From squatter area to classy township

AFTER passing the Batu Tiga toll, take the right lane and go up the elevated highway.  

Along Jalan Kepong, you’ll see Jusco on the left. The area where Jusco now stands, together with the surrounding township, was once a squatter area. It is now a very modern and comfortable township. 

The Metro Prima township is the work of property developer Magna Prima. If the name sounds familiar to you, it is probably because the company was once a major earthworks, quarrying and construction company. Magna Prima is now a property developer, and a pretty good one at that. 

The development could have been done in a slipshod manner, but this was not the case and the place looks like a typical KL shopping township, complete with different fast-food restaurants, noodle joints and creative bakeries. 

Ahmad Ghazali Md Kassim

In fact, Metro Prima is the company’s first development. The township, a KL Town Council (DBKL) privatised development on 88 acres, ironically began in the depths of the economic crisis of 1997 with many detractors, and the added complication of moving people from the location. 

Right now, Magna Prima is in the process of developing its second last site in the Metro Prima township, the recently-launched Casa Prima Condominium towers. Consisting of three tower blocks of 252 residential-only units, the apartments are priced from RM168,000 with a built-up area of 1,100 sq ft, and come in seven layout options. Facilities include gated community security, clubhouse, swimming pool, sauna, gym and covered car park, and card-access security. These apartments are already 40% sold. 

Chief executive officer Ahmad Ghazali Md Kassim was quick to mention that the apartments, although modern, were designed on the “two-generation” concept. It is among the first to offer four bedrooms. 

Also under construction at Metro Prima is Phase 3C's Mutiara Magna, consisting of 1,506 units of low-cost apartments in multiple blocks of 15 storeys, with a few small shoplots at the lower levels. The apartments are located opposite Suria Magna – consisting of 504 units, Phase 1B, low-cost 15-storey flats and Pelangi Magna – comprising 448 units, Phase 1B1, low-medium-cost flats. 

Ghazali said these would be the first low-cost apartments to offer an attached bathroom to the master bedroom. This is part of the company’s efforts to foster a good brand image by providing more than just the bare minimum. But, he mentioned that DBKL’s requirements were also becoming more stringent for such developments. 

A project where construction has actually not yet begun is the Plaza Prima commercial units and condominiums. Already 70% sold, it will be similar to the existing Vista Magna mixed development opposite Jusco. 

Another project that the company has undertaken is, of course, The Avare, a RM180mil joint venture with Telekom Malaysia Bhd. The 78-unit 5-Star diamond class luxury condominium near KLCC will be built on a 46,048-sq ft plot of Telekom-owned land behind the Singapore Embassy. Using a glass-curtain construction, the apartments will have an un-obscured 360-degree view of the city. 

“Glass-curtain construction is actually almost three times more expensive than ordinary construction methods,” said Ghazali. 

About 50% of the high-end units, priced from RM3.25mil, are already sold. Currently, Magna Prima derives more than 60% of its revenue from property development, with the rest from construction, engineering and trading.  

For the half year to June 30, 2005, the group turned in net profit of RM907,000, more than triple the RM256,00 posted in the same period last year. At the same time, there was nearly 15% drop in group turnover to RM44.25mil from RM52.04mil previously. 

“This was largely due to leveraging on synergies within the group and focusing on operational efficiencies that the drop in group turnover did not result in a corresponding decline in profits,” said Ghazali.  

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