Saturday, 30 November 2013

(The Star) RM2.2bil Star Boulevard planned in KL

The Government’s efforts to cool the property market may deter investors temporarily. However, there’s no stopping the burgeoning new developments in Kuala Lumpur.

Currently, a property project that is gaining traction at the Central Business District is Star Development, a mixed development comprising three towers of residential condominiums, and its retail segment – Star Boulevard, five blocks of retail units – at Jalan Yap Kwan Seng.

The project with a gross developmental value of RM2.2bil is undertaken by Alpine Return Sdn Bhd, a 50:50 joint venture between established property players Symphony Life Bhd (previously known as Bolton Bhd) and United Malayan Land Bhd (UM Land).

“This commercial development will complement KLCC and the surrounding malls in this shopping belt in KL,” Alpine Return chief operating officer Alan Koh tellsStarBizWeek.

The three blocks of fully-fitted condominiums will each comprise four categories – 1-bedroom, 1+1-bedroom, 3 bedrooms and 4 bedrooms – with Tower 1 averaging 650 sq ft, and the subsequent towers averaging 750 sq ft.

“Mostly bite-size units, for ease of renting out,” Koh says.

Each block to be launched over three phases, the first would be Tower 1 at 57 storeys – one of the tallest in the vicinity – and comprise 557 units.

The indicative starting price for units in this tower would be approximately RM1,500 per sq ft (psf).

The second and third towers will be launched in the fourth quarter next year and the third quarter in the following year, respectively.

Koh says that the pricing for those subsequent blocks will be higher, ranging between RM1,800 psf and RM2,000 psf.

“Our pricing is very affordable. For now, most developments in the KLCC vicinity cost between RM2,000 psf and RM3,500 psf. Note that Star Residences will be one of the tallest high-end residences in the area,” Koh says.

Star Development is being built over a four-acre car park and Koh attributes the affordability of the property to a “low acquisition of the land”.

Star Boulevard will be a six-storey signature retail food and beverages and entertainment hub with an approximate total net lettable area of 130,000 sq ft.

“It will be the first hub in the country featuring international specialty food outlets from all over the world. Imagine a famous cuisine house from Hong Kong, among many others. It would make an exciting treat,” Koh says.

Maintenance charge for the residential segment would be RM0.40 psf, and RM0.50 psf for the retail lots. In terms of concept and design, Koh intends for Star Residences to stand out like the Petronas Twin Towers.

Unique scultures, artefacts as well as water features and green landscaping are to enhance common areas, with special attention paid to the drop-offs at each tower and at the podium.

Working with the local tourism ministry, Star Boulevard will sport a 200m-long walkway.

Similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Star Boulevard’s will feature local and international artistes.

“We’ve spoken to the authorities about it and they are excited about it. For now, final approvals are pending,” Koh says.

“We are still in the planning stages, following which, we will work with entities to see how we can collaborate.”

The development’s concept might seem reminiscent of the international chain of W Hotels, as Koh himself drew inspiration – literally – from the one in Taipei, Taiwan.

His mind brimming with the exuberant colours he saw in the public areas there, Koh committed his ideas onto a piece of paper one afternoon.

In his words, “plenty of colour in public areas” set his creativity ablaze.

“I sat down one and sketched out the flagship star design,” Koh says, displaying a photographed copy of the eponymous original on his iPad.

The design would be used as the development’s logo – an artistic dotted mapping of a star with a clover in the middle.

“It’s symbolic of luck,” Koh says of the design, which will be widely used in the architectural façade.

Star Development’s primary target group would be working- to middle-aged professionals, with a secondary market of expatriates, investors and suburban families who want a weekend respite in the city, Koh says.

The development will be well-connected with proximity links: a two-minute walk to the light rail transit and proposed mass rapid transit stations (both in KLCC), a 43-minute drive to the KL International Airport in Sepang and a 2- to 20-minute walk to Avenue K, Suria KLCC, Pavilion KL, Starhill and Lot 10.

Star Boulevard is slated for completion in the first quarter of 2018, and Star Residences, a year after.

(The Star) MK Land plans new launch

PETALING JAYA: MK Land Holdings Bhd is planning to launch at least RM500mil worth of properties next year, depending on market sentiment.

Chief executive officer Lau Shu Chuan told reporters following a shareholders’ meeting that the planned launches would very much depend on the market.

“RM500mil is a conservative figure. This could go up to RM700mil if the property market is good,” he said, adding that the company still had around 2,023ha of land in the Klang Valley, with 101ha in Damansara Perdana and the rest mostly in Perak.

Lau said the real property gains tax would have “some impact” on the market in the immediate term, but would smoothen out in the longer term.

He dismissed the worries over rising household debt (of which 55%, according to rating agency Standard & Poor’s, comprises mortgages), pointing out that it was not the only measure of the overall indebtedness of the country.

Lau said that while the debt warranted attention, it could not be denied that the debt was backed by tangible assets.

“You see, the good thing about this is that if you were a banker, the financial assets are actually two times the exposure. This means that for every dollar of debt, you have two dollars worth of assets backing it. Although you have 80% of household debt to gross domestic product, most of these debts are actually secured debts,” he said.

“This is an almost two times cover! So, don’t get so worried and say that the country is going to go under – no.

“I think the property market would do well,” Lau added.


(The Star) The complex market of property

Jumping on the property bandwagon.

NOT many people know that the biggest property players in the country started off doing something else. A good example is Mah Sing Group Bhd, the second largest property company in terms of sales, which began as a plastic manufacturer. And S P Setia Bhd’s roots are in the construction industry.

Then there was the wave of plantation companies capitalising on their land bank to become property developers. IOI Corp Bhd comes to mind.

But while S P Setia, Mah Sing and IOI are known to have been successful in their venture into property, there have been others who failed miserably.

Prior to the 1997 Asian financial crisis, a property craze swept through the local corporate scene.

Many second board listed companies, as they were known then, decided to jump on the bandwagon by venturing into the seemingly lucrative business of property development.

Not only was selling brisk due to demand, but project financing was also easily secured.

One of the major funders for property developers then was Malaysia Building Society Bhd (MBSB).

Then came the financial crisis and MBSB almost went bankrupt, only to be bailed out by the Employees Provident Fund, which explains why the pension fund today owns 70% of MBSB.

The second boarders also suffered massive losses from these property ventures and until today, there are remnants of abandoned projects across the country that are testament to the building frenzy that started at that time.

New landmark: Fitters has completed a project with GDV of RM650mil called the Festival City Mall in Kuala Lumpur.

One example of a company that ventured into property during that period is Bonia Corp Bhd.

The leather goods retailer went into the property business in the late 1990s. However, barely a decade later, it restructured its business divisions again, completing the disposal of all of its non-core property assets.

Now a new similar wave is taking place – small companies, driven by easy profits that property development seems to offer, have ventured into the business.

Property cycle

Maybank IB Research analyst Wong Wei Sum tells StarBizWeek that it is an alarming sign as business owners without the core competency in property are jumping on the bandwagon.

“It is a sign that the property cycle is at its peak when too many non-experts jump on the bandwagon,” she says.

She adds that the non-developers could create an oversupply in the market with the wrong products if they did not carry out their studies diligently or execute their projects efficiently. But a market expert seems to think that there is a positive side to this.

Henry Butcher Malaysia president Lim Eng Chong opines that the market should encourage this kind of competition as these small players will be forced to distinguish themselves from other developers.

“There are always certain market sections that have yet to be filled by the big boys as the latter may have a different focus like mass production or big-scale project,” he says.

These companies can always hire consultants and outsource expertise to help them with the development, he adds.

Maybank’s Wong concurs.

“There are exceptions whereby companies with good assets partner with property developers to carry out projects.

“This will create a win-win situation as the landowner would be able to realise the value of the property projects as well,” says Wong.

Lim says that as a growing nation, demand will increase over time and with the stricter regulations imposed by the Government and related authorities, the housing industry should continue to improve over time.

Diversification move

This is one of the tenets Datuk Richard Wong, major shareholders and managing director of Fitters Diversified Bhd. Originally a fire-fighting equipment and services company, it had taken the decision to diversify its income stream in 2008, with property being one of its new divisions and the other being renewable energy.

Fitters has already completed a project with gross development value (GDV) of RM650mil called the Festival City Mall.

Wong says,“Property development can be lucrative if you identify the right location, product mix and sales strategy. We have tasted success with our maiden development project with the achievement of RM650mil GDV”.

He reckons that this sets Fitters’ apart from other newcomers in the sector. “They may not have this track record,” Wong says, adding that “Being niche and selective will ensure that we focus on the quick completion of our projects as well as capping and controlling construction costs.”

Wong agrees that newcomers to property could be facing challenging times, due to increasing raw material prices, the new measures by Bank Negara and the scarcity of labour.

Wong says Fitters strategy has also been to outsource to professionals such as architects and planners and to have a core, competent team to manage this.

Long gestation period

An industry player reckons that some of the newcomers will be badly impacted by potential slow down in the property sector.

“The gestation period for property development is very long and it is capital intensive and it may not be as easy as it seems for people who have not been in the industry.”

He says the nature of the business is cyclical and the point of entry for new comers is crucial. He also points out that buyers may be more selective and opt to buy from reputable developers following the recent cooling measures.

Clearly, factors like land costs will determine the profitability of these niche developers.

In a previous interview with StarBizWeek, Scientex Bhd managing director Lim Peng Jin says as a rule of thumb, land cost should not exceed 10% of GDV and it would not go for expensive land. Scientex, which started as a PVC leather cloth maker, ventured into property, which it now continues to pursue.

As for Weida (M) Bhd, a building materials specialist that ventured into property a few years ago, the new curbs are welcome as they will “ensure the property development industry continues growing at a balanced and sustainable pace,” saysVictor Lee, a director of its property division. “The industry is perpetually going through changes and challenges. The recent rulings introduced by Bank Negarasuch as the abolition of developers interest bearing scheme or DIBS, changes in real property gains tax and loan-to-value ratio are just some of these challenges. Having said that, our management feels that these risks are manageable”.

Lee adds that in Weida’s case, the property sector is a “long-term and viable industry to be in.”

“The country’s macro picture and demographics reveals a largely young population who will continue to fuel the sector.”

He adds that Weida has the right expertise and it picks its landbank carefully, in “prime and mature” locations. But while these new breed of property developers claim to have the right ingredients to succeed in the property game, the jury is still out as to whether all of them will succeed.


(The Star) Five new property players

Festival City Mall, one of Fitters Diversified Berhad’s developments.

FITTERS Diversified Bhd started as a fire-fighting equipment and services company. But in 2008 it set its eyes on the property market. Major shareholder and managing director Datuk Richard Wong tells StarBizWeek that “the company had a clear intention of diversification to seize viable opportunities to enhance the sustainability of business” in 2008. Two business areas were identified for this: property and renewable energy.

In 2009, Fitters embarked on RM650mil GDV project called the Festival City Mall, a three-storey shopping mall located along Jalan Genting Kelang, and which was built for client, the Parkson Retail Group. The project also included Soho/work suites and residential apartments – which were fully sold and are due for handover to buyers next year. In August, Fitters launched 284 units of condominiums called ZetaDeSkye@Jalan Ipoh with an estimated GDV of RM180mil. It will also embark on a RM300mil GDV development of affordable housing on 50 acre.

Earnings wise, the property division is bringing in the income: Wong puts the figure at 50% of revenue and 60% of profit for FY2013 and predicts that the property business will continue to be viable, contributing 40% of revenue and profits.

Asdion Bhd

HEAD honcho at Nextnation Communication Bhd Tey Por Yee has been buying up stakes in a string of companies since the end of last year.

The market has described him as “an opportunist” but it is only recently that the rationale of two of his purchases have become clear.

In September, it was revealed that Asdion Bhd, in which Tey is the largest shareholder, will partner with Protasco Bhd, where he has become the second largest shareholder – to embark on a property development project in Johor Baru.

Protasco is essentially a construction and property firm while Asdion is an information technology firm which makes software. In early September, Asdion said that it would diversify its business to include property investment and development.
The parcels of land in question are located within Mukim Plentong, said to be near Iskandar Malaysia.
In explaining its rationale, Asdion says there is no assurance that the group will be successful in adapting to advances in technology or in addressing changes in customer needs on a timely basis.

Therefore, the board has identified the proposed joint venture with Protasco as a new business opportunity and to reduce the group’s dependency on its existing business.

The proposed joint venture is expected to contribute 25% or more to the net profits of the group, says Asdion.

Asdion concedes that there is “inherent’ risk to this venture.

Asdion was listed in 2005 on the then Mesdaq market, one of the many software companies taking advantage of the “sofware and IT craze” of that era.

It never quite made it as one of the stars among its Mesdaq peers, partly owing to it being a generic accounting software maker. It has also since slipped into the red.

Asdion has also proposed some corporate exercises, including one free warrant for every 10 shares held by its shareholders as well as a private placement of up to 35% of the company’s paid-up capital.

Caely Holdings Bhd

PERAK-BASED lingerie manufacturer Caely Holdings Bhd has completed its diversification into property development and construction early this year.

In July, it announced a joint venture with a private company to develop an abandoned project in Gombak with a GDV of RM155.3mil. It took over the project, which comprises of three blocks of condominiums on leasehold land, for RM7.4mil.

The company said the venture was part of its strategy to expedite the expansion of its property development business while it also marks its foray into the Klang Valley property market. Its venture into property development was in 2011 when it bought 21.4 ha in Batang Padang, Perak to build 181 shops and 304 units of linked, semi-detached and bungalow units worth RM145mil.

Later that year, Koperasi Peserta-peserta Felcra Malaysia Bhd offered the company to build 300 residential units and relevant infrastructure works in Seberang Perak. Subsequently, it was appointed the turnkey contractor for the project with a contract value of RM47.94mil.

Managing director Datuk Alan Chuah reportedly said property development could be its main income contributor going forward, contributing to more than half of its total revenue in the next two years. The division accounted for RM23.66mil or 23.33% of its total revenue for its financial year ended March 31, 2013.

Digistar Corp Bhd
INFORMATION and communications technology firm Digistar Corp Bhd, which recently introduced a hi-tech central monitoring system known as Panther 911 that will contribute to its recurring income from the financial year ending Sept 30, 2014 onwards, is also focusing on its property division.

Group chief executive officer Datuk Wira Lee Wah Chong has expressed his vision to set up another public-listed company for its property arm.

It secured its maiden contract, a RM250mil private financing initiative for a government training centre in Malacca this year. For this particular project, Digistar has a 40% stake. The construction job, with expected completion by early 2016, will also provide earnings flow for the firm as it will operate and maintain the facility for the next 12 years.

Last year, it launched its maiden condominium project at the Malacca city centre. Located across Equatorial Hotel and Dataran Pahlawan in the World Heritage City,

The Heritage Service Apartments, has a GDV of RM150mil. Response for the development was good, recording transaction prices of RM930 to RM1,200 per sq ft.

For its first nine months, property development contributed RM14.83mil or some 31% to its revenue compared with about 7% in the corresponding period a year ago.

Iris Corp Bhd

E-PASSPORT maker Iris Corp Bhd is no stranger to the market, having had its news-making moments.

While most will recall how Iris, the stock was designated many years back due to excessive speculation, these days investors are talking more about Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) coming in as the largest shareholder in the company and its foray into property market.

Iris is reportedly going to venture into the property segment via joint ventures in overseas markets.

According to recent media reports, the company would embark on its first project in Papua New Guinea and consequently in Angola and China.

Iris has been involved in developing homes for Felda.


(BUSINESS TIMES) MK Land upbeat on 2014 outlook

PROPERTY developer MK Land Holdings Bhd is confident that its project launches next year will easily hit the RM700 million mark, said its group chief executive officer Lau Shu Chuan.

"In fact, if the market is good, the figure may be higher," he said after the company's 34th annual general meeting (AGM), here, yesterday.

The company has plenty of room to work its magic as it currently sits on a landbank measuring 2,010ha spread over Klang Valley and Perak.

Asked if MK Land has plans to venture overseas, Lau said there are still plenty of opportunities in Malaysia.

"Going overseas looks nice on the surface but the risk profile is different. We will look at the overseas market when the time is right." 

MK Land Holdings' good health is based on its current and ongoing projects, like the 454-unit landed semi-detached Rafflesia development, which has an expected gross development value (GDV) of RM1.4 billion.

"Landed semi-detached houses are going to be the main drivers for us. We have set aside more than 28.10ha for Rafflesia. 

"We have sold more than 95 per cent of Parcel A, called Rafflesia@-Park, and have also recently launched Parcel B, which is called Rafflesia@Hill," Lau said.

Based on Rafflesia's encouraging sales, Phase B2, B3 and B4 have been set in motion. 

There is also a condominium project in Damansara Damai called One Damansara, which is sold out. It has an expected GDV of RM350 million.

"In terms of the locations of our landed properties, we are spot on and we can use these to drive our sales, revenue and profit going forward," he said.

On the Developer Interest Bearing Scheme (DIBS) and Real Property Gains Tax, Lau said there will be a bit of impact on the market but the benefits far outweigh the negatives.

Without DIBS, he said, the upfront commitment from buyers will be more and this is good because developers will get very serious buyers.

In addition, the banks will now be very clear on what they can or cannot approve.

Earlier at the AGM, shareholders approved the adoption of audited accounts for the financial year June 30 2013 and approved seven resolutions.

Friday, 29 November 2013

(BUSINESS TIMES) MK Land to launch properties RM700m GDV

SHAH ALAM: Premier developer, MK Land Holdings Bhd, aims to launch properties with a Gross Development Value (GDP) of RM700 million next year.

Group chief executive officer Lau Shu Chuan said the property launches would be concentrated around Damansara Damai in the Klang Valley and Meru, Ipoh.

"Previously, MK Land focused on its Rafflesia project which comprised high-rise and semi-detached landed properties.

It was our main driver as far as revenue is concerned," he told reporters after MK Land's annual general meeting here today.

Rafflesia consist of over 200 units and more than 90 per cent have been booked, he said.

MK Land would also launch another phase comprising 140 units in its Damansara Perdana project with a GDV of RM1.4 billion.

As for its project in Meru, Ipoh, Lau said they were all sold out.

He said MK Land's total landbank, sprawled over 2,023.4 hectares, were located in the Klang Valley and Perak.

On outlook, Lau said Malaysia's property market enjoyed good prospects against the backdrop of a five per cent economic growth forecast for this year and improving global economy.

While saying that MK Land may explore opportunities to expand overseas, he remained optimistic that there was still room for further development in Malaysia.

"We will need to take advantage of the opportunities available in Malaysia before venturing abroad," he added.-- Bernama

(The Star) RM3.5mil spent for launch

KUCHING: Weida (M) Bhd spent about RM3.5mil in the recent launch of its maiden property development, Urbana Residences, in Ara Damansara, Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

The bill was mainly on marketing expenses related to the launch activities, the company said, adding that the project had so far recorded a take-up rate of more than 90%.

Urbana Residences, with a gross development value (GDV) of RM231mil, will house 356 service apartments in a 15-storey block, recreational and social facilities.

Weida said the expenses incurred on Urbana Residences’ launch was among the factors that had eaten into the group’s earnings in the second quarter to Sept 30, 2013.

Group pre-tax profit nosedived to RM1.87mil from RM13.2mil in the same quarter last year while revenue declined to RM117.1mil from RM159.3mil.

Other factors were one-off construction costs and slower progress in certain projects near completion as well as a loss of RM800,000 from the disposals of subsidiaries.

On a six-month basis, group pre-tax profit fell to RM15.85mil from RM20.8mil in the corresponding period last year on lower revenue of RM159.3mil, down from RM197mil.

The manufacturing segment posted a 31.3% jump in profit to RM12.9mil from RM9.8mil previously due to a 13.9% increase in margin even though its revenue had fallen by 6% to RM92.3mil from RM98.4mil.

The works (telecommunication towers, water, wastewater treatment and other infrastructure) segment reported a sharp drop in profit to RM6.9mil from RM10.9mil as revenue declined to RM56.4mil from RM80.8mil.

The services segment’s profit declined to RM336,000 from RM1.2mil in line with lower revenue of RM10.5mil from RM17.7mil.

The property segment, which has just commenced business, incurred a loss of RM3.5mil in the quarter under review.

Weida is seeking shareholder approval on its diversification into property development at an EGM here next Tuesday.

The group is expected to embark on its second property development — a proposed condominium tower with GDV of RM330mil in Mont Kiara next year.

In a circular to shareholders, group managing director Datuk Lee Choon Chin said Weida planned to increase its presence in the property development market through strategic acquisitions and/or joint ventures to secure more land banks or property projects.


(The Star) Closure at Saujana Impian Interchange to facilitate construction work

Alternative for light vehicles: A dedicated U-turn has been constructed along Persiaran Saujana Impian as part of the traffic management plan. Motorists of light vehicles from Kuala Lumpur can take the U-turn to head to Kajang and Taman Mesra.

TWO slip roads at the Saujana Impian Interchange of the Cheras-Kajang Highway (Grand Saga) Highway have been temporarily closed to facilitate construction work for the MRT project.

The closure, which began on Nov 25, will end on Feb 28, 2014. There will be a full closure of the slip road heading from Kuala Lumpur to Kajang and Taman Mesra directions at the interchange.

From early December to mid-February, there will be a partial closure of the slip road heading from Kajang to Kuala Lumpur at the same interchange, with one lane remaining open to traffic.

UEM Construction project director Tee Meng said the closure was to ensure public safety and facilitate construction of piers spanning across a 70m distance at the site.

Mass Rapid Transit Corporation Sdn Bhd (MRT Corp) said in a statement that the closure was implemented after comprehensive traffic studies were carried out and a trial closure period.

According to MRT Corp, a traffic management plan offering alternative routes has been drawn up as follows:

Traffic from Kuala Lumpur, heading towards Kajang, will be diverted to a newly constructed U-turn located about 800m after the closed slip road along Persiaran Saujana Impian. After taking the U-turn, motorists can return to the Saujana Impian Interchange and turn left to Kajang. This U-turn is only for light vehicles;

Traffic from Kuala Lumpur, heading towards Taman Mesra, can either take the Bukit Dukong exit at the Cheras-Kajang (Grand Saga) Highway and use Jalan Cheras or use the new U-turn along Persiaran Saujana Impian and turn right at the Saujana Impian Interchange, to get to Taman Mesra;

Heavy vehicles from Kuala Lumpur, heading towards Taman Mesra and Kajang, should take the Bukit Dukong Exit at the highway and use Jalan Cheras to get to either destinations; and

Alternatively, heavy vehicles from Kuala Lumpur heading towards Kajang via the Cheras-Kajang (Grand Saga) Highway, can exit at the Sungai Balak Interchange, proceed along the Silk Highway, and exit at the Sungai Chua Interchange to head towards Kajang.

Kajang Municipal Council (MPKj) Planning Department director Nizam Sahari confirmed that a plan had been submitted on the road closure and traffic diversion.

“MPKj has agreed to the plan in principle, but we have also requested for additional conditions to be met

“There is a need to install safety signage to create greater awareness on the traffic diversion, as well as speed breakers to slow vehicles down near the site.

“The present plan will be implemented on a trial basis. If there are problems with the traffic scheme or many complaints from the public, we will request for the plan to be revised,” said Nizam.

Kajang assemblyman Lee Chin Cheh had called for a press conference to highlight the road closure and diversion as he was concerned about its impact on the Kajang community.

“Traffic is relatively lighter at the moment due to the school holidays. The full impact will only be felt once schools have re-opened,” said Lee.

UEM Construction is one of the works package contractors for the MRT project, and is responsible for construction works from Taman Mesra to the Kajang Station.


(The Star) New benchmark for luxury living

Central location: An artist’s impression of the Star Residences development.

DEVELOPER Alpine Return Sdn Bhd says its recently launched Star Residences project will set new standards in affordable, star-studded living in the city, with the new integrated development geared to redefine KL’s central business district once completed.

The company says the projects abstract and artistic architecture will be akin to stars that dress up the KL skyline.

Star Development, comprising residential component Star Residences and retail component Star Boulevard, is owned and developed by Alpine Return Sdn Bhd, a 50:50 joint venture company backed by two Malaysian property developers — Symphony Life Bhd (previously known as Bolton Bhd) and United Malayan Land Bhd (UM Land).

Located on four acres of freehold land within a prime, convenient and strategic location along Jalan Yap Kwan Seng, the façade, contemporary architecture, and of 100,000sq ft of lifestyle amenities, is set to personify fine living.

Alan Koh, Symphony Life’s chief operating officer said, “We are very encouraged by the latest 60% take-up rate of Star Residences within just a week of our private preview.

Skyline: An artist’s impression of the view from the roof of Star Residences.

“We believe this is a testimony of our unique Star Development concept and its superior location within the convenient web of connectivity.”

Inspired by W Hotel’s iconic design and contemporary luxury, Star Residences is a fully fitted location designed to invoke a simple, understated and trendy concept.

Star Residences will house three towers of residential condominiums — Residential Tower 1 (RT1), Residential Tower 2 (RT2) and Residential Tower 3 (RT3). The first phase, RT1, will consist of 557 units of premier lifestyle residential units standing 57 storeys high, the residential tower will be ranked as one of the tallest in the vicinity.

Koh said, “At an average of 650 sq ft, the bite-size units are an affordable entry point for investors seeking a desirable high-end development in the heart of KLCC.”

RT1 will offer two floors of facilities, one on the sixth floor and a sky park on the building’s 69th level for residents.

In addition, a 200-meter long planned walkway will connect to Star Boulevard and is expected to be a new tourist landmark in Kuala Lumpur once completed.

A public preview will be held on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th December at No 302, Level 3, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

For more details please go to


(The Star) Lagenda 2, Bukit Jelutong

Lagenda 2 is a small residential enclave within Bukit Jelutong that comprises 138 units of superlink houses. This low-density neighbourhood is set in an open space with plenty of recreation grounds and wide roads.

One notable feature of this project is that houses are arranged on shorter blocks or in smaller enclaves – a plus for safety and a boost for communal interactions. There are also plenty of gazebos scattered throughout the enclave for neighbours to bond.

The neighbourhood is made of a close-knit multi-racial community with an active residents’ association. The Bukit Jelutong Residents’ Association (BJRA) always keeps each other in the loop about the events in the neighbourhood.

Senior real estate negotiator, Zahid Salleh of Transasia Property Consultancy, brought me to this charming middle-lot home which had been extensively renovated. The open and spatial design, combined with generous use of wood, exudes warm and welcoming feeling. The sunroof, complemented by the high ceiling and the french doors, allows for natural light to penetrate and lit the interior.
The owners are particular in ensuring their home is a conducive and comfortable place to live in, raise a family and entertain guests. What was once an indoor courtyard is now a living space with timber flooring and the former guest room is now an entertainment room. The enlarged master bedroom is fitted with a walk-in closet. Meanwhile, the dry kitchen offers a two-seater breakfast bar and a built-in oven.

For safety measures, the home has its own CCTV circuit. There is also air conditioning, multi zone stereo system and centralised water heater for added convenience.

“It is a home in a quiet and friendly neighbourhood. It’s hard to find a neighbourhood like this nowadays,” concludes Salleh.

Bukit Jelutong has a good accessibility with its close proximity to New Klang Valley Expressway (NKVE), ELITE Highway, Guthrie Corridor Expressway (GCE) and Federal Highway. The neighbourhood is merely 20 minutes’ drive away from Subang Skypark Terminal.

Development: Lagenda 2
Where: Jalan Teratak U8/96, Bukit Jelutong, 40150 Shah Alam, Selangor
Property type: Double storey superlink
Tenure: Freehold
Completion date: 2006
Bedrooms: 5
Bathrooms: 6
Built-up area: 3,500 sqft (approximate)
Launch Price: RM644,000
Selling price: RM1,400,000
Selling price per sqft: RM400
Potential rental: RM3,000
Facilities: Playground, jogging track
Security: Security guardhouse fitted with CCTV, visitor management system, card access system
Maintenance: RM100
Developer: Guthrie Property Development Holding Bhd

Business: Several companies in Section 13, Shah Alam
Schools: SK Bukit Jelutong, SMK Bukit Jelutong, Greenview Islamic School
Medical: 24-hour clinic
Banks: Bank Islam
Shopping: Jaya Grocer, Giant Hypermarket, Space U8 Eco Mall
F&B: Cafes, coffeeshops and restaurants within Bukit Jelutong enclave
Entertainment: Golf course and driving range, and cinema & bowling alley at Space U8

Distance: Approximately 28.1 km or 30 minutes’ drive (without traffic) to Parliament House via Federal Highway
Public transport: 6km to Batu 3 KTM Station


(The Edge) City & Country: Cover Story: What’s happening on the secondary market?

How much is a rundown, 1-storey link house on a narrow road and facing noisy motor workshops in Section 17 worth? A cool RM635,000, apparently.

Shaz, who plans to move from Serdang to Petaling Jaya where her family lives, recalls taking her parents to view the tenanted property about a fortnight ago. Her mother, who had grudgingly followed her to look at the house, refused to set foot on the property because she found it “eerie”.

“I had found the house in the newspaper classifieds. It was listed only a few days ago. The owners were going to migrate so they had to sell their house. When I called the agent a week after the viewing, he told me the house was already sold,” she tells City & Country.

This pretty much sums up her house-hunting adventure, which began in mid-October. Scouring the classifieds and Internet property portals, Shaz found only a handful of houses that suited her needs — 2-storey terraced houses in Petaling Jaya around RM630,000 and up to RM650,000 if the property was in livable condition.

“I tried looking at a few houses but all of them were sold within a day. There aren’t many houses in that range anyway,” she says.

Besides the type and price, Shaz is also particular about location, security and the general environment. “If my parents are not okay with the house, I will not follow up, of course.

“I am not revising my requirements, but I know it is hard to find 2-storey houses in PJ that fit my budget. Most of them are out of my range. It has been quite a challenge,” she says.

However, as this article goes to print, Shaz is racing to put down an earnest deposit for a house in the satellite town. Will she succeed this time?

Some market observers say the cooling measures introduced by the government in Budget 2014 will dampen activity. Besides revising the Real Property Gains Tax (see table), the government has also instructed banks to stop funding projects with the developer interest-bearing scheme (DIBS).

Real Estate and Housing Developers Association (REHDA) president Datuk Seri Michael Yam was quoted recently as saying the higher RPGT, while likely to discourage speculation, may have a limited effect because new launches accounted for only RM18 billion of the RM68 billion worth of homes transacted last year.

Speculators targeted new launches because the slew of benefits given by developers, such as higher loan margins (as high as 95% in 2009) and the now-defunct DIBS, allowed them to buy and sell properties easily before having to service the loans.

Meanwhile, some real estate agents say they have closed more deals in the aftermath of Budget 2014, and quickly too, some in just a week or two. More buyers are putting their newly completed properties on the market ahead of the revised RPGT, which has doubled to 30% on gains from sales in the first three years of holding a property, 20% in the fourth year, 15% in the fifth year and no tax thereafter. The revised RPGT takes effect on Jan 1, 2014.

Other agents, however, claim that the secondary market is moving at a slow but steady pace. They do not see the Budget 2014 announcements affecting their sales. Instead, they blame the slow pace on the more stringent bank loan approval processes, which translates into less real demand and potential buyers naturally turning cautious.

Time to shop for deals?

A senior real estate agent who covers Taman Mayang, Damansara Utama, Bandar Utama, SS2 and other mature markets in North PJ/KL says she has closed deals quite speedily because sellers are more receptive to offers from buyers.

However, most of her listings in these established neighbourhoods are from owners who have dwelt there for years. It usually takes about two months for these properties to be sold because of the higher prices — a quick check of her online listings shows that renovated 2-storey link houses in Taman Mayang have asking prices of RM1.1 million while in SS2, 2-storey link houses are going for RM1.3 million to RM1.5 million.

“A lot of people want to sell their newer properties before next year to avoid the higher tax. So, now is a good time to buy because you have more choices in good locations. You are more than welcome to negotiate because all my listings show the asking price,” she says when contacted by this writer posing as a potential buyer.

“My advice to interested buyers is to look at established locations now that the chances of owning homes in these places have improved. You can renovate your house, but you cannot fix your location.”

As the secondary market is expected to be subdued in the first half of next year while getting used to the Budget 2014 announcements, it is no surprise that real estate agents and negotiators are using these few months to land as many deals as possible.

Kim Realty Sdn Bhd CEO Vincent Ng says more sellers have approached his agents to help offload their properties since Budget 2014 was tabled. “I guess they are trying to beat the ‘deadline’, before the new RPGT rates take effect,” he tells City & Country.

But are there also more buyers? “I would say there are more buyers, but they are ‘pressuring’ the sellers. I would not say they are rushing to buy, but they are end-users, so they are shopping around for the best bargains. Some people have to unload their properties and these buyers know it. For example, an office building near Tiara Damansara was sold at RM450 psf, less than the asking price of RM550 psf. The owners still made money because the building had been bought at RM230 psf two years ago, but because they would have held it for only two years, they would be subject to the full 30% if they sold it next year,” Ng explains.

He also notes that the revised RPGT has caused more companies to transfer their properties to individual names so they can avoid paying the 5% imposed even after five years of ownership. “These companies plan to hold their properties for the long term as far as I know, but it still makes sense for them to do this because they don’t have to pay the tax.”

According to some realtors, there has been no surge in listings. Vivien Choy of City Real Properties Sdn Bhd, who focuses on Petaling Jaya, does not believe more properties have been put on the market since Budget 2014 was tabled. In fact, she opines that the secondary market has slowed down from the first half of the year as banks tighten their loan approval rules.

“My bankers and I notice that buyers have to make a bigger commitment as valuations and asking prices do not match. Moreover, the real determining factor is whether they can get loans. Loans now are also approved based on net income as opposed to gross income. So, while there are enquiries, they do not actually end up in sales,” she tells City & Country.

“I think owners of newly completed properties are most likely to want to sell quickly because they buy for short-term investment. But even then, we don’t get a lot of enquiries for these properties.”

Rahim & Co Sdn Bhd managing director Choy Yue Kwong says he has noticed more activity in some areas in the Klang Valley after Budget 2014. “It’s only natural for investors to want to exit now because the new RPGT will trap a lot of those who had bought at new launches with the intention to flip.”

However, he does not see a lot of buyers on the secondary market. “The determining factor is how easily or quickly they can get loans as banks have tightened requirements. So, getting loans now is a problem.”

PPC International Sdn Bhd’s managing director Siders Sittampalam observes that there is a lot of interest shown by vendors and purchasers post Budget 2014. “But I would say that there is a substantial number of sellers nor will prices go down. There are only isolated cases of quick sales,” he tells City & Country

“Those who had actually planned to sell next year are hoping to sell this year instead. But you have just over a month to go, so it’s a very short duration to sell … even the marketing of a property easily takes two months.

“However, there are no signs of the market declining post-Budget 2014. So, there is no evidence to say that there is market depreciation because to say that, you would need more sellers than buyers. Demand is still greater than supply.”

Siders too expects the market to be subdued early next year, although this is unlikely to lead to a big drop in the value of most properties. However, high-end property owners may rush to sell earlier since a 30% tax would cut their gains very steeply.

Houses for sale in Section 17, SS2 and Paramount Garden in Petaling Jaya. These are the older and more sought-after parts of PJ.
More measures possible?
It is worth noting that there was no revision of the stamp duty in Budget 2014. Currently, it stands at 1% for properties priced RM100,000 and below, 2% for properties over RM100,000 to RM500,000, 3% for properties over RM500,000 to RM2 million and 4% for properties over RM2 million. The maximum loan-to-value ratio for the third and subsequent homes was also not reduced from 70%.

The 50% stamp duty exemption for first-time homebuyers still applies to sale and purchase agreements signed between Jan 1 this year and Dec 31, 2014. Thus, the government does not have to wait for Budget 2015 to tinker with these instruments if it wishes to cool the market further.

(The Edge) City & Country: Tropicana launching more homes in Subang

Following the strong take-up of Pandora Serviced Residences, the first phase of Tropicana Metropark’s residential component, Tropicana Corp Bhd (formerly known as Dijaya Corp Bhd) is all set to launch the second phase — Paloma Serviced Residences — later this month.

Tropicana Metropark is an integrated development on 88 acres of freehold land in Subang Jaya, Selangor, with an estimated gross development value of RM6.25 billion. Tropicana had bought the land from Taiwan’s Chunghwa Picture Tubes (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd for RM385.5 million last year.

According to Pamela Loh, Tropicana Corp’s marketing and sales executive director, the overall design of Tropicana Metropark is inspired by developments along the Yarra River in Melbourne, Australia.

This is not surprising as Melbourne has been named the world’s most livable city — for the third year in a row — by the 2013 Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Livability Survey. A total of 140 cities were surveyed under five categories: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

Loh, however, points out that the commercial and retail components of Tropicana Metropark will mirror the developments along the bustling Oxford Street in London, the UK, and Ginza Street in Tokyo, Japan.

Tropicana Metropark will also boast a shopping mall and a medical centre and act as an entertainment and education hub. In the heart of the development will be the 9.2-acre Central Park that will feature a pedestrian promenade, a waterfront, jogging and cycling tracks and a children’s playground.

With a total built-up area of over 11 million sq ft, Tropicana Metropark will come up in nine phases — five residential and four commercial.

The second residential phase

Comprising a total of 571 units in two 29-storey buildings and 16 courtyard villas, the 3.82-acre Paloma Serviced Residences has an estimated GDV of RM465 million and faces Central Park.

The built-up of the units is 600 sq ft (1-bedroom), 900 sq ft (2-bedroom) and 1,300 sq ft (3-bedroom) while that of the courtyard villas is 2,200 to 2,500 sq ft. Prices are expected to start at RM850 psf.

“Based on the overwhelming demand for the larger units in the first phase, we decided to build more 2 to 3-bedroom units in this phase,” Loh tells City & Country at the project’s sales gallery in Subang Jaya. The developer is targeting young families with family and friends living in the surrounding areas, she adds.

In the heart of the development will be the 9.2-acre Central Park
In fact, since the first phase, the developer has registered a total of 4,000 interested parties on its database.

“Subang’s appeal is that it is a self-contained and mature township. There are shopping malls, hospitals, schools and institutes of higher learning all in one area,” Loh points out.

Paloma Serviced Residences’ facilities will be located on two levels. Level 3A will feature an infinity pool, a half-sunken basketball court, lifestyle pavilion, barbecue area, Jacuzzi and yoga and lounge deck. Level 30 will house a sky gym, gourmet kitchen for private functions, reading room and meditation corner.

According to the developer, all the units will have ample storage areas while the 2 and 3-bedroom units will have a yard. All the units come with kitchen cabinets, hood, hob, microwave oven, air-conditioning units, hot water storage, shower screen and quality finishes, such as timber floors in all the bedrooms. The air-conditioning ledge of the units is also positioned away from the façade of the buildings.

The 1-bedroom units get one parking bay each while the others get two each.

The developer is also providing parking space for bicycles to encourage the residents to cycle around the neighbourhood.

By comparison, the first phase consisted of two 25-storey buildings with a total of 627 units. The size of the units ranged from 600 to 1,200 sq ft. This phase, which has an estimated GDV of RM365 million, was officially launched in May at RM780 psf (after rebate) and is more than 90% sold.


Sandwiched between Subang Jaya and Shah Alam, Tropicana Metropark enjoys accessibility via a network of highways, such as the Federal Highway, the North Klang Valley Expressway, the North-South Central Link, the Shah Alam Expressway, the Damansara-Puchong Highway and the New Pantai Expressway.

However, Subang Jaya is famous for its notorious traffic jams, something that Tropicana Corp took into consideration when it was planning Tropicana Metropark. It will construct a RM150 million flyover after the Batu Tiga toll that will link Tropicana Metropark to the Federal Highway. The developer hopes to start work on the flyover by early January and complete it by 2016 together with the first phase. The entire development will be completed in 2025.

Tropicana Corp is in negotiations with Bandar Raya Developments Bhd, which has a piece of land adjacent to Tropicana Metropark, to get the approval and support of the government to move the nearby Batu Tiga KTM station closer to their developments.

Recent work on the extension of the Kelana Jaya light rail transit line, which will no doubt help ease traffic woes in the long term, is now causing major jams along the arterial roads in Subang Jaya.

According to the developer, although LRT to the area was originally targeted to start operating by the end of next year, it has been told that there could be a delay with the possibility of completion in March 2015.

Paloma Serviced Residences’ facilities will be located on two levels
Upcoming plans

Pandora Serviced Residences is currently under construction and is scheduled for completion in 2016, together with the flyover and Central Park.

There are three more phases in the residential component of Tropicana Metropark. After Paloma, the developer will either launch more serviced residences or small offices/home offices, says Loh, adding that the next phase is targeted for launch in the first half of 2014.

Politely declining to give details, she says, “We will see how our customers respond to this launch. The trend is always changing. We want to give our customers the best.”

Loh does not believe the announcements made in Budget 2014 will have a major effect on the company’s sales and marketing strategies for the residential component of Tropicana Metropark.

“I suppose there will be less speculation, but for this project, we are targeting local owner-occupiers. Also, the construction period of this phase is about 45 months.”

Commenting on the development’s commercial component, she says, “As much as we want to launch it, we are not quite sure how the market will react to the Goods and Services Tax of 6% yet.”

However, she believes there is demand for commercial properties in the area. “People now prefer to live near their offices. We already have a ready market of locals who want to work in this area.”

Tropicana Corp has about 2,200 acres of landbank with a potential GDV of RM91 billion located in Johor, the Klang Valley, Penang and Sabah. It plans to soft-launch Tropicana Kajang, which is sited on 199 acres of freehold land that previously housed the Kajang Hill Golf Course, early next month.

(The Edge) City & Country: Klang Valley hospitality market grows in 1H2013

THE Klang Valley hospitality market performed reasonably well despite election jitters, thanks to a healthy growth in international tourist arrivals in the first six months of the year, says a report by Zerin Properties.

The report, entitled “1H2013 Hospitality Highlights — Klang Valley/Kuala Lumpur”, states that tourist arrivals in the first half of the year rose 7.9% to 12.5 million from 11.6 million in the previous corresponding period.

Singaporeans remained the main visitors, at 6.3 million, which translates into a growth of 7.9%, followed by Indonesia with 1.2 million (up 12.1%) and China with 943,756 (up 24.5%).

However, tourist arrivals from Thailand, India and New Zealand dropped 8.9%, 4.6% and 8.1% respectively, along with those from the Middle East.

Tourist receipts in 1H2013 increased 16.7%, generating RM15 billion compared with RM12.8 billion in 1H2012.

According to the report, the growth in Malaysia’s hospitality market was due to the government’s Visit Malaysia 2014 campaign launched earlier this year. The campaign offers various promotional packages and tours as part of the government’s initiative to promote Malaysia as a tourist destination and achieve arrivals of 28 million and receipts of RM75 billion.

Following the opening of two new hotels in the first quarter of the year, the total supply of hotel rooms in the Klang Valley grew to 41,495 as at June. The Aloft Hotel Kuala Lumpur Sentral contributed 484 rooms and the four-star Premiera Hotel in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, 90.

However, the closure of Crowne Plaza Mutiara Kuala Lumpur to make way for a new mixed-use development known as Tradewinds Centre removed 565 rooms from the market.

Out of the current total of 41,495 rooms, about 30,148 or 72.6% are located in Kuala Lumpur. The rest are located outside the city.

As at June, three, four and five-star hotel rooms in the Klang Valley stood at 9,412, 14,527 and 11,836 respectively.

According to the report, the growth in Malaysia’s hospitality market was due to the government’s Visit Malaysia 2014 campaign launched earlier this year.
New supply

Alila Hotels and Resorts Group recently announced its intention to open the Alila Bangsar Kuala Lumpur hotel, comprising 124 rooms, in early 2017 while KLCC (Holdings) Sdn Bhd plans a new hotel and commercial development on 3.9 acres between Suria KLCC and the Asy-Syakirin mosque in Jalan Pinang. The joint venture between KLCC Holdings and Qatari Investment Authority via QD Asia Pacific Ltd will comprise a 76-storey hotel, serviced apartments, residences and associated facilities, including a 64-storey office building, 6-storey retail podium and basement car park. The development is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.

Zerin’s report further states that hotel occupancy rates were slightly affected in 1H2013 by uncertainties over when the 13th general election would be held.

The three and four-star hotels in the Klang Valley saw occupancy of 65.67% and 65% respectively, dipping from 70% and 66.7% in 2H2012 and 67.84% and 67% from the previous corresponding period.

The occupancy rate of the five-star segment improved slightly to 70.5% from 70% in 2H2012 and 68.4% in 1H2012.

The average room rate (ARR) for five-star hotels in the Klang Valley was at RM355 in 1H2013, slightly higher than in 1H2012 (RM344) and 2H2012 (RM346).

The ARR of four-star hotels increased to RM229 from RM224 in 1H2012, but declined slightly from RM237 in 2H2012. For three-star hotels, the ARR was at RM162 in 1H2013, up from RM153 in 1H2012 and RM160 in 2H2012.

As at June, the total supply of three to five-star hotel rooms in Kuala Lumpur stood at 24,158, of which 7,373 or 30.5% were five-star. The total supply of five-star hotel rooms in Kuala Lumpur declined from 7,983 due to the closure of Crown Plaza Mutiara Kuala Lumpur in 1H2013.

The occupancy of five-star hotels in Kuala Lumpur in 1H2013 declined slightly to 77.5% from 78% in 2H2012, but increased from 76% in 1H2012. Both the three and four-star segments recorded a slight decline in occupancy in 1H2013 compared with the first and second halves of 2012.

In 1H2013, the occupancy of three-star hotels in Kuala Lumpur stood at 66% while that of four-star hotels was 67%. By comparison, it was 70% and 71% in 2H2012 and 68% and 69% in 1H2012 respectively.

The ARR of three, four and five-star hotels in Kuala Lumpur during the period under review was RM171, RM232 and RM382 respectively. For five and three-star hotels, this was roughly the same as in 2H2012, but higher than in 1H2012. The ARR of four-star hotels dropped from those in the first and second halves of 2012.

In 2H2012, the ARR of three, four and five-star hotels was RM170, RM251 and RM382 respectively. For four-star hotels, this was down about 7.6% from 2H2012 while for the three and five-star hotels, it was about the same as in 1H2013.

The ARR for three, four and five-star rooms in 1H2012 was RM161, RM235 and RM376 respectively.

The total supply of budget hotel rooms in Kuala Lumpur stood at 5,990 in 1H2013 and there were no new completions during the period under review. The occupancy of such hotels declined slightly to 58% from 62% in 2H2012 and 59% in 1H2012.

Their ARR was around RM100 in 1H2013, similar to that recorded in the first and second halves of 2012.

At present, there are 31 serviced apartment buildings with a total of 5,627 units in Kuala Lumpur following the completion of Lanson Place Bukit Ceylon with 150 units and One-Stop Serviced Residence in Jalan Metro Pudu 2 with 209 units completed in 2011.

A number of serviced apartment projects are in the pipeline in the Klang Valley, including the 34-storey Camellia Serviced Suites with 240 units (end of 2013), Ascott Serviced Residences at KL Sentral with 143 units (1Q2014), D’Pulze Cyberjaya with 232 units (2014) and Somerset Damansara Uptown, Petaling Jaya with 200 units (2016).

In 1H2013, the occupancy of serviced apartments in Kuala Lumpur declined slightly to 70.4% from 73% in 2H2012, but increased from 70% in 1H2012. Their ARR in 1H2013 stood at RM289, up from RM287 in 2H2012 and RM280 in 1H2012. However, Ascott Kuala Lumpur recorded an ARR of RM510 and Garden Residences RM449.

According to Zerin’s report, the Klang Valley hospitality market is likely to see stronger growth in 2H2013 due to the anticipated entry of branded hotels in the near future, for example St Regis in 2014, The Regent in 2015, Four Seasons Place Kuala Lumpur and W Kuala Lumpur in 2016, and continuous efforts to promote Malaysia as prime tourist destination under the Visit Malaysia 2014 campaign.

(The Edge) City & Country: UMLand to keep its focus on Johor

IT has been a little over a year since United Malayan Land Bhd (UMLand) was taken private. According to group CEO Charlie Chia Lui Meng, “We have progressed by leaps and bounds since then. In fact, the Johor market is so hot that we are trying to get more products into the market as soon as possible.”

Construction is underway on the upper floors of the residential and serviced apartment components of the developer’s new office in Suasana Bukit Ceylon in Persiaran Raja Chulan when City & Country drops by for an interview. This part of Kuala Lumpur is surprisingly green and peaceful.

“We expect the building to be completed within the next few months,” Chia says as we are ushered into his large and brightly lit office.

Certainly, things are looking up. But while the Iskandar Malaysia market has heated up, the number of competitors has also increased.

With many developers racing to release their products, Chia believes it is important to reduce the incubation period of UMLand’s projects so that they can be launched in a timely manner. Other challenges he faces include tackling product quality and design innovation while increasing brand presence.

Making hay while the sun shines

UMLand has grown substantially since it was incorporated in 1961 and listed on Bursa Malaysia in 1965 as a mid-range developer offering niche products and targeting owner-occupiers. Recently, it ventured into hotel and mall management.

With its decades of experience, the group is one of the major players in Johor and owns about 2,000 acres of undeveloped land, 90% of which is in the southern state. The estimated gross development value of the land is RM9.36 billion.

Aiming to make hay while the sun shines, UMLand is expected to launch several projects by 2Q2014, all in Johor, its home turf.

These include residential and commercial properties in its existing Seri Alam and Seri Austin townships as well as niche developments in Puteri Harbour and Medini. Also in the pipeline are two industrial projects in Pulai Jaya and Cahaya Baru.

Johor focus

Most of UMLand’s recent and upcoming activities are centred in the southern state. “Johor Baru is considered one of the fastest growing centres of development. This has become very clear, especially in the past 18 months. Now, Iskandar Malaysia is featured on Singapore TV almost every other day,” Chia remarks.

At the moment, Singaporeans make up about 30% to 40% of UMLand’s customers while the rest include the Japanese, Chinese and Indonesians.

The entry of Singapore’s investment vehicle Temasek Holdings and international names like Pinewood Studios, Legoland, Marlborough College, the Traders Hotel and the Hello Kitty theme park has made Johor a new property hot spot.

Public interest and investor confidence have also picked up due to the continuing rise in property prices in Singapore. As a result, many investors in the region are eyeing the Johor property market.

“They want to enjoy a bigger space but at the same time have access to Singapore, which is an international financial and commercial hub with top-notch education and medical facilities,” comments Chia.

At the moment, the focus is on Medini because of the benefits and tax incentives offered to the foreigners, he adds. And with the green light from the authorities to build high-density products in the greenfield region (which translates into higher profits), many developers are now rushing to launch their projects so that they can cash in their investments.

Chia, however, says he has noticed that the locals have been slowly shifting their focus away from Nusajaya in the past six months, resulting in more development activity spreading towards the north of Medini.

Suasana Bukit Ceylon in Persiaran Raja Chulan
Diversifying into hospitality and mall management

UMLand is aggressively strengthening its position in Johor while diversifying its revenue stream with an investment portfolio that will comprise hotels and malls.

With the government actively encouraging multinational corporations to set up shop in the state, Chia says there is a shortage of and urgent need for products for them, especially Grade-A offices.

UMLand made its foray into the hospitality market early last year with Somerset Puteri Harbour, a joint venture with UEM Sunrise Bhd. The three-acre niche development, which fronts Puteri Harbour and has a GDV of RM230 million, comprises twin towers with 168 units that have all been sold.

Upon completion by the end of this year, Somerset Puteri Harbour will have 132 serviced apartments operated by The Ascott Group, a world-renowned serviced apartment operator under the Somerset brand.

Next on the cards is the RM452 million mixed-use development Suasana in Johor Baru, which will be developed by UMLand subsidiary Exquisite Mode Sdn Bhd. According to the developer, the project was launched in October and is 34.47% sold.

Upon its completion, Suasana will house a four-star hotel block, a serviced apartment tower and a retail podium. According to the developer, the project sits on 1.5 acres of freehold commercial land and is a five-minute walk from the upcoming JB Sentral mass rapid transit station that will link Johor Baru to Singapore. It will be appointing an international branded hotel operator to manage the hospitality component of the development.

“The selling point of Suasana is its proximity to the JB Central MRT station. From Suasana, you can walk across an overhead link to KOMTAR (Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak). From there, you can head down to JB central where the station is located,” Chia points out.

The serviced apartment prices range from RM650,000 to RM1.3 million. The targeted buyers are Singaporeans and Malaysians residing in Singapore.

Also in the pipeline is a yet-to-be-named project on a 6.7-acre commercial parcel in Puteri Harbour. This is a 50:50 joint venture again with UEM Sunrise. The tract faces the Puteri Harbour Family Indoor Theme Park and the Traders Hotel, both of which are under construction.

The GDV of the modern mixed-use development is estimated at RM959 million. Upon completion, it will also house a family-oriented indoor theme park of about 50,000 sq ft, serviced apartments, boutique retail units, a mall, small offices/home offices and an internationally branded four-star hotel tower.

The developer hopes to hold a preview of the first phase of Puteri Harbour CS3, a series of serviced apartments, by 1Q2014, says Chia.

The first phase of the 13.26-acre Medini Lakeside located in the Medini business district in Nusajaya will be launched by 2Q2014, he adds. Upon completion, the RM1.4 billion project will consist of SoHos, apartments, a hotel tower, a retail tower and a marina F&B strip.

UMLand is also planning to launch two industrial projects — North South Junction 1 on 629 acres in Pulai Jaya and a yet-to-be-named development on 333 acres in Cahaya Baru.

NSJ 1 will feature a transport hub and also a residential component. It is estimated to yield RM718 million and will have a 1km stretch fronting the Second Link. It is located 5km from the Johor Technology Park and 2km from Johor Premium Outlets. The developer hopes to attract commercial and clean industry investors to this project.

The mixed-use development in Cahaya Baru is close to the Tanjung Langsat Industrial Park. The developer is planning industrial, commercial and logistics components, a transport hub and a residential component here. The estimated GDV is RM687 million.

In the next five years, UMLand is set to continue to solidify its position and build on familiar ground. It plans to increase its landbank in various parts of Johor, particularly in the growth region of Iskandar Malaysia. “We welcome joint ventures and investment proposals for our upcoming developments,” says Chia.

On Budget 2014

Commenting on Budget 2014, which announced an increase in the Real Property Gains Tax (RPGT) and the elimination of the developer interest-bearing scheme (DIBS), Chia says the new measures will definitely impact demand and projects in Iskandar Malaysia. “Project launches will be delayed or stall.”

But he adds that the end-user or long-term investor may find developer prices going down as those providing DIBS usually factor some of their costs into the scheme. Chia opines that getting rid of DIBS is a good move because too much of speculative buying can create a property bubble.

“Without DIBS, sales volume will drop in the short term, but in the long term, this will lead to a more stable market.”

Will UMLand’s projects in Medini be affected by the new measures?

“I believe any new measure will impact all property developers — some more than others — as buyers will take a wait-and-see stance,” Chia says, adding that Medini will benefit because it is exempted from the RM1 million ceiling for foreign purchasers.

Projects located in the area have other advantages as well: the infrastructure is already in place; exemption from building low-cost houses; and no bumiputera or foreign quotas.

Developers in Medini will be more cost-competitive than others, Chia says, adding that the approved developers also pay no development profits if their projects are completed and sold by 2020. So, projects will continue to be launched and built in the area, he opines.

Some of the projects already launched in Iskandar Malaysia but outside Medini, which were experiencing good off-the-plan sales recently, will be affected by the ceiling increase from RM500,000 to RM1 million for foreign purchasers.

If the sale and purchase agreements for units sold to foreign purchasers below RM1 million have not been approved by the state yet, the deposits will have to be returned, Chia explains.

According to the developer, depending on the number of purchasers affected, the number of units to be built will be reduced. With fewer units being built, the construction industry may enjoy a better supply of labour and materials. For the long-term investor and end-user, this would be a good opportunity to ride Iskandar Malaysia’s growth.

(The Edge) Penang Worldcity records 85% take-up rate for its first four towers

PETALING JAYA: Four out of six towers in the first phase of Tropicana Corp Bhd’s joint venture project with Ivory Properties Group Bhd, Penang Worldcity in Penang have sold 85% since the preview in Febuary.

Named Tropicana Bay Residences, the first phase of the waterfront integrated development has a gross development value (GDV) in excess of RM835 million. The project will be developed by Tropicana Ivory Sdn Bhd, a JV company between the property groups.

During the official ground breaking ceremony on Wednesday at Penang WorldCity sales gallery at Bayan Mutiara, Penang, Tan Sri Danny Tan Chee Sing, founder and group executive vice-chairman of Tropicana said the company is encouraged by the response.

Datuk Low Eng Hock, CEO of Ivory, said the ground breaking ceremony marks the creation of an amazing history in Penang.

“There is a lot of work [construction] to do and we are still on a mission to set a new benchmark in urban living as well as provide comfortable luxury green homes for our first batch of privileged buyers,” he said adding that the target market is young local and expatriate urban professionals, second home buyers as well holiday home seekers.

Penang WorldCity is a 102.6 acre (42ha) freehold integrated waterfront development worth a GDV of RM10 billion. Penang WorldCity will be developed over an eight to 10 year period. Construction of the first phase is expected to begin in 2013 and is slated for completion in 2017.

The development comprises residential towers, office blocks, recreational and retail outlets, a wellness centre, an international hotel as well as an international school. The waterfront city is located at the gateway of Penang Island, right off the iconic Penang Bridge, in the vicinity of the eastern part of the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway (formerly known as Bayan Lepas Expressway) and Sungai Nibong.

The units in Tropicana Bay Residences are between 455 sq ft to 1,950 sq ft priced at RM850 per sq ft. Facilities include an overhanging pool, children’s playground, tennis, squash and badminton courts, multipurpose halls, a gym as well as a foot reflexology and jogging path.

Jagdeep Singh Deo, state executive counselor for Town and Country Planning and Housing, Tan and Low performed the gound breaking. Also present was Datuk Yau Kok Seng, group CEO of Tropicana, Datuk Dickson Tan, group managing director of Tropicana and Datuk Andy Khoo, managing director of Tropicana Ivory Sdn Bhd.

Ivory was established in 1999 and has a strong presence in north Malaysia. Its project portfolio includes medium- to high-end apartments, luxury condominiums, semi-detached houses and bungalows, boutique gated communities, retail and commercial lots.

Tropicana has been listed on the Main market of Bursa Malaysia since 1992 and is involved in a variety of businesses including property and resort development, property investment, manufacturing, land trading and investment holding.

A week ago, the group announced its collaboration with Marriott International Inc to develop the 200-room Courtyard by Marriott (with a GDV of about RM150 million) in Tropicana 218 Macalister.

(The Edge) Pearl@Enstek sees 40% take-up

SEPANG: TH Properties Sdn Bhd’s latest two-storey semi-detached and bungalow residence, Pearl@Enstek has achieved 40% take-up since its launch on Nov 23.

“Pearl@Enstek, a gated and guarded development offers an exclusive freehold and close-knit neighbourhood as it only has 35 units. Families can enjoy living with nature and build enduring and memorable friendships with neighbours, where everybody knows each other, yet is discreet in terms of privacy,” said Mohd Adlee Yusof, senior manager (marketing and sales) of TH Properties in a press statement recently.

Pearl@Enstek is part of a larger township in Sepang called Bandar Enstek. Bandar Enstek, billed as the “Prime Suburb of KLIA”, is TH Properties’ flagship project covering 5,119 acres (2,072ha) with a gross development value of RM9.2 billion. Construction for is about 49% done and the township is expected to be completed by 2025.

The 10 acre Pearl@Enstek is a RM37.50 million freehold development. The 28 semi-detached homes, priced from RM851,100 to RM1,671,300, have sold 25%.

The seven units of bungalows, priced from RM1,227,900 to RM1,342,400, were fully sold last weekend.

A crowd of 300 people turned up at the launch event contributing to total sales of RM14.66 million. Buyers were from Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.

The semi-detached homes have plot sizes upwards of 4,000 sq ft and built-ups of 3,347 sq ft onwards. The bungalows have plot sizes from 6,000 sq ft and built-ups starting from 4,382 sq ft.

The development is projected for early completion in April 2014.

TH Properties targets young, growing families and those who seek bigger living spaces and choices of land area.

“Our homes offer luxurious living and attractive long-term investment for those contemplating a suburban lifestyle, far enough from the hustle and bustle of the city and yet close enough to the airport, school, educational health institutions, leisure and other conveniences,” said Mohd Adlee. 

Left: A show unit at Pearl@Enstek.

Right: TH Properties is targeting young, growing families and those seeking bigger living spaces.


(The Edge) Mixed development malls better for economy

KUALA LUMPUR: Mixed development malls such as Sunway Pyramid may be better for the economy than single or stand-alone malls, according to the Malaysia Shopping Malls Association (PPK Malaysia).

“With increasing land costs, we want to have more activities. For a 20 acre (8.1ha) parcel, you could have a shopping mall in the podium, and hotel, office or residential tower,” said HC Chan, president of the Malaysia Shopping Malls Association (PPK Malaysia).

Chan was speaking at the Council of Asian Shopping Centres (CASC) conference themed The Future of Asian Malls, What’s New? held at Sunway Resort Hotel and Spa from Nov 27 to 29.

Chan said more activities would complement one another and make the business more successful.

“Instead of just a shopping experience, there could be many more complimentary activities for the community,” he said.

Mixed development malls, he said, are already a clear trend with hotels and universities connected to them.

“It may not be the top trend but all the hotels and universities and theme parks are adjacent to the mall and it’s still considered an integrated retail development. This trend is picking up” said Chan.

Besides educating and discussing best practices in the retail sector, the conference is also preparing its 340-strong members from Japan, Hong Kong, Australia and other Southeast Asian mall operators to promote shopping in Malaysia.

Chan said the conference was timely to strengthen Malaysia’s position as a top shopping destination after it was ranked second and fourth for top shopping destinations in the world by The Economist and CNN respectively and allow the industry to leverage what is best for Visit Malaysia Year 2014.

The retail business in Malaysia generated sales of RM18.5 billion in 2012 that constituted 30.7% of all tourist spending. Tourism Malaysia’s sales campaign attracted 25 million tourists last year.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

(The Star) Berjaya wins top awards in budget hotel assessment

Excellent work: (From left) Leong, Lau and Ling showing the certificates earned from the biennial rating exercise.

SIBU: Berjaya Group has once again snared the lion’s share of top prizes at Sibu Municipal Council’s (SMC) Budget Hotel Assessment.

The group with a chain of 11 budget hotels in the state, won the first, third and fifth spots in this biennial rating exercise.

Nine of its hotels are in this town and one each in Sarikei and Kuching.

The first prize went to Hotel Bahagia with a 90.83% mark, third was Sanyong Inn (83.39%) and fifth was Mega Inn (81.69%).

The second and third spots went to Leldo Inn (88.43%) and River Park Hotel (82.78%). Hotel Bahagia was also placed first in 2011.

The five hotels, which are rated ‘A’, received a certificate each from SMC chairman Datuk Tiong Thai King yesterday.

Berjaya Group managing director Kemp Lau said despite the economic downturn, which was seriously affecting the hotel business here, the company was not using it as an excuse not to improve the general conditions of their hotels.

“Our group is continuing to work hard to maintain the quality of our hotels despite the economic downturn and the tough competition that we are facing.”

Lau together with his mother Ling Teck Soon and a staff, Alice Leong, received the prizes from Tiong together with representatives of the other two winners.

“We are very excited to receive the prizes. We would like to thank SMC for selecting us as the winner, including our group chairman Lau Nai Meng, for his excellent leadership in helping us to win the awards,” Lau added.

Lau has a degree in hotel management from Switzerland. He is also one of the panel judges of Tourism Malaysia Star and Orchid Rating Team.

SMC deputy chairman Daniel Ngieng said the assessment exercise, which started in 2007, was to increase the quality, cleanliness and hygiene of budget hotels in its jurisdiction.

“Since the exercise was initiated in 2007, there has been noticeable improvements in the conditions of budget hotels here although there are some which need to put in extra effort to upgrade their conditions.”

A total of 45 budget hotels were involved in the assessment exercise this time, which was divided into two rounds from June 17 to 21, and from Sept 23 to 27.

Of the number, six of them were graded ‘A’ with total marks of between 80 and 100, 15 with ‘B’ (60 -79.99) and 21 with ‘C’ (40 -59.99). They were graded based on building safety and safety facilities, cleanliness and hygiene standard, facilities and services, bedroom requirements, staff and others.