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Saturday December 5, 2009

A first of its kind

MOST people would have had the very bothersome and cumbersome experience of moving into a new house. There is the furniture to choose, the kitchen cabinets to put up, the grille and lighting to install and the flooring and heating system to consider. The to-do list can be insane!

So it promises to be a relief that a one-stop centre for home products and related services will be set up at the end of 2010 to help homeowners clear all that workload.

Viva Home is giving you the whole range of household needs. Not only can you buy furniture, you can also get your automated gate, flooring and tiles here... MARTIN HAEGER

Viva Home will be the first of its kind in the country when it opens its doors for business. It will be complemented by a range of food and beverage (F&B), leisure and entertainment outlets as well as a hypermarket.

Located along Jalan Loke Yew, Kuala Lumpur, Viva Home is a redevelopment of an existing building carried out by Viva Mall Sdn Bhd, a company under the Kha Seng Corp Sdn Bhd umbrella, a niche commercial property developer with previous projects such as Central Market and Kenanga Wholesale City in its portfolio.

The mall will feature five levels, 300 tenants and 2,100 car park bays. Refurbishment work has already begun and when completed, Viva Home will offer a net lettable area of 660,000 sq ft for lease.

Typical lot sizes range from 300 to 2,000 sq ft. Mini anchors range up to 15,000 sq ft. Rental rates will range between RM4 to RM20 per sq ft, with some being on a profit sharing basis.

At its launch on Tuesday, a symbolic signing ceremony was held between Viva Home, MBO Cinema, ICT Gadgets (50,000 sq ft) and Old Town Kopitiam (10,000 sq ft).

Viva Home also confirmed that a major hypermarket operator has signed on as an anchor tenant, taking up some 60,000 sq ft. The name will be announced when the required trade licences have been obtained.

The retail mix will be 60% home products while the remaining 40% will be shared by the F&B outlets, information and communications technology outlets, oriental handiworks and the hypermarket.

A further 60,000 sq ft will be dedicated for an exhibition hall, which will be used by home product manufacturers and suppliers. The mall has a take up rate of 50% at the moment.

Says Bernard Bong, managing director of Viva Mall Sdn Bhd: “When completed, we envision that the Viva Home mixed development will rejuvenate the Jalan Loke Yew area. Viva Home is not a neighbourhood mall. It will add identity and create major activity for the Jalan Loke Yew area.”

“We took up this venture after extensive research and market survey. We discovered an opportunity in the home furniture and furnishing sector for a destination which provides a comprehensive home shopping experience.

An artist impression of Viva Home. The mall will feature five levels, 300 tenants and 2,100 car park bays

“We found that when people shop overseas, they buy bags, clothes among other things, but not home products. They don’t buy products which require after sales services. Even for the super rich, they want to buy these things from Malaysia,” says Bong.

Exclusive leasing agent for Viva Home, DTZ regional head of retail, Southeast Asia, Ungku Suseelawati Omar says convenience is a very strong driving force.

“There is no need for you to go all over Kuala Lumpur sourcing and comparing products. You get everything in one place. There are loading bays for bulky purchases, spacious lifts and ample parking to make it a stress free experience,” she says.

HL Design Group is the architectural and interior design consultants of the project. Its director, Martin Haeger says Viva Home is not going head on with IKEA or any other home furnishing shops.

“Viva Home is giving you the whole range of household needs. Not only can you buy furniture, you can also get your automated gate, flooring and tiles here. Its totally different from what we have today,” says Haeger.

He adds that the complete refurbishment of the mall includes the planning and redesign of the mall internally and externally, the creation of a mall entrance and retail configuration.

All amenities and parking facilities will be upgraded and improved with some parking bays only for women shoppers. About RM70mil will be spent on refurbishment.

Besides the retail mall, Phase 2 of the mixed development will feature a 260-room boutique business-class hotel above the retail mall.

Construction of Phase 2 is due to begin in six months and will cost about RM80mil.

“If you look at hotels which are located in the vicinity of malls, for instance The Bintang Royale in The Curve, Cititel Hotel and Boulevard Hotel in Mid Valley mall, these hotels have been extremely successful.

“People like to be near the hustle and bustle of it all. They want the convenience of being able to do their shopping just a doorstep away,” says Haeger.

Bong is confident the mall will take off successfully.

“For any project that we undertake, we always prepare for the worse. If the project looks feasible even under such stringent measures, then we say ‘it’s on’,” says Bong.

Haeger adds that property developers have also turned more positive in the last quarter, and have indicated more enthusiasm in launching their products in the near future.

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