Monday, 30 September 2013

(The Star) Johor to take over building of homes

Excited: Prospective buyers looking at a model of the affordable apartments at Taman Molek during the launch of the project by Mohamed Khaled.  

JOHOR BARU: Instead of waiting for years for developers to build affordable and low-cost houses, the state has decided to build the houses and send the bill to the developers. 

State housing and local government exco Datuk Abd Latiff Bandi said that the move was to meet the rising demand for such houses within Iskandar Malaysia. 

“We are in the midst of gathering details on errant developers within Iskandar Malaysia through the various district offices. 

“Developers who fail to build such houses will be questioned and if they still refuse to do so within a given time frame, the state government will take over the building of such homes and charge the developer for it,” he said. 

“Some of these developers completed building their other housing projects as early as 1990 and have left the land plots for the construction of low-cost or affordable housing vacant. 

“Our task now is to determine who these errant developers are andtake the necessary action against them,” he said. 

Abd Latiff added that each lowcost unit would be sold at about RM40,000 while affordable houses were priced at a maximum of RM150,000 each. 

He added that the state was also going to take proactive measures against developers that might have gone bust or cannot be contacted.

Abd Latiff added that another new proposal that would be introduced was to make it compulsory for developers to build low-cost houses and affordable housing simultaneously with their other high end projects. 

“This is to ensure that the problem does not recur in future,” he said. 

He added that the policy would start with developments within Iskandar Malaysia and would be extended to the rest of the state in 2014. 

Meanwhile, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin warned that the state would not hesitate to freeze the entire development projects of property developers if they continued to ignore calls to build low-cost and affordable houses. 

Besides freezing the projects, their names would also be made public. 

He said the state government had approved the building of over 180,000 units of affordable houses since 1999, but only 21,000 units were built by the developers. 

Mohamed Khaled said the Johor Baru district had the highest numbers of cases with 113,000 units, followed by Kulaijaya with 40,000 units, Batu Pahat with 11,000 units and the balance in other districts. 

“We are serious in tackling the issue of providing affordable houses in Johor. 

“No developers will be left off the hook,” Mohamed Khaled said at the groundbreaking ceremony of the 630 units of affordable apartments priced at RM150,000 per unit at Taman Molek by Tanjung Bintang Sdn Bhd.

(The Star) UK fashion makes a splash

Big crowd flocks to Debenhams’ first outlet in Penang

We’re proud to bring the best of British products to Penang and offer locals great quality, value and style. — ANDY JACKSON 
RENOWNED British fashion chain Debenhams has arrived in Penang and is set to make its mark on local wardrobes. 

Treat for fashion lovers: Models sashaying down the runway in the latest British trends during the Autumn/ Winter 2013 fashion show at Gurney Paragon Mall. 

It unveiled its Autumn/Winter 2013 fashion show at Gurney Paragon Mall, held to mark the opening of its first Penang store at the mall. 

Models paraded in many of the show’s inhouse labels. showing off collections such as Jonathan Saunders’ Edition, which featured bold prints and colours.

Ben de Lisi’s Principles was a versatile range ideal for casual lunch dates to evenings out, while Matthew Williamson’s Butterfly line provided a stunning mix of eclectic styles. 

There was a sprinkling of glamour from Julien Macdonald’s Star label and this contrasted with the edgy and fun H! by Henry Holland range. 

In his speech, Debenhams Malaysia managing director Andy Jackson said the store opening added another chapter to the centuries of links between Penang and Britain, starting with the arrival of Captain Francis Light in 1786. 

“Eight years before that, the first incarnation of Debenhams opened in London,” he pointed out, referring to a small store along Wigmore Street in the English capital’s West End. 

“We’re proud to bring the best of British products to Penang and offer locals great quality, value and style,” Jackson said during the event on Wednesday. 

The brand’s international operations director Phil Topham said they strove to offer a unique mix of apparel catering to various needs. 

The store in Gurney Paragon is Debenhams’ 238th in 28 countries, and was launched by Jackson, Topham, Holland and British High Commission representative Tony Collingridge after the catwalk show. 

This follows the opening of stores in the Libyan capital of Tripoli and Estonian capital of Talinn. Topham said another was slated to open in the Saudi Arabian coastal city of Jeddah next month. 

Jackson also teased that another store would be opening next year in the Klang Valley, with the company aiming to have eight stores in Malaysia within the next 10 years.


(The Star) MP: Terminate concession, let UDA redevelop land

The dilapidated structure has been left standing all these years, posing a danger to the public. — JOHARI ABDUL GHANI 

TITIWANGSA MPDatuk Johari Abdul Ghani, wants the Government to take back the Pekeliling Flats land from its appointed developer in order to speed up the development process. 

Johari said the developer, Asie Development Sdn Bhd, was dragging its feet on the project. 

“The land title is still in the Government’s name although the developer has been awarded the concession to redevelop the land,’’ Johari said. 

“As such, the Government can terminate the concession and retake the land,’’ he said, adding that taking 12 years to redevelop Pekeliling Flats was just too long. 

“Even worse is that the dilapidated structure has been left standing all these years, posing a danger to the public. 

“The Government must ensure all abandoned buildings are demolished fast, and not wait for problems to be resolved first,” he said. 

Johari, who is also UDA Holdings chairman, said that UDA was willing to resolve this matter and was keen to redevelop the place. 

“Our focus is to build affordable homes for young executives, costing between RM350,000 and RM400,000.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Institute of Planners (MIP) president Professor Datuk Dr Alias Abdullah agreed with Johari. 

“If UDA can redevelop it, why not let them? It is a good idea,’’ Alias said. 

“I believe UDA can build affordable homes there. Perhaps they should be given a higher plot ratio to make some profit,’’ he said. 

“They should probably lock prices between RM300,000 and RM350,000, and ensure that at least 50% to 60% are for those looking for affordable homes,’’ he said, adding that whatever the outcome, the land must be developed as soon as possible. 

(The Star) Abandoned for too long

City Hall told to demolish remaining blocks of flats by year end

A top-down demolition exercise using a crane will be used to demolish the buildings. No explosives will be used.
THE Government has directed Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to bring down the five remaining blocks of the dilapidated Tunku Abdul Rahman Flats, popularly known as Pekeliling Flats in Jalan Tun Razak by end of the year. 

Eyesore: the remaining five blocks of pekeliling Flats have been left to rot after the last of its tenants vacated in 2008. 

Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansur said DBKL had been instructed to speed up the process by engaging a contractor to carry out demolition work. 

“We are concerned that this matter has been left unattended for too long. The buildings have been left to rot and the area has not only become an eyesore but a refuge for drug addicts and vagrants in the city,’’ he said. 

Tengku Adnan added that DBKL would demolish the building first, and that the developers would have to bear the cost for the work. 

“Safety is our priority right now. The abandoned buildings pose a danger to the public,’’ he said.

Tengku Adnan added that he was concerned that leaving the abandoned structures standing for too long would cause them to fall apart. 

When contacted, Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Phesal Talib said safety was their biggest concern. 

“That is why we are looking for the right people to carry out the demolition exercise,’’ he said. 

In response to whether explosives would be used to demolish the building, Ahmad Phesal said, “A top-down demolition exercise using a crane placed at the top of the 17-storey structure will be used to demolish the buildings downwards. No explosives will be used.” 

For many years, the mayor’s office has come under fire for not resolving the Pekeliling Flats problem.

Since the land was involved in a legal tussle, the authorities did not want to get involved. 

In 1995, the Government decided to redevelop the flats as part of its urban renewal programme to refurbish brown field areas in the city.

The developer, Government appointed Asie Development Sdn Bhd, was awarded the project to redevelop Pekeliling Flats.

Dilapidated: Most of the doors and windows in the building are missing panels. 

However, the flats have been vacant since Dec 31, 2008, after the last of its tenants relocated. 

But Asie Development has yet to submit any plans for the redevelopment project. 

In a StarMetro report last year, it was stated that the 46-year-old building, which was initially supposed to be demolished in 2010, had been left idle due to a legal tussle. 

The building has since become a hot bed for crime and unsavoury activities. 

Apart from vagrants and drug addicts, foreign workers have also made this place their home. 

The public has also turned the area into a huge rubbish dump. 

Despite numerous complaints from the public, DBKL has not been able to tackle the matter as the building was a private property. 

StarMetro visited the site recently, and found that compared to last year, the mounds of rubbish had increased, and many were strewn all over the place, including the empty rooms. 

Trees and shrubs are also thriving inside the building, peeking out from the broken windows and doors while graffiti cover many of the walls. 

Clothes that had been left to dry could also be seen outside, a sign that the place had been used as shelter by the destitute and homeless.

The area’s concrete playground, built in the late 1960s, is now covered with thick undergrowth. 

Privatisation and redevelopment plans for the flats were announced in early 1995, and an estimated 8,000 to 12,000 residents were relocated in two phases. 

The developer began demolishing Block A and B at the end of 2005 after most of the residents from the 11 blocks moved out, mostly to the Taman Sri Rampai flats in Setapak. 

In some previous reports, it was stated that the area would see a redevelopment project called Taman Sari. 

The project was part of the Government’s urban renewal efforts to provide residents with better housing and living condition. 

Pekeliling Flats was one of the earliest housing projects in Kuala Lumpur. 

The 11 blocks of flats were built between 1964 and 1967. 

Meanwhile, in a recent StarMetro report, the decision to redevelop the Pekeliling Flats into a commercial centre has received mixed reactions from the public.

Many city folks interviewed recently want the Government to consider redeveloping the flats into an affordable housing scheme instead. 

(The Edge) Overwhelming response to Mah Sing’s Savanna

KUALA LUMPUR: Mah Sing Group Bhd has received overwhelming response for the Savanna Executive Suites, the first phase of its Southville City@KL South township in Bangi.

The group launched its Southville City sales gallery in Nouvelle Hotel, Seri Kembangan last Saturday. It also held a private balloting for registrants of Savanna Executive Suites, which attracted approximately 2,500 guests.

According to a statement from Mah Sing, a total of 1,068 units of the Savanna apartments valued at RM351 million were pre-selected within eight hours last Saturday.

The by-invitation-only event was opened to registrants who collected their ballot numbers on Sept 21. Members of the public were able to pre-select their units yesterday.

Savanna Executive Suites offers freehold three-bedroom suites with built-ups from 956 sq ft and is indicatively priced from RM280,000.

Phase 1B comprising 766 units in Tower B1 and B2 were 90% booked. Due to the overwhelming response, Phase 1A, which also has 766 units in Tower A1 and A2 was opened later in the day. They were 50% booked within the same day.

In view of the keen interest, Mah Sing intends to open another two Towers while the Lifestyle Retail Lots @ Savanna with an indicative price from RM1.3 million onwards will also be available for pre-selection next week.

“Savanna Executive Suites is the first phase of Mah Sing’s Southville City. Southville City answers market demands for affordable housing for the middle-income group and yet, offer that special touch of class and distinction in each component of the township,” said Mah Sing’s chairman Jen Tan Sri Yaacob Bin Mat Zain (retired).

(The Edge) Scientex expands landbank in Iskandar Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Scientex Bhd has expanded its landbank in Iskandar Malaysia with the acquisition of 19.6ha in Kulai, Johor, for RM28.5 million.

This latest acquisition brings the group’s total undeveloped land to 414.1ha, of which 372ha are located within Iskandar Malaysia.

The packaging manufacturer and property developer plans to launch new property projects with a gross development value of RM600 million in Johor and Melaka for the 2014 financial year ending July 31. 

(The Edge) KUB subsidiary bags RM39m hostel contract

KUALA LUMPUR: KUB Malaysia Bhd’s wholly-owned subsidiary KUB Builders Sdn Bhd has accepted a RM39.17 million contract from UMP Holdings Sdn Bhd to build a student hostel in Universiti Malaysia Pahang, Gambang.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia last Friday, the company said the tenure of the project is for 48 weeks from Sept 11, the date of site possession.

It said the contract would contribute positively to the company’s earnings and earnings per share for the 2013 financial year ending Dec 31, but will not affect the issued and paid-up share capital, as well as KUB Malaysia’s assets per share and gearing.

(The Star) SERI KEMBANGAN: Overwhelming response

More than 2,500 people at Mah Sing’s Southville City@KL South launch 

Crowdsourcing as a viable alternative for local players

Property-based Mah Sing Group Bhd (Mah Sing) has launched its Southville City@KL South sales gallery last Saturday.

Southville City@KL South will be home to 17,500 people when completed. 

Following the launch, a private balloting for registrants of Savanna executive suites, phase one of Southville City@KL South was held, which saw 1,068 units of Savanna executive suites worth RM351mil pre-booked in eight hours of the balloting event. 

More than 2,500 guests turned up for the event. Present to launch the event was Mah Sing chairman, Gen (R) Tan Sri Yaacob Mat Zain, executive director Datuk Lim Kiu Hock and chief operating officer for marketing and sales, township residential James Bruyns. 

Mah Sing, in a press statement, said the the first phase of its largest township so far, Savanna executive suites, offers freehold three-bedroom suites with built-up from 956 sq ft and indicatively priced from RM280,000. 

The units have upgraded features of two carpark bays, four units of air conditioners, two water heaters and two shower screens. 

Phase 1B comprising 766 units in Tower B1 and B2, was 90% booked and due to the overwhelming response, Phase 1A, which also has 766 units in Tower A1 and A2, was opened later in the day. This phase was 50% booked within the same day. 

In view of the keen interest, Mah Sing intended to open two more towers and the Lifestyle Retail Lots @ Savanna with an indicative price from RM1.3mil which would also be available for pre-selection next week. 

“Savanna Executive Suites is the first phase of Mah Sing’s Southville City @ KL South. One of our largest township projects, Southville City@ KL South meets market demands for affordable housing for the middle-income group yet offers that special touch of class and distinction in each component of the township,” said Yaacob. 

“The keen interest shown in our property signifies the trust and support the public has on Mah Sing Group and its products,” he added. 

The 428-acre Southville City@KL South with the estimated gross development value of RM5.15bil is accessible with the proposed direct interchange from the North-South Highway and only 30-minute drive from the KL city centre. 

Yaacob noted, “The development concept of Southville@KL South is ‘connectivity’, which forms the framework for an exciting communal living environment. 

“We are making this integrated township ‘walk-friendly’ with a 13km pedestrian footpath-cumbicycle track that connects the entire neighbourhood. There will be a riverside walk, nature trail and even a nine acres urban park.” 

Uponcompletion, Southville City@ KL South will be home to 17,500 people and provide seamless and rounded lifestyles for different family sizes. Upcoming phases will have properties for the upgrader market like linked semi-D, semi-detached and bungalows.

Mah Sing plans to build close to 70% of the residential component at below RM1mil per unit to meet the strong market demand for bread and butter properties. 

(The Edge) Har Len unit to sell land in Sabah for RM185m

KUALA LUMPUR: Har Len Corp Bhd’s wholly-owned unit Uniglobal Sdn Bhd has proposed to sell two parcels of plantation land in Lahad Datu, Sabah, to Boustead Rimba Nilai Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned unit of Boustead Plantations Bhd, for RM184.59 million cash.

Boustead Plantations is a wholly-owned unit of Boustead Holdings Bhd.

Har Len said in a filing to Bursa Malaysia the disposal of the 2,409.8ha land would provide it with an opportunity to unlock the value of its plantation estates in Lahad Datu.

(The Edge) Pudu Jail site lures developers

KUALA LUMPUR: UDA Holdings Bhd has received an encouraging response from developers for its proposed transformation of the former Pudu Jail site into a mixed development, dubbed Bukit Bintang City Centre (BBCC).

Group managing director Ahmad Abu Bakar told The Edge Financial Daily that 24 top developers had attended the concept briefing last Monday and shown keen interest. The briefing was followed by a visit to the 7.85ha site.

The group is waiting for the developers to submit proposals for the joint development of the land.

“Those who are keen to participate are given two months to submit the RFP request for proposal documents,” said Ahmad, adding that BBCC’s gross development cost is estimated at RM3 billion to RM4 billion, while its gross development value (GDV) could reach as high as RM7 billion.

“If the RFP shows us better alternative plans which could give us higher returns, we wouldn’t mind using their concept,” he said.

UDA has certain criteria that must be met by the developers who want to jointly develop the project.

“They must have a strong track record of having completed at least RM3 billion worth of projects in the past, and with revenue of at least RM500 million a year. Their finances must be strong.

“We are going to have one main partner to work with us at the top, and below we can have special purpose vehicles to do the other developments, whether it’s the hotel, office or condominium,” said Ahmad.

According to the 7.85ha site’s master plan, the former prison will be converted into an iconic mixed development project which will include eight towers consisting of a hotel, office towers, shopping complex as well as commercial and residential blocks.

Ahmad said UDA’s committee members have worked for almost a year and a half to come up with the master plan which will also include a transit hub.

“We want an iconic building. It’s going to be green and it has to be energy-efficient. It is going to be an interesting place, plus it’s the last big piece of land in Kuala Lumpur,” he said.

The master plan for BBCC with an estimated GDV of up to RM7 billion was submitted to Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur in March and the group is expecting approvals by the end of the year or early next year.

While most of the development components would be sold, Ahmad said UDA is keen to retain the ownership of the shopping complex and the parking bays as these could generate recurring income for the group.

In terms of the project’s architectural concept, UDA is considering keeping the iconic Pudu Jail gate by incorporating the structure in its designs. According to Ahmad, the consultants are tweaking the design to blend in the structure.

On a separate project, UDA has been in talks with several parties on the proposed redevelopment of the Bukit Bintang Plaza (BBP), which houses the group’s head office.

“Ideally of course we want to redevelop this [BBP] because it is within the golden triangle. It is high time we do something better here,” said Ahmad, adding that the BBP has been around since the 70s.

BBP was initially slated for demolition to pave the way for a mass rapid transit (MRT) station underneath the building. However, due to the building being attached to Sungei Wang Plaza, it will most likely not be demolished.

Ahmad said he does not mind the integration of the MRT station below BBP as it will increase traffic into the shopping complex. As the construction will take a few years, citing safety reasons, the group is considering reallocating its head office.

“If it gets worse, we can move out of the building and later we could convert the building into service apartments, hopefully with the MRT below, too.

“Initially, the MRT is supposed to integrate with us but now a box station is being built in front. But in the future there is still a possibility to integrate with the station when we redevelop this building”.

Ahmad said there has been talk that the Bukit Bintang station will be the last to be built and the construction of the MRT will take three to four years to complete.

UDA meanwhile, will launch six projects simultaneously on Oct 5 in Terengganu, Perlis, Penang and the Klang Valley, which have an estimated GDV of RM184 million.

The properties offered by UDA in these areas range from shop offices to semi-dees and bungalows with a price tag from above RM500,000 each.

For these launches, there will be a 100% bumiputera allocation for the commercial units and 75% for residential units.

Currently, UDA has pockets of land all over the country of slightly less than 1,000 acres (400ha). The group is considering selling some of the smaller parcels or jointly developing them with other developers. This will enable the management to concentrate on the bigger land parcels that it owns, said Ahmad.

(BUSINESS TIMES) Zawara weaving its way into overseas markets

KUALA LUMPUR: Clothing brand Zawara, which aims to be one of the country's top producers of women clothings, is spreading its wings abroad.

Its chief operating officer Fadilla Abd Karim said in a strategic move to tap the world's most populous Muslim market, Zawara will open its first overseas outlet at Bandung In-dah Plaza in Bandung, Indone-sia's fashion capital, next month. 

Zawara has also launched its online portal, which provides free delivery to its Indonesian clients.

On the homefront, besides its flagship outlet at Menara Mara in Kuala Lumpur, Zawara has outlets in Shah Alam, Bandar Baru Bangi, and recently in Johor Baru because of strong demand in the southern region.

Besides offering women modest yet chic wear, Zawara also provides business opportunities to aspiring fashion entrepreneurs.

Its dropship programme (a retailing practice of sending items from a manufacturer directly to a customer) allows online entrepreneurs to trade Zawara products without the risks of unsold inventory and logistic nightmares.

"Our online e-dealers will be given a personalised Zawara account. They only have to use the banners provided by us in their blogs and share the products they would like to promote through their Facebooks, emails or other social media," she said, adding that no capital is required from the e-dealers.

Fadilla said once a customer makes a purchase via the web portal, the e-dealers will get a 10 per cent profit on net sales.

"We will handle all deliveries, returns and packings while the e-dealers can monitor their sales and account in real time and see their business grow," she explained.

Elaborating on the brand, Fadilla said Zawara's goal is to provide an extensive line of modest women dresses for a variety of occasions. 

Rising hems and lowering necklines may constitute a large part of what fashion is today but Zawara believes that for every revealing style, there is a covered up but yet stylish alternative.

"There is a misconception that if clothings are modest, they are boring, outdated and lacking in personal style. We here at Zawara disagree."

Fadilla said the company's web store,, should be an essential shopping destination for every fashionista as it offers access to the hottest looks of the season.

It is also the first fashion website to introduce the virtual fitting room in Asia, where customers can try on the clothes from the comfort of their homes using Zawara virtual fitting room, powered by the latest state-of-the-art augmented reality technology.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

(The Star) KDU to open branch campus in Batu Kawan

A KDU University College branch campus will be established on part of a 4.05ha plot in Batu Kawan. 

In a statement, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state government and Penang Development Corporation (PDC) had been going all out to promote quality education. 

In line with this, the state has agreed to sell 12.14ha of its land for the purpose of setting up two institutions of higher learning — KDU University College and a future university in Batu Kawan. 

Lim said that 4.05ha had been set aside for the development of the two universities, and 8.09ha for mixed development. 

“The land was sold to Paramount Corporation Berhad which is the parent company of Paramount Property and the KDU Education Group,” Lim said on Thursday. 

“The corporation is required to obtain approval from the relevant authorities and complete this development at its own cost.” 

He added that KDU’s proposed branch was expected to be set up in five years, and it was planned to be on the mainland close to the second Penang bridge.

The new KDU campus will offer degree courses in engineering, accounting, business, hospitality, culinary studies and tourism as well as pre-univeristy studies. 

“This is the second university project in Batu Kawan following the announcement on Tuesday that the University of Hull from the UK would be setting up their new campus by 2017,” Lim said. 

The University of Hull campus will be offering courses in law, accounting, logistics, enginnering and business. 

PDC wants to complement the rapid industrial and housing sectors in Batu Kawan. 

“KDU College Penang is also working towards getting a University College accreditation.” 

Lim said that the effort was in line with the vision of the Education Ministry to make the state and the country a centre of higher education excellence. 

(The Star) Integrating work and play - New office development set for launch in bukit Jalil

Ho Hup Construction Company Bhd says its Aurora development in Bukit Jalil, an integrated smart office, versatile office (Sovo) project, is set to be the embodiment of today’s multi-functional offices.

Artist’s impression of aurora Sovo, atop the aurora Place, hybrid mall.

“It is probably the only project in the Bukit Jalil township that offers entrepreneurs and investors an integrated work and play concept, all in one,” said Derek Wong Kit Leong, executive director of Ho Hup.  

“Aurora Sovo sits on top of Aurora Place, a hybrid mall comprising retail and commercial development, now under construction. The hybrid mall was launched end of last year and is 97% sold. The strong uptake of Aurora Place was an indicator that there is still substantial demand for this category of property in Bukit Jalil.  

“After the launch of Aurora Place, we called for registration from interested potential buyers. The response was overwhelming and reaffirms our assessment that demand is still strong. Thus we decided to launch Aurora Sovo, which is to be built atop Aurora Place.”  

Sales of the 209 units will be launched on Monday.  

“When we went to the concept board to design the Sovo we considered the needs of entrepreneurs, young urban professional as well as independent businesses. We wanted our offer to be an office and at the same time a place for relaxation that compliments the modern and revolutionary lifestyle. That is reason for building the 18-storey tower on top of the hybrid mall,” Ho said.  

The project also takes into consideration factors such as affordability and right-sizing to meet current business and professional needs. The Sovo units range from 601 sq ft to 1,305 sq ft, and they are priced from RM682 to RM738 per sq ft. Total gross development value of the project is RM110mil.  

Construction of the 18-storey Sovo tower is expected to be completed in october 2017 or 48 months from the date of the sales and purchase agreement.  

Wong said Ho Hup believes Aurora SoVo will be sought after by investors as it is strategically located in the fast growing township of Bukit Jalil. It should be noted that under the Kuala Lumpur Masterplan (2020), which was formulated in 2002, Bukit Jalil was designated as an “international zone” with a view to encourage both foreign and local investments into the area.  

Today, Bukit Jalil can lay claim to being the home of several major projects such as the Technology Park Malaysia, the Bukit Jalil Golf and Country Club, the International Medical University, Astro Bhd, the National Sports Council, the Asian Football Confederation Headquarters and the Bukit Jalil Sports School.  

More significantly, Aurora Sovo will be supported by a major commercial development on the adjacent 50-acres that would be jointly developed by Ho Hup and Malton Bhd over the next 10 years.  

The project is also located within close proximity to the extended LRT line from Bukit Jalil to Kelana Jaya and would eventually be linked by five major expressways: Kesas, Bukit Jalil Highway, Maju Expressway, North-South Highway, Damansara-Puchong Expressway to Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya, Puchong, Subang Jaya, and the KLIA.  

In conjunction with the launch on Monday, Ho Hup has put together a sales package that offers a special “early bird” surprise, developer interest subsidy scheme, an interior design renovation package, and waivers on the legal fees for sale and purchase agreements and loan agreement. 

(The Star) All under one roof - Development places family and health front and centre

MULTI-generational homes look set to become the next big thing in today’s property development scene. 

Well laid out: the interior of the araGreens residences show unit. the homes will come semi-furnished.

As young families become more preoccupied with balancing hectic work schedules with family time, it helps to have the whole family under the same roof. 

Doctors-turned-developers Dr Lim Yin Chow and Dr Soo Chee Siong had long searched for the ultimate housing solution for families of all ages under one roof. And their years research culminates in HSB Development’s latest project, AraGreens Residences’ Multi-Generations Homes concept. The development will sport resort-like landscaping with clubhouse facilities that are suitable for all ages, making it an “ageproof” concept. 

“This age-proof multi-generation home is the first of its kind in the region. It has a resort-like atmosphere with 26 facilities designed for all ages. The development is also enhanced with the implementation of the MediHome system, a suite of devices and services that enables residents to access and monitor their health status within the comfort of their homes using a smartphone or through a website. 

“This makes AraGreens Residences a truly unique home not only for young couples to stay but suitable for all age groups,” said Yin Chow, HSB Development chairman. 

AraGeens Residences also features a unique dual-key concept, which is designed for families to stay together under one roof with their parents or in-laws, without compromising on their privacy. 

The dual-key unit consists of two separate units sharing a common main entrance. Both the main and ancillary sections are self-contained with its own living space, bathroom and kitchen. 

Families with elderly parents will find the dual-key concept the perfect solution of caring for them by having their elderly live just next door, embracing the unique concept of “living together, separately”. 

“The home is designed to enable one to stay in the same home from infancy all the way to old age without the need to move around so that one can continue to live in the same familiar environment,” said Soo. 

“AraGreens Residences is designed to be obstruction-free with the physically-challenged in mind. Doors and corridors are generously wide and the bathrooms are spacious. Shower areas are designed to include a built-in bench for seating and the floor is laid with matt-finished tiles to reduce the risk of slipping on wet floors,” said the CEO of HSB Development, Seth Lim. 

AraGreens Residences also feature clubhouse standard holistic lifestyle recreation facilities catering to the needs of all age group. 

About 63.4% of the land area is reserved for greenery and community recreations areas, one of the highest allocations for such areas in the market today. Young children will find a children’s pool, splash zone, playground, indoor playroom irresistible. 

For the adventurous, active teenagers and young adults, AraGreens is equipped with street a soccer/futsal court, basketball court, multi-purpose hall, and extreme-sport facilities such as a skate park and rock-climbing wall. Adults and senior citizens will enjoy the 50m Olympic length swimming pool, putting green, tennis, badmin-badminton and squash courts, golf simulator and gym.

The older generation will be able to relax in the refreshing herb garden, eco pond, meditation pool, and exercise zone. Residents of all ages will be able to enjoy get-togethers and family events at the barbecue areas, poolside dining, reading room, game room, karaoke and the 1.4km network of jogging paths ideal for the active ones or fitness enthusiasts. TherewillatalkonMultiGenerationtitled“Living Harmoniously”bySethLim todayandtomorrowat11am attheAragreensSalesGallery inAraDamansara,PJ(Tel0378436188/www.aragreeens. com).Allarewelcome. 

after years of seeking housing solutions for multi-generational living, yin Chow (left) and Seth decided to use their collective knowledge to develop araGreens to could address an underserved niche. 

HSb development Sdn bhd CeO Seth Lim explaining the sustainability features of araGreens, which complies to Green mark Singapore and Green building Index malaysia standards.

(The Star) Balik Pulau to house Hakka Village

An artist's impression of the Balik Pulau Hakka Village
After six years of detailed study and meticulous planning, the Federation of Hakka Associations of Malaysia’s dream to build a Hakka Village in Balik Pulau, will soon come true. 
Its deputy president Datuk Dr Cheah See Kian said the village was set to be the first of its kind in Malaysia and second in the world after that in China. 

He said its groundbreaking would take place on a 8.09ha land near Jalan Kuala Sungai Pinang. 

“After many discussions, we think that the Hakka clan is rather universal. It is a collective cultural heritage that most people can develop and promote. 

“That is why we decided on the theme ‘Hakka Village’ for the new tourist attraction-cum-ecological spot to match the multifarious elements and social needs of Balik Pulau. 

“We are very grateful to the Penang Government for approving this development project within a short span of six months. 

“We are now in the process of submitting detailed drawings to the authorities and the project’s construction is expected to start by year end,” he said during the Penang Khek Association’s 74th anniversary celebration dinner at the Han Chiang High School on Sunday. 

Dr Cheah said the village would also see the construction of a modern hotel designed according to the conventional earthen building which was a prominent feature of the Hakka culture. 

He said: “The round-shaped building will also house the Balik Pulau cultural museum and art gallery for trilingual exhibitions.” 

In his speech, Dr Cheah, who is also the Balik Pulau Hakka Village Committee chief planner, thanked the various entrepreneurs and consortiums who had financially con- 

an artist’s impression of the Hakka Village project in balik pulau, penang. tributed towards the entire project costing more than RM20mil. 

“Despite being an enterprise investment project, we are ready to create a vital and cultural attraction to draw tourists from around the world to the area. 

“The project will also involve a collaboration with a Taiwan university’s College of Hakka Studies to establish a Hakka cultural base as a resource centre for academicians,” he added. 

Other features of the Hakka Village would be a restaurant selling Hakka food, a hawker centre selling local delicacies and souvenirs as well as a bicycle track and man-made lake for recreational purposes, he said. 

“We have also preserved a durian farm where nutmeg, clove and rubber are also planted to showcase Balik Pulau’s natural heritage. 

“The setting up of such a village, which will take up to five years to complete, will commemorate the Hakka community’s contributions and the role it has played in Penang’s history for over 150 years.

“A fieldwork and research in Balik Pulau by some Taiwanese Hakka scholars showed that Balik Pulau is indeed a settlement area for the early Hakka clan. 

“The Hakka dialect is widely used to such an extent that the catholic church in Balik Pulau used it to recite the Bible verses in the early days,” he said.


Twin Towers is most-favoured site

In a random survey of Klang Valley residents, they almost unanimously listed the Petronas Twin Towers as their favourite attraction.  

Drawing much interest: the KL City Gallery is among the top spots listed by respondents living in the Klang Valley.  

Paul Sebastian, 39, a teacher, picked KLCC as the top attraction because it had a bit of everything from shopping to food and even a scenic park.  

“KLCC is iconic. It comes with all the modern amenities and services and is a wonderful all-round destination for the whole family,” the fatherof-one said.  

Teo Tian Leong, 54, a tourist guide, agreed and added that KLCC was also at the top of the list for many foreign tourists.  

Teo, who has been a tourist guide since 1989, said many foreign tourists immediately identified the twin towers with Kuala Lumpur, just like the Eiffel Tower was synonymous with Paris and the Statue of Liberty with New York.  

The second favourite attraction in the survey was KL Tower, located along Jalan Bukit Nanas. The tower is the highest viewpoint in Kuala Lumpur that is open to the public.  

“KL Tower is a must-visit because you get to see an unhindered 360° view of the city. On a clear day, the view from the top is amazing. At night, it is equally gorgeous as you see all the city lights,” said Daniel Yap, who is in his 20s.  

The third spot in the survey was spread out to different locations but boiled down to one thing — food.  

The respondents chose Jalan Alor, Bukit Bintang and Petaling Street as their top attractions by virtue of the food that is available mainly at night.  

“Malaysians are well-known for their love of food. It is no surprise then why the food courts and restaurants are among their favourite destinations,” Eric Phua, 23, said.  

Malaysians also love to shop and as such selected Mid Valley, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Central Market and l petronas twin towers l KL tower l Kuala Lumpur botanical Gardens l National mosque l aquaria KLCC l petronas philharmonic Hall l Jalan alor l petaling Street l Central market l Kuala Lumpur City Gallery Petaling Street as their top shopping attractions.  

As for favourite night spots, Zouk KL, the Changkat Bukit Bintang area, Jalan P. Ramlee and Bangsar were among their top picks.  

A 30-year-old housewife, who declined to be identified, said she preferred Changkat Bukit Bintang among the lot because of the outlets were next to each other and there were more locals there compared to those along Jalan P.Ramlee.  

Student Samuel Francis, 14, the bird and butterfly parks in Kuala Lumpur Botanical Gardens are among his favourite attractions in the city because of his love for nature. 
The other top attraction spots listed by the respondents include Taman Tasik Titiwangsa, National Mosque, National Monument, Kuala Lumpur City Gallery, Aquaria KLCC, Putrajaya and the Petronas Philharmonic Hall. 

(The Star) Giving old places a new feel

DBKL identifies key attractions for rejuvenation in bid to boost tourism THE regeneration of older city attractions is necessary for Kuala Lumpur to grow and evolve, said mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Phesal Talib. 

Going smoothly: ahmad phesal inspecting the progress of the canopy project at perdana botanical Garden.

He said the rejuvenation of the city’s older areas was a long-term project for sustainable urban development. 

“We must continue to reinvent and rejuvenate our city’s old world charms because it is a selling point to promote tourism.” 

He said it was necessary to sell the city’s “old world charm” to help promote Visit Malaysia Year 2014. 

“It is our duty to ensure that older areas in Kuala Lumpur are constantly upgraded and developed so that visitors will keep coming back,” he added. 

Ahmad Phesal said Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) had identified several key areas in the city to carry out the regeneration projects. 

“We have identified areas such as Leboh Pasar, Jalan Kenanga, Jalan Alor, Petaling Street, Lorong Haji Taib and Chow Kit,” he said. 

“Special incentives will be given to business operators in these areas, such as budget hotels, so that they will work with us and contribute towards this move, which will also help spur business there.” 

“This is not about politics, this is about economics, and it is my duty as mayor to continue rejuvenating the city,” he added. 

Ahmad Phesal also announced the upgrading of the Indian enclave of Lebuh Ampang. 

Known for its goldsmith and textile shops, Lebuh Ampang has the potential to attract visitors because of its pre-war character, which would appeal to tourists. 

“Unfortunately, those characteristics are lost amid the signboards, the rubbish and traffic congestion in the area. 

“With some upgrading, we hope to preserve Lebuh Ampang while making it a must-see for tourists,” he stated. 

Some of the proposed improvements by DBKL include upgrading the pedestrian walkways to make them more disabled-friendly. 

Streetlights will also be affixed to the buildings, leaving more space on the walkway. 

The shops’ signboards will be upgraded and building owners are encouraged to repaint their buildings to reflect the area’s character. 

A history board will be put up with background information on the place and landscaping carried out to complement the area. 

A month ago, the mayor came under fire when he unveiled plans to transform Jalan Alor into a worldclass street food paradise. 

Certain groups had claimed that the project favoured the Chinese community and that it was racially slanted. 

The groups had demanded that the project be cancelled, some of them also calling for the mayor’s resignation. 

However, Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor had said the project would go on as scheduled as promoting Jalan Alor greatly benefit the Golden Triangle. 

“The area will be cleaned up. It will be economically beneficial and will boost tourism,” he was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, on the Perdana Botanical Lake Garden project, Ahmad Pesal said phase two was progressing well, with 35% of the canopy project under way. 

The whopping RM43mil upgrading project involves building a 3,100 sq mcanopy, which is mounted on four pillars. 

He said the canopy, which was unique to the park, was being built to complement its surroundings and incorporates the trees around it. 

“We did not cut a single tree for this project and it will be as if it is part and parcel of the surrounding greenery,” he said. 

Apart from that, Ahmad Pesal said the boathouse would also be upgraded, a project that was expected to be completed by February next year. 

(The Star) Hunza goes for commercial jobs

AFTER its Gurney Paragon project, Hunza Properties Bhd plans to focus on the development of commercial projects on the island and in Seberang Prai. 

The group plans to start a RM7bil commercial city project in 2015 in Bayan Baru in the south-west district, a RM700mil commercial-cum-residential development in Juru, and a hotel in Tanjung Tokong. 

Group executive chairman Datuk Khor Teng Tong tells StarBizWeek that the commercial city project, to be located on 16.1ha in Bayan Baru, would take 10 years to complete. 

“There will be at least two four-to-five-star hotels, a shopping mall, college, high-end condominiums and office towers. 

“We have engaged Australian and Singaporean architects to provide consultation on the design and concept of the project,” Khor says. 

The shopping mall would be twice the size of the present Gurney Paragon shopping mall. 

The project site is four times the size of the Gurney Paragon land. 

“We are now building 690 units of flats to relocate the squatters on the site,” he adds. 

While the group had expected the Gurney Paragon project to place Hunza in Penang’s development spotlight, the Bayan Baru project would propel Hunza to the national level, according to Khor.

The group expects demand for high-end schemes in Penang to rise, as the infrastructure on the island is improving with the completion of the second bridge, slated by October.

“There is also the RM8bil infrastructure package which includes the 6.5km undersea tunnel project linking Gurney Drive and Bagan Ajam, the 4.2km Gurney Drive-Lebuhraya Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu bypass, the 4.6km Lebuhraya Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu-Bandar Baru Air Itam bypass and a 12km road connecting Tanjung Bungah and Teluk Bahang, which are being planned to take the infrastructure in Penang to the next level,” Khor says.

The group is also planning a high-end hotel project in Tanjung Tokong, according to Khor.

In Juru, the group plans to develop a RM700mil commercial-cum-residential scheme which will include a RM60mil to RM70mil four-star hotel on 14.9ha.

“This will be the group’s first hotel, which will have 250 to 300 rooms. The scheme also includes a hypermarket, leisure facilities, and commercial and residential properties,” he says.

Khor says the planning proposal for the scheme would be submitted to the local authorities soon.

“We hope to commence work by the third quarter of 2014. The whole project will take three to five years to complete.

“The hotel will be managed by professionals and will provide steady revenue stream for the group besides the Gurney Paragon Mall,” Khor adds.

On the group’s residential schemes, Khor says it will launch the RM500mil Alila 2 project on 4ha in Tanjung Bungah next year.

“There will be 270 condominium units. We will apply for the green building index and construction quality assessment system certifications for the project.” 

In Seberang Prai, the group has launched in the third quarter some 173 two-storey terraced houses in Bandar Putra Bertam, Kepala Batas.

“The project has to date achieved sales of more than 50%,” he adds. 

(The Star) Pavilion Group sees Mont'Kiara property making a comeback

Bre ath taking: The view from Pavilion Hilltop.

Bre ath taking: The view from Pavilion Hilltop.

MONT’KIARA property hasn’t had the best luck since the 2008 financial crisis, but all that may change if demand for the Pavilion Group’s newest residential development is any indication.

Phase one of Pavilion Hilltop, released in April, saw a 100% takeup within two months, and the response to phase two has been no less impressive, with bookings touching 40% prior to the official launch several weeks ago.

At this rate, phase two is expected to sell out before year-end, and the final block launched by early next year, its marketing consultant tells StarBizWeek.

“The takeup was a surprise to us. It was like Banyan Tree Signatures all over again,” enthuses Tracey Lai, director of 1 Pavilion Property Consultancy Sdn Bhd.

The Banyan Tree Signatures, the local offshoot of renowned resort and spa operator Banyan Tree, featured luxury private residences tucked into a 55-storey tower in the heart of Bukit Bintang.

The project was previewed to much fanfare two years ago and snapped up just as quickly, setting the benchmark price for Kuala Lumpur’s Golden Triangle at RM3,000 per sq ft – a record it holds till today. 1 Pavilion Property Consultancy also handled marketing for Banyan Tree Signatures.

Artist's impression Pavilion Hilltop

An artist’s impr ession of Pavilion Hilltop from the ground floor.

Pavilion Hilltop, with a gross development value of RM1.18bil, is being developed by Permata Cermat Sdn Bhd, a joint venture of the Pavilion Group – best known for the Pavilion KL – and Kuwait Finance House.

Sitting on six acres of prime freehold land – one of the last few remaining undeveloped tracts in the tony Mont’Kiara neighbourhood – the high-end Pavilion Hilltop comprises three blocks and 621 units.

Sizes range from 1,200 sq ft to 2,874 sq ft, while prices start at RM900 per sq ft or RM1.1mil, which is the going rate for new developments in the area, Lai explains. Completion is slated for 2017.

The three towers, each at least 30 levels high, command a panorama of the city, the King’s Palace, KLCC and even Genting Highlands, given its location on the highest point of Mont’Kiara, Lai says.

“A lot of the buyers were repeat customers,” she quips. “We take this as proof that people still believe in the Mont’Kiara story.”

The sizes were also key. None of the units in Pavilion Hilltop come below 1,200 sq ft.

Lai: ‘A lot of the buyers were repeat customers’.

“We made a deliberate decision to stay away from shoebox sizes,” Lai explains. “Our customers want to live, and not just invest, there.”

Although some may find the large units and accompanying price tag a put-off, Lai believes the sales figures speak for themselves.

“Our buyers are very savvy. It’s interesting that our 1,500 sq ft and 1,800 sq ft units were more popular than the 1,200 sq ft ones. We hit the right sizes.”

And as any reputable developer will know, it’s all in the details, Lai points out.

“People enjoy full-sized, luxuriant bedrooms that are like suites. We trimmed our 1,800 sq ft units to 3+1 rooms, which gives us space for a large master bedroom.”

This being a Mont’Kiara abode, Pavilion Hilltop’s amenities are none too shabby. Housekeeping, concierge, a café, kindergarten, and a shuttle to Pavilion KL are among the value-added services its owners can look forward to.

Instead of penthouses, Pavilion Hilltop is opting for 17 ground-floor villas that open up to the gardens and swimming pools.

The prices for these villas – all of them duplex suites with built-ups of over 3,000 sq ft – begin at RM3.4mil.

Market too hot?

Lai is all too aware of the bubble that had hit Mont’Kiara hard. But that is firmly a thing of the past, she insists.

“Before we launched Pavilion Hilltop people were talking about an oversupply in Mont’Kiara. Everyone was waiting to see how we would do,” shares Lai, herself an ardent proponent of Malaysian properties.

“Based on our market research, absorption is strong in the secondary market. Mont’Kiara is no longer a speculator’s haven. It used to be the property play.

“Speculators kept buying and making money. When the crisis came, they were left high and dry. Subsales literally came to a standstill in 2008-2009. Yet people fished for a good buy, which is what happens in a down market.

“The crisis is over now and you see a new balance emerging. Buyers have come back in full force.”

The market, Lai stresses, has flushed out much of the speculation.

“We learnt the hard way. The 1997 crisis was the first big kick. A lot of investors went under. In 2008, on the other hand, there were hardly any distress sales, especially for high-end property. The banks didn’t declare huge non-performing loans.

“The apartments that went for lelong (bank auction as a result of bankruptcy) were mostly foreign-owned.”

KLCC and Mont’Kiara, she points out, bore the brunt of the bubble bursting. Nonetheless, KLCC has bounced back and is hitting RM2,800-RM3,000 per sq ft now, Lai says.

Relatively new condominium units in Mont’Kiara can fetch rents of RM4 per sq ft, she notes, even as prices in less established suburbs are fast catching up.

A recently launched high-rise in Kota Damansara, for example, retailed for RM1,000 per sq ft, while Cheras, Bukit Jalil and Subang Jaya are not far off the RM700-RM800 per sq ft mark.

Property prices in expatriate-heavy Mont’Kiara, by contrast, have stagnated since the subprime crisis. What does this mean for buyers? To Lai, there are no two ways about it – Mont’Kiara is poised for more upside.

When the music stopped at the height of the meltdown, the value of homes there fell to RM800 per sq ft, and bottomed out at RM700 per sq ft. Prices have since normalised to RM800-RM900 per sq ft, with new launches touching RM1,000-RM1,200 per sq ft.

“We priced Pavilion Hilltop at a good level, which still allows for upside for our buyers. That is why the take-up was so phenomenal,” Lai explains.

(The Star) Weida in talk to acquire prime land in Kuala Lumpur

Weida (M) Bhd, which will launch its maiden highrise residential project in Ara Damansara, Petaling Jaya today, is in negotiations to acquire a piece of prime land in Kuala Lumpur for mixed development.  

Managing director Datuk Lee Choon Chin said the 2.84ha-land would be ideal for residential, retail and office development with potential gross development value (GDV) close to RM1bil.  

“Negotiations with the landowner is currently into mid-way and a deal could be struck within six months,” he told StarBizWeek after the company’s AGM.

Lee said the Ara Damansara project – Urbana Residences – with a GDV of RM231mil would comprise 356 service apartment units in a 15-storey block.  

He said the units would be priced from about RM500,000 to RM1.2mil (penthouse) with floor area between 807sq ft and 1,200sq ft.  

“Their designs and layouts are efficiently done. Even for the smallest units, you will find them to be spacious.  

“Urbana Residences will have various recreational facilities and amenities with a green environment living setting,” he added.  

Construction work for the project is expected to start next month and the units would be ready by 2016.  

According to Lee, Urbana Residences is well-connected to highways, shopping complexes and golf courses. It will be sited next to an upcoming convention hall and hotel project.  

He said about 3,000 potential buyers had registered when prebooking for the apartment units opened three weeks ago.  

The developer is targetting both foreign and local buyers, particularly the younger group.  

Lee said Weida group was expected to launch its second residential development – a high-rise condominium project – with GDV of RM330mil in Mont’ Kiara next year.  

The group is expected to borrow RM114mil, including bridging loans, for the two projects. The other source of financing will be internal fund estimated at RM51mil.  

With the group’s diversification into property development, he said the new business was forecast to contribute about 30% to group revenue by the fifth year.


(The Star) Scientex pays RM28.5mil for parcels in Kulai to build affordable residential homes

Scientex Bhd has bought two parcels of freehold land in Kulai, Johor, from Pine Plantation Sdn Bhd for RM28.5mil, bringing its total undeveloped landbank to 415ha. 

Of its total landbank, 373ha are located within Iskandar Malaysia in Senai, Skudai, Kulai and Pasir Gudang, while the remainder 42ha are located in Malacca. 

Scientex plans to build affordable residential homes on the two lands, which measure a total of 19.59ha. The lands are only 1km from Kulai town as well as a major shopping mall. It is within 2km to the North South Highway via the Kulai toll plaza. 

“Even before this new acquisition, our landbank was sufficient to sustain the group for the next 10 years. We have a pipeline gross development value (GDV) of RM4.6bil, comprising high-end and affordable residential properties, as well as commercial and industrial product offerings,” said managing director Lim Peng Jin in a statement. 

Scientex is currently undertaking projects worth some RM836mil in GDV on its lands in Pasir Gudang, Kulai, Skudai, Senai and Malacca. 

The industrial packaging manufacturer and property developer intends to launch projects worth RM600mil in GDV in the financial year ending July 31, 2014 (FY14). 

“Scientex is no stranger in the Kulai property market, having developed affordable housing in our 102ha Taman Scientex Kulai since 2008. With Iskandar Malaysia’s growing proposition as a thriving business and commercial hub, it has continued to attract much attention from property buyers in Malaysia and the region. Therefore, we opine that Kulai is now more receptive of innovative property concepts,” added Lim.

The company intends to fund the acquisition through internal funds. 

For FY13, revenue from its property development division stood at RM310mil, representing about 25% of its total revenue of RM1.2bil. 

As at the end-FY013, Scientex’s unbilled sales stood at RM307.8mil, which would be recognised over the next two to three years. 


(The Star) Boustead buys land for RM184.6mil

Boustead Holdings Bhd’s unit, Boustead Rimba Nilai Sdn Bhd, is buying 2,409.8ha of oil palm plantation tracts in Lahad Datu, Sabah, for RM184.6mil.  

In a Bursa Malaysia announcement, Boustead said it was buying the two parcels of land to expand its oil palm activities in Malaysia, and that the purchase was not expected to materially change the risk profile of the group.  

The land was bought from Uniglobal Sdn Bhd, whose directors are Low Nam Hui, Low Quek Kiong, Low Kwee Lee and Low Kueck Shin.  

“The sale and purchase agreement (SPA) shall be conditional upon the vendor obtaining the approval from its board of directors and shareholders, and the purchaser obtaining the approval from its board of directors. The SPA shall become unconditional on the date when the last of the approvals is obtained,” the company said.  

The purchase would be funded via internal and external funds, of which the ratio had yet to be determined, it added.  

The proposed acquisition is expected to be completed three months from yesterday. 

(The Star) 1MDB embarks on Penang affordable housing project

The federal government has proposed to redevelop the Rifle Range flats.

 WHILE Penang’s soaring property prices have become a conversational topic, the federal and state governments have pledged to make affordable housing available on the island.

On Tuesday, 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), a government-owned development company, bought 9.5ha from Farlim Group (M) Bhd for RM112.5mil through one of its subsidiaries. The deal marks 1MDB’s first public land deal in Penang, and when contacted by StarBizWeek, the company says it is part of 1MDB’s plan to develop affordable housing in Penang as announced earlier.

During a visit to Penang in May, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that the federal government will build 2,222 low-medium cost houses and 1,111 affordable houses in Air Putih, Air Itam and Paya Terubong. It was a pre-election political pledge to the people of Penang by the federal government.

A property developer reckoned that the affordable housing scheme could cost about RM300,000 per unit, depending on the development. 

“If assuming the plot ratio is four, then it will work out to RM50 per sq ft of gross floor area. Construction cost circa 200 per sq ft, and that would work out to a total development cost of RM250 per sq ft.

Therefore cost of a three bedroom 1,200 sq ft unit would be around RM300,000. This is just the cost price,” he says.

He, however, said development cost could come down to RM150 per sqft if its based on a lower cost structure.

If we scrutinise the deal more, the said land is strategically situated within an established township known as Bandar Air Itam (formerly known as Ayer Itam) and is sited at the north-eastern part of the island. 

“This township is located along Jalan Air Itam and Jalan Paya Terubong, the main thoroughfares leading to the Kek Lok Si temple as well as the Penang Hill funicular railway station,” says Farlim in a filing on Tuesday.

But the main caveat for 1MDB is that the land is presently occupied by squatters and structures comprising residential units (semi-concrete, concrete, wooden and zinc houses), foundries, temples, a recycle centre, factories, workshops and shops.

Simply, that would mean more time and capital exhausted to relocate these squatters to other suitable areas.

The company might have to allocate a number of units as settlement, narrowing down the supply of units for eligible owners. 

From past experience, dealing with squatters is a sensitive issue as people have a natural resistance to change and eviction notices aren’t welcome. 

“This might just be the beginning of high density flats ala the Singapore Housing Development Board (HDB) flats style,” says a market observer. 

Speculation is also that 1MDB could be snapping up remaining portion of the land from the other owners, as Farlim have just a fraction of ownership rights to the said three parcels of land. 

Farlim did not respond to queries by StarBizWeek over the identity of the other owners of the said land.

The Penang state government has earmarked seven projects in August for affordable housing where 4,145 low-medium-cost, 3,148 medium-cost homes and six shoplots would be built.

Meanwhile, the federal government has also proposed to redevelop the Rifle Range flats, Penang’s first affordable housing project. However, this is still pending approval by local authorities. 

When the Rifle Range flats were completed in the early 1970s, they were the tallest buildings in Penang.

The units in the nine blocks of 16-storey dwellings were only about 400 sq ft and provide housing for some 25,000 people.

Besides its property venture, 1MDB has also gone extensively into the energy sector, buying up power plants to beef up its cash flow.

It currently holds 100% of Powertek Energy Sdn Bhd and 75% in Jimah Energy Ventures Holdings Sdn Bhd and Kuala Langat Power Plant Sdn Bhd (KLPP), respectively, involving an investment totalling RM12bil.

1MDB had acquired Powertek and KLPP in a portfolio of power plants with a total generating capacity of 4,600 MW in Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Egypt, Sri Lanka and Abu Dhabi.

1MDB is also known to be actively bidding for a 2,000MW coal-fired power plant, dubbed Project 3B, as well as other greenfield and brownfield developments in the region.

It is taking the lead in the development of government land in prime areas of Kuala Lumpur. Some 70 acres in Jalan Tun Razak, the project of which is likely to be delayed, will be shaped into a financial district called the Tun Razak Exchange, while the old airport in Sungai Besi, renamed Bandar Malaysia, is being converted into a mixed development.


(BUSINESS TIMES) Scientex buys Kulai land for RM28.5m

KUALA LUMPUR: Scientex Bhd has expanded its landbank in Iskandar Malaysia with the acquisition of 19.6 hectares of land in Kulai, Johor, for RM28.5 million.

This latest acquisition brings the group's total undeveloped land to 414.1ha, of which 372ha are located within Iskandar Malaysia.

The packaging manufacturer and property developer plans to launch new property projects with a gross development value (GDV) of RM600 million in Johor and Malacca for the current financial year ending July 31 2014.

Scientex is currently undertaking projects with a GDV of RM836 million on its existing land in Pasir Gudang, Kulai, Skudai, Senai and Malacca.

Managing director Lim Peng Jin said Kulai was now more receptive of innovative property concepts given Iskandar Malaysia's growing proposition that attracted property buyers.

He said the group plans to launch affordable landed residential projects on the newly-acquired land, adding that the acquisition will be financed by internal funds. Bernama

(BUSINESS TIMES) KLIA-KLIA2 railway line ready

KUALA LUMPUR: The 2.2km railway line extension from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (klia2) is ready, way ahead of the completion date of the country’s new hybrid airport in May next year.

Express Rail Link Sdn Bhd (ERL) chief executive officer Noormah Mohd Noor said only final touch-ups are needed.

“We are now installing the ticketing system at the gates and self-service kiosks,” she told Business Times at a recent railway conference.

The opening date for klia2, which is now a hybrid airport as it will accommodate AirAsia X’s business-class passengers, is May 2 next year.

ERL has a 30-year concession to operate the KLIA Express and KLIA Transit trains between KL Sentral in Brickfields, here, and KLIA.

YTL Corp Bhd, which controls ERL, is extending the railway line from KLIA to klia2 for about RM100 million. Work on the extension started in July 2011.

The ERL station at klia2 will be located at gateway@klia2, the transportation hub-cummall developed by WCT Bhd.

Noormah said the railway line extension will increase ridership by 40 per cent to 7.4 million passengers when klia2 opens.

Business Times reported that YTL is talking to Spanish and Chinese train manufacturers to buy up to four train sets, comprising four coaches each, for RM150 million to serve klia2.

The existing railway line from KL Sentral to KLIA is served by 12 electric high-speed trains.

The trains were acquired from German-based Siemens AG.

Friday, 27 September 2013

(The Star) Golden Bridge over Sarawak River holds a lot of promise

KUCHING: The city can look forward to the construction of the Golden Bridge that is expected to further encourage integration between communities on both sides of Sarawak River. 

Recently launched by the chief minister, the project is due to be completed by the end of 2015. 

Named the Golden Bridge in recognition of Sarawak’s 50th year of independence from British rule, it measures 400m and looms 12m above the water.

The bridge spans the Sarawak River from the State Legislative Assembly building in the north to the Charles Brooke Memorial near the iconic Kuching Waterfront viewing tower in the south. 

The S-shape structural design is inspired by the meandering rivers in the state and will soon be a unique venue for cocktail parties and themed events. 

Moreover, visitors to the city can expect to cruise in style with the launch of the catamaran cruise, with a capacity of 75 that will ferry tourists or convention delegates to Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK). 

Locals have been commuting via river transportation in their daily activities, and the state hopes to promote this to tourists as well. 

An alternative mode of transport for convention delegates to BCCK, the boat would also take tourists who wish to visit Medan Niaga Satok in Kubah Ria, or for locals to hold events or receptions aboard. 

For more information, visit theme-party-ideas/


(The Star) Welcome to the new Hillcity Hotel

At your service: Hillcity Hotel in Gunung Rapat, Ipoh.  

Refurbished establishment boasts up-to-date facilities and increase in occupancy rate Hillcity Hotel, which underwent refurbishment of its rooms, opened its doors to the public recently. 

Morubina Group of Companies group managing director Datuk Ting Sing Yiew said the hotel that was established in 1998 underwent renovation works of RM2mil last year to add new life and soul to it.  

He said the 100 newly refurbished rooms with up-to-date facilities had shown an increase in occupancy rate.  

Ting said after Hillcity Hotel, the company developed the new jewel in town, the Kinta Riverfront Hotel and Suites.

He said now that the Kinta Riverfront Hotel was on track, the attention was back on Hillcity Hotel, to give it a boost.  

The hotel industry in Ipoh was booming, with a number of new hotels mushrooming in the city, he added.  

“We always believe in healthy competition that helps stimulate the city’s development and enhance the influx of tourists to Ipoh.  

“Hoteliers and relevant government agencies should work hand-inhand to promote tourism,” he said in his speech before Datuk Bandar Datuk Roshidi Hashim officially reopened the hotel last Saturday.  

Ting said the hotel had its own charm, along with its magnificent panoramic view of Ipoh’s limestone hills. 
He added that the recreational garden fronting the hotel, known as the Junglewalk, was also well maintained by the Ipoh City Council.

An auspicious event: Roshidi (in yellow batik shirt) feeding the ‘lion’ an orange at the reopening of the hotel. On his right is Ting.  

“Much more can be done to beautify the landscape of the Riverwalk fronting Kinta Riverfront.  

“Morubina Group made its first move in 1995 and transformed the virgin jungle into a fine recreational garden, now known as the Junglewalk. It was then handed over to the council in 1999.  

“We hope both the Junglewalk and Riverwalk will prevail as another main attraction, supplementing the popular D.R. Seenivasagam, the Sultan Abdul Aziz and the Gunung Lang recreational parks,” he added.  

Ting urged more investors to invest in hotels as well as in the tourism sectors in Ipoh, to contribute to the growth of the industry there.  

Perak had many places and tourism attractions that could be capitalised on, he added. 

(The Star) Bayan Baru and Bayan Lepas earmarked for BPO development

ATOTAL of 1.7 million sq ft of office space is expected to be built and completed as the new business process outsourcing (BPO) hub in Penang within the next three to five years. 

Towards high-income economy: Lim speaking about the master plan for the BPO hub. Beside him is his special advisor Datuk Lee Kah Choon. 

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state government had set aside about 6.88ha of land in Bayan Baru for Phase 1 and Bayan Lepas for the next BPO hub under Phase 2. 

“Part of the master plan is to develop BPO office towers, serviced apartments, commercial units, SOHO with top class amenities and facilities,” said Lim during the Second Shares Services & Outsourcing Conference in G Hotel recently. 

He said having the BPO hub was essential here because Penang, which does not offer any natural resources, has talent and work force. 

“This is important because it will elevate Penang’s status to become a high-income economy as well as improving the status of the people, especially the middle-income group,” he said.

Lim cited the example of the Citigroup Transaction Services Malaysia here which is the largest Citigroup regional Trade & Cash processing centre handling at least 20 million transactions with a total of RM18.27 tril across the business. 

“Today, 1,300 professionals are employed at the centre and servicing the interest of customers around the world,” he added.

He also said that all these would not be possible if the state could not offer the necessary facilities such as schools, hospitals and leisure outlets.

Lim stated that many multinational companies had chosen Penang over Kuala Lumpur because of the high quality of living at a lower cost.