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Tuesday April 17, 2012

Developers waiting for tenders to redevelop EPF owned RRI land in SG.Buloh

No sign of master plan

PETALING JAYA: The race is heating up among property players gunning for a piece of the long-awaited redevelopment of the 1,215 ha Rubber Research Institute (RRI) land in Sungai Buloh, industry sources said.

While some property players have presented their ideas and many others having registered interest with the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) the land-owner and master developer of the project the developers have yet to hear of more details or any formal time line being set.

Said a developer: “We have not been informed about the reserved price yet, we are waiting in anticipation for that announcement.”

Some quarters reckoned that the project might be delayed due to the land conversion and other legal issues still being work in progress.

MRT boost: While the residential and commercial development would unlock the value of the land, it is the new My Rapid Transit line and its connectivity which would help to add considerable value to the residential and commericial projects in that area.

In March, EPF chief executive officer Tan Sri Azlan Zainol said the pension fund was expected to start distributing portions of the 1,215 ha land, by June.

A property consultant told StarBiz that if the June deadline for the land allocation was to have been met, more details and a tender date should have been revealed by now.

Azlan had said EPF would start calling for tenders. At that time, he said each phase would be between 12.15 ha and 20.25 ha portions.

EPF public relations manager Nik Effendi Nik Jaafar said it would make an announcement at an appropriate time.

However, a senior state executive councillor for Selangor Investment, Industry and Trade said that he had not seen the Exco papers on this land conversion to date. “There is no reason to reject any application as long as the landowner follows all the rules and procedures of land applications. The Exco will normally approve it,” he said.

The RRI land would have to be converted from agriculture to another use. The development is likely to have a big linear park supported with other peripheral green lung dotting the entire project. Walkways, open spaces and water features are some of the likely aesthetics.

Besides the residential and commercial aspects, the project would also be housing the My Rapid Transit (MRT) depot. The site of the depot, with a land area of about 180 acres, have already been cleared.

While the residential and commercial development would unlock the value of the land, which currently is a wide expanse of rubber plantation, it is the new MRT line and its connectivity which would help to add considerable value to the residential and commericial projects in that area.

According to sources, the bulk of affordable housing would be located in nearby the MRT line.

Another issue for a possible delay in this project is that the master plan may have yet to be finalised.

A source said the master plan for the 1,215 ha might be tweaked a bit. While it is normal for master plans to be tweaked several times before they are finalised, in the case for the RRI land, the status of that master plan is also unclear.

It is learnt that EPF, through its subsidiary Kwasa Land Sdn Bhd, will enter into joint ventures with strong developers. Up until last week, Kwasa was still asking for developers to register their interest and to send in their company profile.

Said a source: “It may not an outright sale of land. EPF would not need to come up with the capital as the capital is the land that it has been bestowed with by the Government. They would carve out the land in parcels of varying sizes, depending on the use of it. It could be anything between 100 acres and 500 acres.”

Because of the size and value involved, and the gains to be had from it, a developer who succeeded in getting a parcel designated for residential use might not get a piece for commercial use, to ensure fair and just distribution, said a source.

“There are plans for different nodes of it. The plan is to develop the place concurrently as much as possible with several developers working on their parcels respectively with land closer to the MRT to have affordable housing nearby,” the source said.

Out of 1,215ha, Malaysian Rubber Board director-general Datuk Dr Salmiah Ahmad reiterated that 217 ha would be retained by the board. The MRT depot would occupy about 72ha. The commercial and residential portion, and its infrastructures and parks and open space would occupy the remaining land. The development is to be slated over the next 10 to 15 years.

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