Saturday, 31 May 2014

(The Star) RM5bil West Coast route set to bring in RM100bil to surrounding areas in next 10 years

Things are looking up for Teluk Intan folk.

The good news is that the RM5bil West Coast Expressway (WCE) that is due for completion in 2018 is set to bring in RM100bil in wealth creation in the next 10 years.

This comes in the form of big industrial investments and infrastructure and property development; and in turn will generate many downstream economic activities.

Teluk Intan, Sitiawan and Lumut are among areas which are set to benefit from the expressway, said Perak Investment Management Council (PIMC) deputy chairman Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha.

The 233km-long expressway way that connects Changkat Jering in Perak to Banting in Selangor will have interchanges in areas like Sitiawan and Teluk Intan.

For instance, he said the interchange in Lekir, Sitiawan and Sitiawan Utara and that in Teluk Intan were just about 10 minutes drive from their town centre.

Also a former Transport Minister, Kong said good connectivity will attract investors to the areas, and increased business and job opportunities for the people.

“The estimated total wealth creation from the West Coast Expressway is RM100bil for the next 10 years,” he told The Star.

“The West Coast Expressway, which linked industrial areas as well as areas with high growth potential and ports is a big catalyst for development,” he said.

Elaborating on the WCE, Kong said the ports involved were Lumut, nearby Sitiawan and Klang near Banting in Selangor.

“Heavy vehicles from the north and heading south can bypass a very long stretch, from the winding stretch after Changkat Jering and up to Ipoh, and also the stretch from Ipoh to Tapah, Bidor or Sungkai when they are heading to Lumut or Port Klang.

“At present, the vehicles from north have to exit from one of the three interchanges (Tapah, Bidor or Sungkai) and travel along the old roads to Teluk Intan, Sitiawan and Lumut.

“Travelling along old roads is very time consuming.

“For those from the north and heading to Port Klang, they have to use the North South Highway and join other expressways currently.

“With WCE, they just enter at Changkat Jering interchange and exit the Banting interchange,” Kong said.

Citing examples, he said it takes about 45 minutes to travel from the Bidor interchange to Teluk Intan along the 40 km long stretch.

And the time is easily doubled to travel from the Bidor interchange to Sitiawan or Lumut.

Likewise, vehicles from Sitiawan, Lumut and Teluk Intan would no longer need to inch their way to the Bidor or Tapah or Sungkai exit to head south to Port Klang, he said.

Saving time is cost savings in business, and this is certainly attractive to investors.

Apart from that, Kong said the other forms of savings that came from using WCE include less fuel consumption and the toll charges was also estimated to be about RM30 cheaper compared to the present route.

Kong said other road users would also benefit from the WCE.

“The number of heavy vehicles between the Changkat Jering and Sungkai stretch for instance, is expected to reduce a lot and thus ease congestion.

“There will also be a huge reduction in heavy vehicles along old roads, like along the stretch from Tapah, Bidor and Sungkai linking to Teluk Intan or Sitiawan,” Kong said, visualising the many benefits from the WCE.


(The Star) State blasted for delay in project

Still unfinished: The ongoing construction of the Penang Hill car park.
Still unfinished: The ongoing construction of the Penang Hill car park.

An assemblyman lashed out at the state government for failing to meet the deadline for the completion of the car park at the foot of Penang Hill.

Pulau Betong assemblyman Muhamad Farid Saad lambasted Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng for the failure of the project to meet the second completion date which was supposed to be this month.

The date was subsequently pushed to Aug 31.

He also questioned the capacity of Penang Development Corporation deputy general manager (I) Iskandar Basha Abdul Kadir who has since resigned as PDC Consultancy Sdn Bhd (PDCC) chairman and PDCC general manager.

PDCC is the company responsible for the construction of the Bukit Bendera or Penang Hill car park.

“On what capacity is Iskandar Basha acting on now? Why did the new chairman and general manager not conduct a press conference?

“Maybe the project is too small for them but it is a huge deal to Penangites,” Muhamad Farid said.

Muhamad Farid also urged Lim to explain to Penangites why the completion date had been pushed back.

On Wednesday, Iskandar Basha told a press conference that the Penang Hill car park, which was at 65% completion rate, was now scheduled for completion on Aug 31.

He said this was due to the removal of vast quantities of rocks and boulders during piling works which had taken a lot of time.

The same excuse was used in October last year when announcing the second completion date. The project was then 25% completed.


(The Star) Big appeal of small markets

The Curve’s Street Market weekend bazaar stretches 300ft along the mall’s restaurant and café strip. - Picture courtesy of The Curve.
The Curve’s Street Market weekend bazaar stretches 300ft along the mall’s restaurant and café strip. - Picture courtesy of The Curve.

There was a time when weekend flea markets within a commercial complex were unheard of in the Malaysian shopping scene.

The concept of n informal gathering of people coming together to buy, sell, and trade used or old goods under one roof was completely foreign.

It all changed in 1998 when Amcorp Mall set out to create an indoor antiques market inspired by one of the most iconic antiques market in the world — the Portobello Road market in the United Kingdom.

Amcorp’s infant flea market started slowly, with just a handful of pioneering antique enthusiasts displaying their prized possessions in the mall’s lower ground level.

The Amcorp Mall flea market has been around for years. A rapport does exist between certain vendors as well as with their customers.
The Amcorp Mall flea market has been around for years. A rapport exists between vendors and their customers.

Sixteen years later, the number of traders has soared to about 300, and the space it takes up has grown from one floor of the mall to four.

The idea of flea markets has also visibly grown on Malaysians.

For other businesses

All businesses have their starting point.

For Adeline Ho, founder of bazaar organiser, I Love Bazaar, it started five years ago when she used to run a stall selling accessories in a flea market.

She then ventured into event organising and now runs the weekend bazaars at Subang Parade and eCurve malls in Petaling Jaya, providing for other small businesses and traders looking to supplement their income.

Ho leases space to tenants an fixed rental rates and profit sharing terms agreed with the malls.

Vethanayagam (left) and Amcorp Mall advertising and promotion manager Azman Abdullah explains the ins and outs of the flea market over the past 16 years.
Vethanayagam (left) and Amcorp Mall advertising and promotions manager Azman Abdullah explain the ins and outs of the mall’s flea market over the past 16 years.

“Bazaars usually utilise smaller areas of less prominence like walkways. With that, rent is lower and we can provide more affordable space to small businesses,” said Ho.

“With the really low barriers to entry, people will be more encouraged to try it out.”

The bazaars reel in an average of about 55 vendors at Subang Parade and 24 vendors at eCurve at any one time.

“We don’t impose a contract for stalls, so there’s more flexibility and new tenants have the chance to join.

“That keeps bazaars interesting for shoppers too as they can expect new and different things on every visit,” added Ho.

Supporting homegrown trade is one of the key focuses for the flea market at Markets @ Jaya One.

“Most of our tenants curate their own things and create their own brands, what we do is support them by creating a platform to market them,” said Jasmin Thum, general manager of Freeform Sdn Bhd, the company organising Markets @ Jaya One.

“Markets @ Jaya One happens only four times a year, with last April’s Easter event drawing some 120 vendors.

“Every event makes a difference for our tenants. People may come to our market for the first time, but they could be searching for a specific stall’s brands the next time,” she remarked, stating that it is the reason many vendors return to Markets.

The owner of Joe's Mac, Joe Rozario, is a true success story born from the flea market scene.
The owner of Joe’s Mac, Joe Rozario, is a true success story born from the flea market scene.

The location might not be a crucial requisite to hold a flea market, but it helps when organisers provide one.

The Curve’s weekend Street Market bazaar stretches 300 ft along the mall’s restaurant and café strip, providing market vendors with guaranteed attention.

“When The Curve devised the layout for its food and beverage area, the plan automatically suited a street market,” explained The Curve’s centre manager Jazmi Kamarudin.

He said that the crowds drawn by the popularity of Street Market has also proven to benefit all tenants within the mall.

“Instead of competition, the market vendors and mall tenants get to benefit from increased foot traffic. This benefits every business,” said Jazmi.

Success story

Flea markets may not give rise to multi-million dollar businesses, but they have success stories of their own.

One such story is Joe Rozario, owner of Joe’s MAC vinyl record store. Rozario first started his business with one table at the Amcorp Mall flea market in 2003.

Showing up for the first time with 500 records in hand, he successfully sold most of them. On his second trip to the flea market, his investment of RM5,000 worth of records yielded a two-fold profit.

"I Love Bazaar" at eCurve fills vacant areas with small business owners that are passionate about what they do.
‘I Love Bazaar’ at eCurve fills vacant areas with small business owners that are passionate about what they do.

Rozario attributes his success to the flea market. From the makeshift tables of the flea market, Rozario has moved into a 1,000 sq ft shop in Amcorp Mall and will soon be occupying a 4,000 sq ft retail space. Yet he will still be renting tables at the flea market.

“I’m addicted to the flea market. On a good day, I can sell up to RM5,000 worth of records, which is more than the shop’s sales.

“And with the new, expanded retail space, every day is flea market day at Joe’s Mac,” he quipped.

Rozario says the business is easier because he adores the environment.

“I like how people get together here. They enjoy the market, share interests, and learn about new things. I still get excited about the flea market every time, with all the people and the oddities and collectibles that I can find,” said Rozario.

He added it is important that the mall’s management understands the needs of the vendors and enables them to have the freedom of being creative with what they sell.


Running a flea market is not without its share of challenges.

By charging a minimal fees to participate, organisers provide vendors with basic set up that usually consists of tables, chairs and power source. After taking into consideration costs, flea markets organisers generally don’t make much money.

“After you calculate the rent, manpower and necessary charges, the fees collected basically covers only what we do,” Thum says, adding that having sponsors helps to ease the burden of costs and provides a better experience for market goers through little incentives such as freebies and discount vouchers.

According to Amcorp Mall’s assistant general manager Christopher Vethanayagam, the mall’s flea market is not run with profit as its primary objective.

“The revenue generated is used to defray the operating costs of the complex,” said Vethanayagam.

As the flea market business mainly revolves around tenants, managing the tenant list is a challenge in itself.

“We have to deal with tenant arrangements, space allocation, and making sure of the right vendors and product mix. Some things can go awry even with proper planning,” said Thum.

Ho says that since the bazaars she organises rent space from malls, many rules and regulations apply to bazaar tenants as well.

“Malls strict regulations, such as operating from 10am to 10pm. Some bazaar tenants find it difficult to fulfill so we just seek to coordinate the best we can,” said explained.

The challenge extends to the preferences of customers as well.

“The whole concept of a flea market where items are traded off tabletops many not be everyone’s cup of tea,” stated Vethanayagam.

Thum also said that roughly half of the people who flock to Markets @ Jaya One are returning customers.

“Certain flea markets have their followers and that’s great, but it is just as important to attract new visitors,” she said.

Keeping flea markets relevant

Bazaars today incorporate innovative elements to draw attention and keep the hype alive for the location.

Markets @ Jaya One plays around with themes such as Halloween, Easter and even markets that are held at night.

With sponsors joining in, it has even managed to integrate car boot sales into the market.

“We also allow tenants themselves to be innovative for their business; we’ve seen vendors bringing in DJs for live music,” stated Thum.

Having a good tenant mix is also the key to maintaining the relevance and sustainability of flea markets.

“Our tenants change sometimes, but the key is to keep a good mix of them.

“From there we meet different tenants bringing in interesting products, and some are unlike any seen elsewhere,” said Ho.

“I Love Bazaar” is roughly 30% apparel and 70% for other products, such as handmade items, accessories, food and other “surprise” products.

On the other hand, consistency can sometimes be a vital tostaying relevant.

“It took many years for Amcorp Mall’s flea market to become what it is today. The Malaysian style and special touches are what keep both vendors and shoppers coming back. Although we manage the platform for our tenants, we don’t change the distinct flavour that people come searching for,” explained Vethanayagam.

The flea market keeps true to its focus on antiques and collectibles. Almost 70% of the stalls in the weekend market sell either antiques or collectibles.

However, Amcorp Mall opens up opportunities for other products as well, creating different niches.

Toy vendor Azam Husni Mustafa, for instance. appears in the full costumes of popular comic or action characters with his friends from The Ultimate Cosplayers group two Sundays every month, entertaining shoppers at the flea market.

“He can run a business and still live out his passion and creative talents, and this is precisely the kind of mix that makes the flea market a favourite for many people,” said Vethanayagam.


(The Star) For the upwardly mobile

Green living : Tan showing a model o f Crown Residence at HR Group ’s office in Plaza See Hoy Chan. The project is expected to be completed in 2017
Green living : Tan showing a model o f Crown Residence at HR Group ’s office in Plaza See Hoy Chan. The project is expected to be completed in 2017

Having completed more than 10 residential projects in the Klang Valley, HR Group of Companies, is confident that its soon to be developed Crown Residence in Jalan Kasipillay, Kuala Lumpur has everything it takes to be a luxury serviced apartment.

HR Group’s managing director Tan You Hock said he is confident the 224 service residences will definitely be popular among those who want to be closer to the city and those from the surrounding areas wanting to upgrade their homes.

“The project is now in the tendering stage and construction is expected to begin in two to three months time,” said Tan during an interview in his office in Plaza See Hoy Chan, Kuala Lumpur recently.

Slated for completion in November 2017, Tan said the units’ built-up areas range from 858 sq ft to 935 sq ft. The units feature ceiling heights of 3.3m.

“With three bedrooms and two bathrooms, the serviced residences will have quality finishings such as marble flooring for the living and dining areas, solid timber flooring for rooms, solid-top kitchen cabinets with hob and hood, and Toto brand sanitary ware, among others,” he said, adding that the Crown Residence is designed to delight in with stunning views of the city skyline and an opulent lobbby that matches high-end hotels in the city.

Located on 0.4ha of land owned by the group, Tan said the gross development value of the one-block freehold development is RM170mil and rental yield is expected to be between 5% to 6%.

“Apart from the state-of-the-art four-tier security system and lift card-access system, each unit will be given two parking bays. Other facilities include a wading pool, swimming pool, sauna, jacuzzi, gymnasium, multipurpose rooms, gardens on designated floors, a roof garden and two squash courts,” Tan said.

The gardens are part of the group’s strategy to promote green living and enhance the property’s value.

Tan believes that the luxury serviced apartment will be popular with young professionals and investors.

The units are priced from RM734,000 to RM818,000 and the sales and purchase agreement and legal fees will be borne by the developer.

HR Group has a track record of more than 10 years in high-rise residential developments in the Klang Valley and to date has won 10 international property awards, with the most recent being the Asia Pacific Property Awards for Best Apartment in Malaysia for its Centrina @ Central Residence in Sungai Besi, Kuala Lumpur.

For details on the group’s developments, call 03-2053 1988 or visit its website at


(NST) Discover 'Beach in the City'

PETALING JAYA: Come discover Citta Mall's very own mini theme park, Beach in the City, today and tomorrow.

Ever been inside a water walker? Imagine zorbing without the danger of ever flying off a cliff. As you rumble and tumble it out in your water walker, perhaps the kids would prefer a tamer experience, such as learning how to manoeuvre miniature paddle boats.

Then, there's the big inflatable slides to explore the thrill of sliding down a larger-than-life slide that's perfectly child-friendly. Also explore the sensations of parachuting with the impressive-looking Airborne Adventure unit, where you can feel the simulation of a parachute opening while being lifted to the top of this giant inflatable unit, and experience the thrill of the sudden drop at the end of it.

This is by far the safest skydiving adventure you will ever have if you are free-falling from a height of 3,960m.

Admittance is free for patrons who have spent a minimum of RM100 at Citta Mall.

(NST) No Komtar stop for express buses

NO COMPROMISE: SPAD to cancel all permits allowing express buses to use Komtar as a pick-up and drop-off point tomorrow

GEORGE TOWN: EXPRESS buses picking up and dropping off passengers at Komtar here will no longer be allowed to do so as such permits will be revoked tomorrow.

Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) councillor Muhammad Sabri Md Osman said the council had asked the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) to cancel all permits which allow express buses to use Komtar as a pick-up and drop-off destination.

He said this move was in line with the council's directive under Section 72(1) of the Road Transport Act 1987 where all express buses will be allowed to pick up and drop off passengers only at the Sungai Nibong Bus Terminal.

"The directive was issued in 2005, but of late, we have noticed a rise in the number of express buses picking up and dropping off passengers at Komtar.

"The council is concerned about this as it will not only worsen the traffic congestion but also pose a risk to the passengers alighting and boarding buses on the busy road.

"To put a stop to it, we have asked SPAD to cancel all permits to Komtar and also fine violators who continue using Komtar as their pick-up point," he said after the council meeting at the Town Hall building here recently.

Sabri said starting today, SPAD would take action against any express bus operator using the Komtar area as its pick-up and drop-off point.

"SPAD will take the offenders to court and they will be charged accordingly," he said.

Sabri also advised the public to buy bus tickets where the boarding point is at Sungai Nibong Express Bus Terminal and not at Komtar.

Checks by Streets showed that a few buses, mostly outstation ones, were parked at Komtar waiting for their passengers to board or alight.

Express bus operators were also seen selling bus tickets with pick-ups at Komtar.

One bus operator in her 30s, who declined to be identified, said many foreigners prefer Komtar as a pick-up and drop-off point as it is more convenient compared to the Sungai Nibong Bus Terminal which is far away from the town centre.

Friday, 30 May 2014

(The Star) New hang out hub for youngsters planned

KULAIJAYA: Youths here can anticipate a new hangout spot, where a wide range of recreational activities would be conducted to better youngsters’ involvement in the society.

Kulaijaya Municipal Council (MPKu) newly appointed president Abdul Rahman Salleh said that the council was in the midst of identifing a suitable location for the park and so far areas such as Bukit Liki and Jalan Cegah had been suggested.

“Youths can expect activities such as the screening of live-telecast of football matches, automobile exhibition or any other educational and pro-active shows to be organised from time-to-time.

“The construction of the new park is in line with the government’s call for all local authorities to build such parks,” he said after the MPKu full council meeting here recently.

In a separate matter, Abdul Rahman said that the council would be conducting stringent checks on traders renting stalls under MPKu.

“We notice that many traders were not making use of the space that has been rented out to them and some even sublet the stalls to other traders.

“There are about 213 stalls under the council, scattered around areas such as Kulai Besar, Batu 19, and Taman Mas here,” he added.

Abdul Rahman also said that only 10% of the stalls set up by the council were supposedly vacant, but checks revealed that more were unoccupied.

“We advised the traders involved to ensure business is running and update rental payments before further actions are taken,” he said adding that those who wish to rent a stall could also come forward and apply through the council.

On his plans for Kulaijaya, Abdul Rahman said that he would continue the development plans and programmes that had been carried out by the former president.

“From my personal observation, the infrastructure and facilities in Kulai is almost complete, and now we need to focus on maintenance and upgrading works including upgrading of services here,” he added.


(The Star) Two projects for Tanjung Tokong

Luxury stands tall: Choo (inset) says the Marinox Sky Villas is set for completion in 2016.

Penang-based developer to build more than 400 sky homes along the coast

Property developer Masmeyer Holdings with gross development value (GDV) projects worth almost RM1bil is developing two residential projects in Tanjung Tokong, Penang.

One of the Penang-based firm’s two multimillion ringgit condominium projects along the coast is the Marinox Sky Villas that was recently launched.

The Marinox Sky Villas, a joint venture with UDA Holdings Bhd, consists of two blocks of seaview luxury condominium with each unit ranging from 1,260sq ft to 2,960sq ft in builtup.

The 301 units costing RM785 per sq ft are scheduled for completion in 2016.

An adjacent plot of land next to Marinox high-rise has been divided into 17 parcels with sizes ranging from 8,000sq ft to 12,000sq ft to house Milrow Villas.

Priced at RM400 per sq ft, 10 lots have been sold and buyers can build their very own dream villa.
Another project planned along Tanjung Tokong is a joint venture with Kwangtung and Tengchow Association to build 142 condominium units with an anticipated GDV of RM100mil.

The Tanjung Tokong coast has attracted a number of developers, with one major player — E&O — developing the multi-billion ringgit Seri Tanjung Pinang seafront project.

The project’s second phase recently received conditional approval from the Department of Environment.

“It is the right time to move in with the joint venture projects which we tied up some time ago as there is now rapid development along the coast of Tanjung Tokong,” said Masmeyer managing director B.K. Choo.

Choo insisted he was not in competition with the major players on the island.

“We regard ourselves as more of the B class developer,” Choo said when comparing his company with the five big boys of Penang — SP Setia, Mah Sing Bhd, IJM Land, Tropicana and E&O.

Masmeyer has been busy in other states before returning to build on its home ground.

It has two projects in Kelantan, a landed property with a GDV of RM500mil and the other, a joint venture with Koperasi Polis Kelantan with a GDV of RM100mil.

In Kedah, its Taman Pinang Merah project in Bukit Pinang with 192 landed units was completed in 2010.

The same year saw the completion of its Taman Tuanku Haminah project with 325 residential and commercial units, a joint venture with Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Kedah in Sungai Petani.

Another project in Kedah, T.H. Pelangi, a joint venture with Rakyat Hartanah Sdn Bhd, consists of 110 commercial units and was completed last year. All three projects in Kedah have a GDV of RM126mil.

In Batu Gajah, Masmeyer ventured with Tri Alliance Sdn Bhd to develop Maya Pengkalan which was recently launched. It consists of 400 units of bungalow and semi-detached houses with a GDV of RM90mil.

Its two condominium projects in Kuala Lumpur comprise 300 units in Sentul and 500 units in Jalan Sg Besi.

On the joint venture projects, Choo said: “We have no land bank. Our policy has always been to develop projects on a joint venture basis, thus freeing our cash from being tied up in land but this strategy could change in the future.”

The company, through its wholly owned subsidiary Masmeyer Engineering Sdn Bhd, has also been involved in construction and related consultancy works since 2002.

Winner of the Business of the Year Award 2007 and Golden Bull Award 2008 for being one of the most outstanding SMEs, Masmeyer has been lying low over the last two years.

“It was more of a consolidation exercise as we wanted to recoup and ‘ ramp up’ again. The upcoming projects, particularly in Penang, will contribute to a turnover of RM100mil in the current year,” he said.

(The Edge) Aspen Group to focus on affordable housing

GEORGE TOWN: Affordable housing, widely sought after by the growing middle-income group, has led local developer Aspen Group to launch the first affordable development project to cater to this community.

Its chief executive officer Datuk Murly Manokharan said unlike other developers that incorporate low or low-medium cost homes within their projects to fulfil the quota, Aspen was the first to focus on only affordable homes.

“As a business entity, we have been told that there was a variety of pricing for affordable homes. It was either RM500,000 or RM400,000.

“We see RM300,000 as affordable and have worked with the state to achieve this. We were not asked by the state to build these homes, but we see this as a necessity.

“It does not bring us huge returns but if planned well and with the right landbank, we can achieve returns according to the economies of scale,” he said.

He added that the company is also looking at making affordable homes its core business.

“There is a huge demand for this sector. Though we are new and small, we have no commitments to shareholders. We are happy with smaller profit margins.

“This is a deliberate business model. We are looking at a gross development profit of RM400 million,” he said, adding that the company would utilise Singapore’s Housing and Developmet Board (HDB) model with further fine-tuning.

He said a 0.6km road from the present Mount Erskine market would be built as an alternative access road connecting its development.

The project called Tri-Pinnacle on Lebuhraya Halia, Tanjung Tokong will feature 390 low medium cost units of 650 sq feet priced at RM72,500 each and 859 units of affordable units of 800 sq feet costing RM299,000 each.

The property to be sited on a 4ha piece of land behind The Peak development by Ivory Property would begin in the third quarter of the year with a RM95.5 million Islamic financial facility from the Malaysian Building Society Berhad (MBSB).

Established in 2013, Aspen has projects with a gross development value of RM8 billion that would be developed over 10 years including its Vision City in Batu Kawan that is anchored by Swedish chainstore, Ikea.

Murly said Aspen aims to change the perception that low medium cost units are plagued with problems.

“A lot of effort has been put into the design to ensure internal and external qualities are met, including facilities, making it similar to the condominiums one would find in town.

“We are also looking into upgrading the low medium cost in terms of design and outlook, and there is the cross subsidy element between this and affordable units,” he said.

Speaking at a press conference after the signing ceremony between Aspen and MBSB, Murly said in order to reduce the building cost, there would only be one category for low medium cost and affordable units, respectively.

Asked if there were any incentives by the state for carrying out a purely affordable housing development, Murly said speedy approvals were the only incentive.

The units are available to those registered with the state’s affordable housing eligibility board, he said, adding that there were 30,000 people on the state’s list.

“There is only so much the state can do on its own and that is why they asked private developers to help,” he said.

Meanwhile, MBSB president and chief executive officer Datuk Ahmad Zaini Othman said loan packages would be made attractive for buyers but they are free to seek their own financial arrangements.

“We are mindful that these are affordable houses so the package ought to be competitive and not be too pricey and we will put in more protection such as insurance schemes,” he said.

(The Star) Sunway to launch RM350m mixed project by early July

NUSAJAYA: Sunway Group is set to launch its Citrine at The Lakeview Precinct, a self-sustaining mixed development project with gross development value (GDV) of RM350mil, by early July.

Joint managing director of property development division Malaysia/Singapore, Serena Cheah, said the 2.11ha project, which would be completed in three years, would be made available for private preview next month.

“We have received an overwhelming response, with 60% registration interest from the locals and 40% from foreigners, encouragingly from Singaporeans as well as from other countries.

“There is no limit for foreign buyers as Citrine is located in Medini and development within the area is exempted from the real property gains tax,” she told reporters during a familiarisation tour of the site yesterday.Cheah said the Iskandar region was growing and the project (Sunway Iskandar) had good connectivity through existing infrastructure and future integrated transport lines.

“The Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail project will also help boost buying sentiment for the project. All projects in Sunway Iskandar are likely to be fully complete in 15 to 20 years,” she said.

Citrine, the first phase development of 44.92-ha The Lakeview Precinct, offers 328 serviced apartments, 167 office suites and 51 retail units around a picturesque natural lake in the precinct.

The Lakeview Precint has a GDV of RM2bil. Strategically located in Medini Iskandar, the Lakeview Precinct is one of the six precincts making up Sunway Iskandar, an integrated development project with a total GDV of RM30bil spanning over the 728.43ha. – Bernama

The other five precincts are The Capital, The Parkview, The Riverside, The Seafrontand The Marketplace.

Besides Citrine, Sunway would also develop Sunway International School and Sunway Iskandar Campus within the Lakeview Precinct area, which are expected to be completed in five years.

The project in Medini is a joint venture with Khazanah Nasional Bhd with Sunway Group holding 60% interest.

Sunway owns the biggest plot land in Medini with Sunway Iskandar project taking up 31% of the area. – Bernama

(The Star) Ongoing projects boost i-Bhd net profit

I-Bhd executive chairman Tan Sri Lim Kim Hong said: “We expect the growth momentum to continue in the coming months as we have the contribution from i-Suite (phase 1) that was launched towards the end of last year that will enhance our results.”

PETALING JAYA: I-Bhd’s net profit jumped 23.7% to RM6.1mil for the first quarter ended March 31 from RM4.9mil previously on higher profit recognition from ongoing projects.

Revenue expanded 65% to RM44.9mil from RM27.1mil a year ago.

I-Bhd said its property development revenue for its first quarter stood at RM32.7mil which was more than double on a year-on-year basis, adding that this trend was expected to continue for the remaining quarters moving forward.

Pre-tax profit for its property development segment grew to RM8.8mil from RM2.7mil in the previous corresponding period.

“We are seeing sizeable contribution from the sales and progressive completion of the projects that were launched over the past two years, namely from the i-Residence, i-SoVo (small office versatile office) and i-SoHo projects,” I-Bhd executive chairman Tan Sri Lim Kim Hong said in a press statement.

“We expect the growth momentum to continue in the coming months as we have the contribution from i-Suite (phase 1) that was launched towards the end of last year that will enhance our results,” Lim added.

Lim also said in the statement that this performance was in line with its aims to eventually be a bigger property player, noting that its property development segment in the first quarter contributed 73% of its revenue and would continue to be its main contributor moving forward.

I-Bhd will be launching RM1.6bil worth of properties in the coming months including the Grand i-Residence@Kia Peng and the next phase of i-Suite (phase 2) at i-City, Shah Alam.

“Our target is to reach a steady stage in four to five years’ time where we are able to recognise about RM500mil to RM600mil of revenue per year from property development. By then, we would also have built up our investment property portfolio to RM1bil,” Lim said.

“At the same time, the leisure segment revenue would have correspondingly increased to RM100mil per year,” he added.

I-Bhd is also planning to launch The Jewel, its four million sq ft integrated residential, office and hotel at i-City that would be linked to its Central Tower development.

(The Star) Oasis of green

MKH Bhd, an established property developer in Kajang, Selangor, recently strengthened its presence in the Northern Corridor of Shah Alam by unveiling a 550 acre eco-themed integrated township, Hillpark @ Shah Alam North, in conjunction with the opening of its new sales gallery.

The event was officiated by Kuala Selangor District Council chairman Noraini Roslan.

Show units for the development are now open for public viewing. MKH aims to turn the 550 acres of land in Puncak Alam into an affordable eco-themed township with a gross development value (GDV) of RM1.3bil. MKH says it aim to provide affordable landed homes and units of various sizes and designs priced from as low as RM439,000 onwards.

“The entire eco-themed township comprises a mix of both landed and high-rise residential units as well as commercial property that will include including super link, linked semi-detached, bungalows, service apartments and shop offices to be developed over the next five years.

“We expect this to be a rapidly growing township as we saw a good response when we first launched our Pelangi Seri Alam residential project three years ago. All the terrace link units and shop offices have been fully sold and we are now in the midst of handing over keys to homeowners. This allows MKH to grow in other parts of greater Kuala Lumpur apart from Kajang” said MKH managing director Tan Sri Eddy Chen.

Noraini said “I am very happy to see MKH’s initiative in the Northern Corridor of Shah Alam which provide homebuyers’ opportunities to buy affordable landed homes in Puncak Alam at a time when landed properties have gone beyond the reach of many in the Klang Valley.”

Hillpark @ Shah Alam North is located within the mature township of Puncak Alam, Shah Alam, with easy access to seven major highways. It is just 25 minutes away from Shah Alam, Petaling Jaya and Kuala Lumpur and close to existing amenities,” added Chen.

The eco-themed township development will feature a 50-acre forest park and central lake. For the active, there will be mountain bike tracks, jogging tracks and playgrounds among other features. As a measure of passive green design, all the units will be built in the north-south orientation to reduce the heat from the sun which effectively reduces the energy required to cool homes.

“It has always been the desire of MKH to build affordable, quality homes with a conducive environment for a healthy lifestyle. We always believe that affordable housing should be built to high standars of not just quality and amenities, but also safety. As the safety of residents is of paramount importance, we strive to create a safer area in this self-contained township by building perimeter fencing along pedestrian walkways CCTVs at each guardhouse,” said Chen.


(The Star) 'Tourists spent RM19.8bil on shopping'

Grand opening: Muhyiddin launching the Encorp Strand Mall in Kota Damansara. With him are Encorp Berhad executive chairman Datuk Dr MD Hamzah MD Kassim (left) and Encorp Berhad founder Datuk Seri Dr Effendi Norwawi.

PETALING JAYA: Foreign tourists spent RM19.8bil on shopping in the country last year, a 6.3% increase from RM18.6bil in 2012, said Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

He said the retail sector constituted 30.2% of the total tourist expenditure last year against 30.7% in 2012.

The retail sector was a lucrative component of the country’s tourism industry, registering the second biggest share of tourist expenditure after the accommodation sector, he said when launching Encorp Strand Mall in Kota Damansara on Wednesday night.

A sprawling mixed development in Kota Damansara, the three-storey shopping mall has a 435,000sq ft floor area and multi-storey parking for 2,500 cars. It is the flagship of Encorp Strand.

Muhyiddin said 2013 registered RM65.4bil in tourist receipts, an increase of 8% against RM60.6bil in 2012.

He said that through close cooperation between the Govern-ment and tourism industry players to develop the country’s retail sector, Malaysia had garnered international recognition.

“For two consecutive years, 2012 and 2013, Kuala Lumpur was ranked by CNNTravel as the world’s fourth best shopping city after New York, Tokyo and London,” he said.

He said Encorp Strand, with its innovative plans and conducive infrastructure, could help stimulate the economic growth of the Kota Damansara satellite town.

The development would also indirectly support the Greater Kuala Lumpur/Klang Valley Masterplan to become one of the 20 metropolises in the world conducive for economic growth and living experience, he said.

“I am confident that Encorp Strand Mall will be a preferred shopping centre in Kota Damansara and the Klang Valley,” he added. — Bernama

(The Edge) City & Country: Emerald Bay unfazed by property glut concerns

Artist’s impression of Emerald Bay with its manmade waterways.

FOR the well-heeled and those who own yachts and luxury speedboats, a home in the only waterfront development in Iskandar Malaysia might be worth checking out. Bandar Raya Development Bhd’s (BRDB) Emerald Bay, with its manmade waterways, could be just the location for seafaring homeowners.

“Emerald Bay is in Puteri Harbour, Iskandar Malaysia, on 111 freehold acres near the marina,” says chief marketing officer K C Chong. “Almost all the landed houses have water frontage and their own private berths. We are the only private water site development in Malaysia with direct access to the sea.”

Emerald Bay has a gross development value (GDV) of RM3.7 billion. In December 2013, it held a Phase 1 pre-launch of 82 units that has achieved a 75% take-up rate to date. Phase 1 has a GDV of RM370 million.

While the project has got off to a good start, the immediate concern is of a property glut in the Johor market. Chong believes it is a minor issue, considering “the supply has not yet materialised”.

“There have been a lot of launches and when people see that, they say there will be a glut,” he says.  In fact, he says, “A lot of demand is being created in the Iskandar region.  From our own involvement in Emerald Bay you see the quality of people and the quality of interest. For example, we have expatriates from Singapore looking to buy landed properties as well as our apartments because they have children going to schools in Iskandar, such as Marlborough College Malaysia.

“In Singapore, the private schools are full, in fact, Singapore expatriates love it when we do private schools in Iskandar, which means they can work in Singapore but have their children in Iskandar. And buyers in KL are buying into Emerald Bay because they have children in college here.

“There is also demand from hospitals coming up in Iskandar, such as Colombia, Gleneagles and Raffles Medical Centre. And the Singapore government allows its  citizens to use their CPF funds to buy a house. So there is a lot of demand.”

A joint-venture project with UEM Land, Emerald Bay is situated in Puteri Harbour Iskandar Malaysia and is near the Puteri Harbour marina. It is not far from Singapore and the Johor Custom, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) centre, so boats from aboard can come through without too much hassle, Chong notes. Once completed, this fully stratified and guarded community will feature 1,500 homes, comprising terraced courtyard houses, semi-detached houses, villas and mid-rise condominiums.

“The word we use throughout the whole master planning and the design of the houses is ‘chill’,” says Chong. “We want our homes to be a place where you can chill out, so what you see is a tropical resort design taking advantage of the water.”

The 3-storey courtyard homes (built-up: 3,262 sq ft) are priced from RM2.5 million to RM3.5 million, and the 4-storey courtyard homes (built-up: 4,321 sq ft) from RM3.5 million to RM5.2million. The semidees are priced from RM3.5 million to RM5 million (built-up: 4,285 sq ft) and the villas (built-up: 5,387 sq ft) from RM6.5 million to RM8 million. The condos have not been priced at the moment. There is also a residents only clubhouse for gatherings and other occasions.

Landscaping has been carefully planned to include sandy beaches where families can experience that beachside feel, in addition to greenery around the development.

A harbour master is located near the entrance to the development to allow boats in and out of Emerald Bay. There is also an inlet and outlet valve so that water can flow freely into and out of the project to allay fears of stagnant water.  For those concerned about the corrosiveness of sea water, Chong says all materials used in building the homes are marine grade.

The launch of Phase 2 of Emerald Bay is slated for 3Q2014.
The landscape has been designed to include sandy beaches. Chong: A lot of demand is being created in the Iskandar region.
Market outlook

The property market in Iskandar Malaysia is expected to soften in the coming months. However, Chong believes it is in a state of correction and will eventually find its equilibrium.

“Johor over the last couple of years has been doing a bit of catching up,” he says. “It was a bit quieter than our major cities. The focus is now on Johor and Iskandar, and things will find their own equilibrium eventually.

“I think we have a market that is a bit more selective. Obviously not everybody is out of pocket. When people can buy, they should because land prices are going up. If you buy, you have to be selective and do your homework. Buy something you like and want. The days of speculative buying have been tempered quite a bit.”

Says KGV International Property Consultants’ executive director Samuel Tan, “Iskandar Malaysia continues to do well, attracting both local and foreign investments.

“There is also evidence of job creation as seen in the opening of the Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios. In its first production, there was huge demand for downstream local skills.

“The government announced the creation of another three nodes like Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios for the creative industry, Danga Bay for hospitality and Vantage Bay for healthcare. With these, it is hoped more investors will be attracted to Iskandar Malaysia.

“Indeed, the last two quarters saw the entry of mammoth property players from China, such as Guangzhou R&F Properties, Greenland Group and Hao Yuan Investment Pte Ltd.”

Tan also explains Emerald Bay is located in Puteri Harbour in Nusajaya, which was a greenfield area where infrastructure was built prior to the 2008/09 financial crisis, which basically makes it ready for development, he says.

Puteri Harbour comprises several key components, some under construction and others that have been completed. Those under construction are mainly high-end serviced apartments, including Teega by UEM Sunrise, Pinetree Residences by Tiong Nam Properties, Somerset Puteri Harbour by UM Land, and Puteri Cove Residences by Pacific Star Group, Tan says.

Attractions there include Traders Hotel, Hello Kitty Indoor Theme Park, Puteri Harbour Clubhouse, the private and public marina and newly completed CIQ building. A short distance from Puteri Harbour is the distinctive Kota Iskandar , which is Johor’s new administrative centre.

With these components, Tan believes that Emerald Bay is in good position to do well.

“Since it is a niche development and with not many houses launched at any one time, the developer is expecting a good take-up.  The present property market is not expected to have any adverse effects on Emerald Bay,” he says.

While concerns about a property glut in Johor may worry some, projects such as Emerald Bay, located within key locations in Iskandar Malaysia, look  to hold steady in a cautious market.

(The Edge) City & Country: Aiming for the big league

EcoSpring, set amidst lakes and streams, is framed by a tropical landscape

HAVING bulked up over the past year, property developer Eco World Development Group has set itself a lofty sales target of RM5 billion in two years. Its ability to execute has yet to be tested, but the new kid on the block has a valuable asset on its side — an experienced team, says group president and CEO Datuk Chang Khim Wah.

With its shiny marble floor and a high ceiling with grand-looking hanging crystal lights, Eco World Development Group Bhd’s gallery in Johor Baru looks more like a five-star hotel. The wow factor was just what the company wanted. After all, says group president and CEO Datuk Chang Khim Wah, quality is key to the developer.

Eco World has been making the headlines since emerging on the property development scene more than a year ago, and for good reason too. The company was formed and is headed by the same team that made S P Setia Bhd the country’s foremost property developer. Its directors include Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Manaf and Datuk Leong Kok Wah, both former directors of S P Setia; Liew Tian Xiong, the son of former S P Setia president and CEO Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin; Datuk S Rajoo who headed S P Setia’s developments in the north; and Chang, who headed S P Setia’s southern developments. Kee Sin joined Eco World’s board as a non-independent non-executive director on May 5.

Last year, Eco World acquired about 3,000 acres in the country’s three main property hot spots — the Klang Valley, Penang and Johor. At the end of the year, its holding company and Tian Xiong acquired a 65% stake in Johor-based property developer Focal Aims Holdings Bhd for RM230.69 million.

On April 25 this year, Eco World announced a major corporate exercise that will give it an immediate and enlarged presence in the Klang Valley, Iskandar Malaysia and Penang.

With proposed acquisitions of development rights from its subsidiaries, Eco World will increase its landbank from 1,326 acres to 4,433 acres with its gross development value (GDV) growing from RM13.5 billion to RM43.5 billion. This will expand its development pipeline from 3 to 11 projects, which are slated to be launched within the next one to two years. Recently, the company acquired 309 acres in Canal City, Selangor, from Tropicana Corp Bhd for RM470.67 million.

Eco World’s first two projects — the 9.6-acre integrated development EcoSky in the Klang Valley and the 325.1-acre township EcoBotanic in Iskandar Malaysia — were launched late last year. As at March 31 this year, the two developments had chalked up sales of RM1.13 billion.

With a larger size and presence in the property market, Eco World has set its sights on transforming itself into one of Malaysia’s top property developers.

An emerging force to be reckoned with

Eco World has set itself what some may consider an ambitious sales target of RM5 billion in two years (RM2 billion in 2014 and RM3 billion in 2015) — figures that are usually associated with big names such as Mah Sing Group Bhd.

While it is a new kid on the block with untested execution capability, it has a valuable asset — an experienced team.

“Confidence is a key word. We have a team of very experienced people. Most of us have been working together since the mid-1990s and have gone through many cycles of development,” says Chang.

“We understand our jobs and we have always been agile and able to adapt quickly.  We come together to brainstorm and in every difficult situation, we have been able to come up with solutions. We believe this tradition is still being upheld in Eco World and I believe in the team.”

Foo Gee Jen, managing director of CH Williams Talhar & Wong Sdn Bhd (WTW), agrees that the people at Eco World give the developer a distinct advantage.

“A lot of people see Eco World as another S P Setia because the team Liew senior had built in S P Setia is running the show in Eco World. I believe Eco World will do even better because most of the team members are already well known in the market. So, it is not like any other new developer. I can see customers of S P Setia following them to Eco World,” says Foo.

To propel the company forward, Eco World has chosen to focus on locations its team knows and understands — the Klang Valley, Iskandar Malaysia and Penang.

“These are where the catchment and financial power are. The Klang Valley is the capital, Iskandar Malaysia is growing while Penang has an expanding economy. These are the three best spots in Malaysia to build our base as quickly as possible. Our manpower is also concentrated in these three areas and we won’t spread ourselves thin by focusing on them,” says Chang.

“The first few years are very important to us, we have to get the right product, the right marketing and quality. So we must be in locations we know and understand.”

With four launches scheduled for May 25 and another five to six targeted for the next 12 months, Chang feels that the company has gained momentum.

“I think you can see we are a fast-growing company. We are happy with our performance in the 18 months we have been around, but we also know we have a long way to go. We are forever at the drawing board to find ways to grow even faster.”

However, growing fast will not be at the expense of the buyers, stresses Chang.

“Delivery is key. We can say anything we want but in the end, we have to be able to deliver to not only our buyers, but also our shareholders and stakeholders. I can’t comment on whether we have been very successful, but we are rolling and we will give our very best.”

Based on the calibre of its team, there are certain expectations of Eco World. In a May 11 report, CIMB Equities Research says Eco World will perform as well as S P Setia and has the benefit of experience that will enable it to achieve big success quickly.

Has this put pressure on Eco World to catch up with the industry’s leaders?

While Chang cannot answer for the other shareholders, he says he is focused on multiplying the company’s market catchment and enhancing value for its shareholders and stakeholders.

“I’m not looking at our competitors. Yes, we came from S P Setia, but S P Setia is just one company. There are many other big developers with certain market share in the industry. As far as I’m concerned, our job is to expand as quickly as we can, ensure we get the right product in the right place and then focus on delivering. If we do all this right — and we do have all the people in place to do it properly — I think the results will come.

“While we are not overly concerned about the other companies, we still must have knowledge of the market trends and movement. In the end, it’s about making sure we can perform. If we are ahead, that’s good. If we have to catch up, then we will do just that.”

Chang is keenly aware of the risks, citing the country’s stability and the world’s economy as the two main factors that could derail its plans. Even so, he is confident that Eco World is in a good position to ride out any downturn with a diverse product range being one of its key strategies.

“We already have the expertise to build a range of products, whether it’s a township or commercial, integrated or industrial development. For example, if the commercial market is not doing well, we can fall back on our townships.

“We believe it’s good to have a presence in most segments of the market, and we will continue to do so as long as we have the expertise. It will help us if there are any adverse economic situations. Today, we believe in our townships, we think they are attractive and will do well. Next year, it could be something else. What’s most important is having the right people with the right expertise.”
EcoMajestic, the developer’s largest eco township in the Klang Valley, will have landscaped gardens with gazebos

Economic changes and market risks

Maybank Investment Bank Bhd (Maybank IB) says in a May 12 note that the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax and an expected hike in the overnight policy rate will impact housing affordability, which in turn will affect sales.

The research house notes that in a scenario where property prices adjust 6% alongside a 50bps rise in interest rates by end-2014, the Housing Affordability Index, which has been trending downwards since 2009, could decline further. This could lead to a drop in property sales.

In Iskandar Malaysia, where Eco World has seven projects with a GDV of more than RM21 billion, Maybank IB says investors are concerned about rising competition, especially with the entry of Chinese developers, and an oversupply situation.

Chang believes Eco World has enough in its arsenal to attract buyers and earn their trust.

“Changes in economic and government policies are beyond any developer’s control. Whilst the market has been challenging since the second half of last year, following the announcement of numerous policies at both federal and state government levels to curb speculation, underlying real demand is also very strong. Nevertheless, buyers are increasingly selective and apart from good location and concepts, their confidence in the developer’s brand and ability to deliver is of paramount importance.

“Developers that have a strong track record and been able to anticipate what the market wants and launch products that meet their customers’ current lifestyle needs whilst providing good long-term value appreciation potential have continued to do well,” says Chang.

He points out that Eco World launched EcoSky and EcoBotanic after the cooling measures were announced, and both have “performed tremendously with combined sales achieved of RM1.13 billion”.

“It has a lot to do with our philosophy, marketing and design, which we will continuously enhance. We are selling to a lot of end-users, so it comes back to what we can offer them in a given point in time, and how we moderate our pace accordingly. We want to be a developer where even in the worst of times, people still have faith in us, and when they need a home, they will still choose us.”

CIMB echoes Chang’s confidence, saying, “Eco World should weather any slowdown in the property sector better than its peers as most of its landbank is earmarked for landed townships where it has the flexibility to alter its product mix. In the current environment, landed affordable homes should continue to see strong demand as there remains a shortage of such products.”

WTW’s Foo does not consider Eco World a new player and thus does not think it will face risks that are commonly associated with new companies.

“I think Eco World is equal to or even better than some of the old hands in the industry because of its team. Put Liew senior, who has officially joined the board, in the equation and it is even stronger.”

CIMB believes Eco World’s key weakness is its relatively high obligations and start-up costs. It notes that after the recent acquisitions, the group’s total borrowings will increase from RM52 million to RM208 million. Including RM1.85 billion in deferred payments for land cost, total borrowings would stand at slightly above RM2 billion. However, it says, high gearing is not unusual for a company in the early stages of growth and strong sales and cash flow should provide it with a buffer against high obligation levels.

It also notes that as the company is new with an increasing number of employees — and sales having started only last September — its profit margin is likely to be compressed by high overheads.

“We estimate narrow pretax margins of 10% to 15% in the early years, lower than S P Setia’s and the sector average of 20% to 25%. But as many new projects will get off the ground in the coming years, the high staff cost will be spread over many projects and economies of scale can be reaped.”

Chang believes that with six projects to be launched by year-end, Eco World will be able to achieve its sales target of RM2 billion for FY2014.

“Our sales target for FY2015 of RM3 billion remains unchanged as well. With another five projects to be added to the pipeline, we are confident that we will be able to achieve the targets set.”

In the DNA

Eco World will be launching four developments simultaneously on May 25. They are its flagship 1,073.1-acre township EcoMajestic in Semenyih, Selangor; EcoSpring and EcoSummer with a combined 613.8 acres in Tebrau, Iskandar Malaysia; and the 612-acre Eco Business Park 1. These have a GDV of RM11.14 billion, RM5.87 billion and RM3.8 billion respectively.
Chang: Delivery is key. We can say anything we want but in the end, we have to be able to deliver to not only our buyers, but also our shareholders and stakeholders.

EcoMajestic will be the developer’s largest eco township in the Klang Valley and is inspired by Malaysia’s rich heritage. The development will offer terraced houses with colonial-style designs and bungalow lots. It will also have over 100 acres of green and open space, a sizeable 150-acre commercial precinct and a dedicated LEKAS-EcoMajestic interchange to improve accessibility.

“The freehold EcoMajestic is only about 20 minutes from Cheras and 10 minutes from Kajang. Both areas are very densely populated, so we expect to see a spillover from them. We named it EcoMajestic because it’s designed to be regal. There’s a bridge at the entrance and we will have landscaped gardens with gazebos,” says Chang.

According to him, the first phase will comprise about 600 terraced houses with a GDV of RM400 million and prices start at RM550,000.

“Once we have launched the residential component, we will start planning the commercial part. We intend to build a new city centre for this corridor, which may become the biggest landed strata development in the region.”

EcoSpring and EcoSummer, which sit side by side, are set amidst lakes and streams, framed by a tropical landscape and inspired by classical European architecture. It will offer a mix of affordable and upgrader terraced, cluster and semi-detached homes. The freehold developments will have an 18-acre town park, some 16% of which is reserved for greenery and lakes. Prices start at RM650,000.

Eco Business Park 1 is a fully serviced green business park catering for medium and light industrial businesses. It will comprise commercial shopoffices, cluster factories, semi-detached factories, detached factories and customised factories. Prices start at RM1.5 million.

“It is in our DNA to emphasise landscaping in our townships. Key features of our developments are gardens or ponds at the main entrance. Another important element is security. We believe this is very important for our townships as well as our business parks,” says Chang, adding that response to pre-sales marketing has been very encouraging. He expects the launches to do as well.

“Wherever our development is located, we always look for a high percentage of end-users. So, we focus a lot on the overall design of our master plan and the environment to make sure we are competitive on that front. It’s necessary to create that critical mass in each township.

“We believe that if we do our townships well, that will gain us a number of followers. And if they are happy with us, they will buy our commercial properties and everything will fall into place. The commercial land in the townships will become very valuable in the end with the GDV as much as the overall development,” says Chang.

While Eco World is targeting end-users, Chang says it is not neglecting investors.

“We want investors to come in too as they bring a certain level of excitement, which will generate momentum for us. So we want a combination of end-users and investors. I think our products can offer both these groups good value.”

On a personal note, Chang acknowledges that there is pressure on him, but as he is someone who cannot sit still, “it has been a fun ride”.

“I think all of us get to do more than what we did in our previous company and because our foundations are already solid, we can afford to implement new ideas. We are still learning, but we are not on a beginner’s curve. We have the spirit to push harder and because we have the team in place, we can do so without too much fear. If we do what we planned, our stakeholders and shareholders will enjoy the fruits of our labours.”