completed in two to three years, while others may take longer.

Major projects are also taking place along Jalan Sepadu, off the main arterial road.

The former industrial site was earmarked for redevelopment several years ago.

A mixed development project comprising a retail complex and 403 service apartment units have been approved.

The project, called Pearl Suria, will also include a pedestrian bridge linking the retail complex to Pearl Point Mall and Pearl International Hotel.

The development, proposed in the early 1990s, was one of the sites in the Draft Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020 identified for land rejuvenation.

The draft plan listed 26 old and neglected areas in Kuala Lumpur to be redeveloped.

Another development is taking shape across the road from Pearl Point Mall — Verve Suites KL South by Bukit Kiara Properties.

The two 24-storey towers were empty for two years before being rented to a college.

The building is being refurbished and is slated to house 300 serviced apartment units that are now available for sale.

Further along just before the Taman Desa junction, a project known as Avantas Residences is taking shape. It also faces Taman Shanghai.

The project consists of a 28-storey serviced apartment with basement carpark is being developed by CPI Development Sdn Bhd.

The Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) greenlit the project although residents had raised concerns of traffic congestion.

High population density
Apart from these projects, several landbanks along both sides of Jalan Kelang Lama have been cleared, signalling the possibility of more development.

Once fully completed, these developments will add to the area’s population, raising concern among those who are already living there.

“Jalan Kelang Lama was given a new lease on life when the Government upgraded and widened the road from four to six lanes.

“After that, Puchong saw major expansion and that added to the congestion. Jalan Kelang Lama was not only serving as a link to surrounding areas but also provided access to Klang, Sungai Way and Puchong,’’ said Pratap.

He added that once Scott Garden was fully completed, the area will get even more crowded.

“Even now, at night, the area becomes congested but this is also caused by those who double park their vehicles along the road,’’ said Taman OUG resident Kumar Raj.

Although many residents welcome Jalan Kelang Lama’s central location and the presence of shopping centres such as Mid Valley and Scott Garden, they said further developments would be ill-advised.

“You can imagine what it is going to be like when all these projects are ready,’’ said trader Lim Chin Keat.

Lim, who is a trader at the 3rd Mile wet market, said it was already difficult to find parking space.

“I cannot imagine what it is going to be like here in a few years’ time.’’

Stretched to the limit
Pratap feels that Jalan Kelang Lama will not be able to take additional vehicles.

“DBKL should not allow an increase in the density and plot ratio unless it can provide a good transportation system to ease congestion.

“Otherwise the resulting increase in population density will put a strain on existing facilities and road systems, causing inconvenience to residents,’’ he said.

However, it is not all doom and gloom as traffic consultant Goh Bok Yen thinks that the situation can be improved.

“DBKL has to carry out a macro-level study of Jalan Kelang Lama. A thorough traffic impact assessment that takes all the development projects into consideration must be done.”

He added that another way to ease the bottleneck was to have a proper traffic dispersal system leading to the Shah Alam Expresway (Kesas) and New Pantai Expressway (NPE).

Goh also suggested that a well-planned and integrated public transportation system could be incorporated into the area.

Meanwhile, there has been talk of extending the monorail system from Brickfields to Sunway via Jalan Kelang Lama.

This is part of the Draft Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020, and City Hall and transport planners must ensure accessibility and connectivity issues are effectively addressed.

(The Star) Lucky Plaza tenants to vacate by Aug 31

LUCKY Plaza Bandar Park — a landmark in 4th Mile Jalan Kelang Lama will cease operations on Aug 31.
Major tenants of the decades-old shopping complex include Central Hypermarket, also known as Pasar Besar Central, and Ace Hardware. The hypermarket is popular with residents, especially the older generation. There is also a wet market on the ground floor.
The office of the current building management and a Thai restaurant called Sabye Sabye next door have received notices from the building’s Singapore owners to vacate the premises.
“We are not sure what they are going to do here. There are rumours that a hospital may be built,’’ said vegetable-seller Kak Minah.
“I heard a condominium will come up here,’’ said a hypermarket staff who declined to be named.
However, calls to the management office went unanswered.
When contacted, an agent for the landlord said it was highly unlikely that a hospital would be built.
“The development order has yet to be approved. All the tenants have been given notice to vacate by Aug 31,’’ said the agent.

(The Star) Medini Iskandar plans RM2.6bil Bursa listing

KUALA LUMPUR: Medini Iskandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd, an urban township property developer, plans to list on the local stock exchange in the first half of 2014 in a deal that could raise up to US$800mil (RM2.58bil), two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The initial public offering (IPO) would see the company joining a handful of listed “master developers” in Asia, such as the Philippines’ Ayala Corp and Japan’s Mitsubishi Estate Co Ltd.
Those companies typically develop a region and have a number of property companies in their stable.
“Banks are pitching for the deal,” said one of the sources, adding that the plan was still in a preliminary stage.
The sources declined to be named because the matter was private. A representative at Medini Iskandar was not immediately available to comment.
Medini Iskandar, which counts state-owned Iskandar Investment Bhd, Dubai’s United World Infrastructure and Japan’s Mitsui & Co Ltd as shareholders, is the developer for 903 ha of land earmarked as Malaysia’s largest single urban development to date in Iskandar, Johor.
The site, which will be developed into an urban township consisting of luxury condominiums, hotels, hospitals and education centres, has an expected gross development value of more than RM68bil over the 20-year development plan, according to Medini’s website.
Khazanah Nasional Bhd holds a 60% equity stake in Iskandar Investment, while the Employees Provident Fund and Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor Bhd each own 20%.
Malaysia has seen a pick-up in IPOs and secondary share offerings after a lull amid political uncertainty ahead of a general election in May.
Long-haul carrier AirAsia X Bhd raised US$310mil (about RM1bil) in an IPO earlier this month.
Westports Malaysia Sdn Bhd, operator of the country’s busiest port, is expected to list in October this year in a deal that will raise up to US$500mil (RM1.61bil).
But 2013 has not been all smooth sailing for the Malaysian IPO market, which was the biggest in Asia-Pacific excluding Japan last year.
Construction and power firm MMC Corp Bhd announced in May that it was postponing the US$1bil (RM3.22bil) share listing of its Malakoff power arm until the first half of 2014, citing delays caused by maintenance work.
That would have been the country’s largest IPO this year. — Reuters

Monday, 29 July 2013

(The Star) Leisure Farm bungalow lots in Iskandar Malaysia sold out

PETALING JAYA: Due to overwhelming response, 10 pre-selected bungalow lots in Leisure Farm Resort, Iskandar Malaysia was sold out with over 30 bids received.
Successful bidders secured the units around 10% to 15% above the reserve pricea, with about half of the total sale of RM50mil to Malaysians and the balance to overseas buyers.
Leisure Farm Corporation Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mulpha International Bhd, said in a statement that there was a surge in demand in the first six months of the year, with land prices increasing by 40% to 70% depending on the precinct and topography of the lots.
“We are overwhelmed by the strong reception,” Mulpha executive chairman Lee Seng Huang in a statement.
The reserve price of the lots ranged from RM2.03mil to RM6.93mil, or RM115 to RM150 per sq ft.
October will see the launch of a further 57 units of canal-front bungalows and eco-themed semi-Ds, Bayou Creek, Precinct 7B in the same area.

(NST) Second Penang Bridge a boost for Batu Kawan

HUGE GROWTH: Proximity to bridge leading to development of properties and malls

NIBONG TEBAL : As Penang folk await the official opening of the Second Penang Bridge in November, Batu Kawan is becoming the new property magnet in Seberang Prai.

Because of its proximity to the 24km bridge that links Seberang Prai Selatan to Batu Maung, the boom is hard for potential buyers and investors to ignore.

With the travelling time to downtown Penang reduced to half an hour, the bridge is an iconic project that bring those on Penang island and in Seberang Prai closer.

One of the landmarks from the spillover of the bridge is Bandar Cassia, which is transforming the oil palm estates there into the biggest township in Seberang Prai.

Stretching more than 2,670ha, the project by state-owned Penang Development Corporation (PDC) offers properties from residential to commercial.

Bandar Cassia's attraction is being spiced up with the construction of the Premium Outlet shopping mall, which is slated to turn Batu Kawan into a shopping and tourism destination.

The Premium Outlet, which offers designers' products and merchandises at discounted prices, will be built on a 16ha plot of land. It is the second branch in Malaysia after Johor Premium Outlets in Kulaijaya.

Just a few kilometres away in Simpang Ampat, the Pearl City township project is changing the sleepy town into a modern township.

The mixed residential and commercial township being developed on a 445ha land is set to transform Simpang Ampat into a new property hotspot in Seberang Prai Selatan.

Developer Tambun Indah Land Bhd is building a hotel, a private hospital, an international school and food and beverage outlets.

Henry Butcher (Seberang Prai) associate director Fook Tone Huat said property prices in Batu Kawan were expected to rise by at least 10 per cent with the opening of the bridge.

He said the bridge would make Batu Kawan and its neighbouring areas attractive, especially for those staying in Penang island and wishing to own a landed property.

"The prices of landed property on Penang island are more expensive compared with the competitive prices of between RM250,000 and RM400,000 offered on the mainland.

"The bridge will make it faster and more convenient for people to commute from Seberang Prai to Penang island."

Fook said the healthy competition among developers, offering attractive packages, would not only attract locals but also those from the island to move to Batu Kawan.

It was not surprising that half of the Pearl City township buyers were those from Penang island.

He said indications suggested that Batu Kawan would be the next big thing for property buyers and investors in Seberang Prai as the township had years to go before reaching its capacity.

"We are not just talking about Batu Kawan. The Second Penang Bridge is also creating a spillover impact on its surrounding areas, such as Bukit Minyak and Valdor.

Fook said those investing in properties should consider Batu Kawan.

(The Star) More bays and park-and-ride facilities being built

THE LRT Line Extension Project (LEP), expected to be completed in 2015, gives emphasis on parking space with the provision of some 7,000 parking bays at the Park-and-Ride facilities at 13 stations.
Prasarana group communications and strategic marketing executive vice-president Lim Jin Aun expects, with the completion of MRT and the LEP, more people will use the public transport in line with the Government’s effort to increase the ratio of public transport usage and private vehicle reliance to 60:40 by 2020.
“We also anticipated that more people would take their first mile journey (from home to the LRT station) by car or other modes of transport such as feeder bus and so have taken the initiative to construct more Park-and-Ride facilities to cater to such demands.
“The first Park-and-Ride complex was officially opened in March, adjacent to the Gombak LRT station.
“This facility increased the number of parking bays from 471 to 1,260.
“The complex is equipped with the latest parking safety features such as CCTV cameras, panic buttons, 24-hour security guard patrol and indicators for available parking bays.
“There are dedicated parking bays at the ground floor for female drivers and people with disabilities. We have received very good response to the facility with 95% occupancy daily,” he said.
Lim said Prasarana was in the process of constructing a similar Park-and-Ride complex next to the Ampang station, scheduled to be opened next year. The Ampang LRT Station multi-storey carpark will provide some 1,140 parking bays.
“We will also be increasing the number of parking bays at the Kelana Jaya station from 400 to 1,000 by the end of 2015 in line with the National Key Result Area (NKRA) initiative led by the Transport Ministry.
“Furthermore, as announced by Petaling Jaya mayor Datin Paduka Alinah Ahmad, the Petaling Jaya City Council plans to convert into carparks the areas under the TNB power line adjacent to the Kelana Jaya LRT line namely the Kelana Jaya, Taman Bahagia, Taman Paramount and Asia Jaya stations,” he added.

(The Star) Commuters face daily struggle to find space at LRT stations' parking lot

LACK of parking space forces hundreds of motorists daily to park at undesignated areas near LRT stations to board the train, often leaving their vehicles there throughout the day and sometimes posing inconvenience to other road users and also risking damage to their own vehicles.
This pervading problem has been a deterrent factor for many urbanites in the Klang Valley who cite it as a reason they are reluctant to travel by LRT to their destinations.
A check by StarMetro at several LRT stations over the week found lines of cars parked by road shoulders.
Some car owners who commute by LRT have to resort to parking their vehicles at every nook and corner that fits.
At stations that are close to residential areas, some of the commuters park on the grassy road shoulder between houses.
Lingeswari Kaniasan who takes the LRT to work from the Sentul station said Syarikat Prasarana Negara Berhad (Prasarana) should look into providing more parking space as the situation was getting from bad to worse.
“With the rising cost of living, many are trying to save in any way they can. Using public transport is one way to cut expenses but the current lack of parking space and exorbitant parking fees at some stations are a major deterrent factor.
“I spend RM6.80 to travel to and from work by LRT. I try to go early to park at the public parking lot nearby to avoid paying the parking fees because it would defeat the purpose of saving money. My workplace is only about 10km from my house but the parking fee there is also very expensive,” she said.
“Commuters should not be charged for parking their cars at this LRT station because the space is small and there is no security feature. There is only one man at the entrance collecting the money,” she said.
“With very few parking bays available, vehicles are forced to park at every little space available within the parking area, always almost double its capacity.
“If you are late, the car park is full and you are forced to park elsewhere,” she added.
Another regular LRT passenger, Sharifah Amalina Syed Abu Hanifah said the open-air carpark near Taman Jaya station had hiked its parking rate to RM12 per day, making it a very expensive affair to take this mode of public transport.
“It used to be RM6, then it was increased to RM7, RM10 and now RM12!
“I do not see the reason for this fee increase as the parking lot still looks the same. The road is still filled with potholes and looks like it hasn’t been tarred in years.
“There is no shelter for the cars. In addition, this place is very dark at night with no proper lighting or security guard.
“I pay RM12 for parking plus RM4.20 for my LRT trip to KLCC. That’s almost RM20. I might as well drive all the way to KLCC where it would cost the same for parking at the open-air parking there.
“And I think there are many people just like me, who opt not to take the LRT because of the steep parking price and inconvenience,” she pointed out.
Bukit Bandaraya Residents Association chairman Datuk M. Ali said the few parking bays at the Bangsar station, which are on a first-come, first-served basis, were often taken up by those working nearby.
“Commuters park at nearby complexes or open-air carparks but the charges are on hourly rate and can become expensive. One open-air carpark charges RM4 an hour,” he said.
Prasarana head of media affairs Azhar Ghazali said enforcement on illegal parking was under the jurisdiction of the police and local authorities.
“Though we are looking at finding a solution to the parking woes, we are challenged with the lack of land to provide more bays.
“At the moment, we have one multi-storey Park-and-Ride complex and 15 at-grade Park and Ride facilities. (refer to table)
“The carparks are all being outsourced to various parking operators who will operate and maintain the bays as well as ensure the safety of the motorists.
“For the multi-storey Park-and- Ride facility in Gombak, the promotional fee is a flat rate of RM4 per entry until the end of the year and entry is by using MyRapid card only.
“For other at-grade Park-and-Ride facilities, the fee is RM3 per entry. Commuters can use cash at these facilities.
“Should there be areas where no charges had been collected or the rate is other than RM3 per entry, chances are the area is owned and operated by other parties,” he explained.
Prasarana supports the public transport services by operating the LRT, Monorail and bus services. Within Klang Valley and Selangor, all three services are operated under the brand name of RapidKL.
Operation-wise, the LRT and monorail services are managed by Rapid Rail Sdn Bhd and the bus services by Rapid Bus Sdn Bhd.
Commuter Dahlila Kamat, who takes the LRT from Gombak to KLCC station and enjoys the newly built Park-and-Ride facility, said RM4 was a small price to pay for convenience and security.
“Before this complex was built, either my husband drops me off at the station or I come early and park at a hilly area and pay a RM3 fee, Now I do not need to worry about parking as I can get parking space at any time of the day,” she said.
She highlighted an incident recently when she dropped her MyKad near her parked car. She said the security guard at the Park-and-Ride complex had seen it and left a note for her on the car windscreen to retrieve her identity card from him.
Another commuter Ahmad Khairul Nizam Khairuddin, who occasionally takes the LRT, also feels RM4 is a reasonable fee with the assurance of better security for the commuters and their vehicles.
“My friend’s car was stolen from the parking lot near one of the stations early this year.
“Before this complex was built, this carpark was just gravel and surrounded by a lot of undergrowth in the area, making it unsafe. With this new Park-and-Ride complex, I do not mind leaving my car here,” he said.