Brave new developments


DESPITE the lacklustre predictions for the rest of the world as far as real estate markets go, the local property scene is generally viewed as still promising.

Whether you are an optimist or a pessimist, the local property market is full of opportunities, if you know how to hedge your bets and make informed decisions.

This column offers a source of news about all kinds of property development and investment.

We create the buzz on the Klang Valley scene and even beyond. Be amazed on what you can learn.

New plans

A recent media appreciation night at Seni Mont’ Kiara hosted by Ireka Development Management Sdn Bhd (IDM) — a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ireka Corp Bhd — was well attended.

IDM president and chief executive officer Lai Voon Hon and his sister Monica Lai, who is chief financial officer, played host to the event.

Both of them are also executive directors of Ireka Corp.

Ostensibly, the appreciation event was for the media’s support of Ireka’s “I-Zen brand of luxury properties” and the dinner was held at the Seni Mont’ Kiara condo development which has a gross development value estimated at RM1.5bil.

Coincidentally, Ireka was “releasing” its final batch of 80 premium units. What good timing.

The completed development comprises four residential towers — two 40-storey blocks (A & B) and two 12-storey blocks (C & D) — with a total of 605 units.

The project site spans an expansive 8.8 acres. The blocks are named Van Gogh (234 units), Picasso (234 units), Dali (46 units) and Monet (91 units).

The final two “stacks” of condo units in the Picasso Block (B) are said to command the best views of the KL city skyline.

Prices start from RM850 psf, with a built-up space of between 2,906 sq ft and 3,714 sq ft. Generally, each unit comes with three parking bays.

According to Monica, the last two stacks offer the best units.

“We saw the demand for completed properties particularly for the foreign markets,” she said.

“The final released units have attracted investors in countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and India. On the local front, we are also seeing more homeowners buying into the SENI lifestyle for the spacious and generous layout, the resort-style landscape and the million-dollar views.”

KLCC vicinity

Knowing that something was happening at the KLCC neighbourhood with Ireka.

This was with regard to the one acre plot on Jalan Kia Peng purchased by the company a couple of years ago belonging to the late Puan Sri Eileen Kuok.

For those not familiar with the property, it was previously leased to the Bon Ton restaurant and subsequently, the Top Hats restaurant.

The company plans to build a condo block or two. Although details have not been finalised, some 200 condo units with built-up space of between 800 sq ft — 1,000 sq ft each, are being planned.

There will be also be a hotel component of 200-300 rooms for sale. Yes, for sale.

It’s something relatively novel for property investors here. Naturally, it is aimed at the affluent segment of the market, especially people who would like to say, they own a hotel, or at least a part of it.

Said Voon Hon: “We can’t build 400 condo units as we need to maintain a certain ‘exclusive’ image. And a hotel fits into the plan.”

Apparently, an international management outfit will run the hotel. Lest we forget, Ireka built and then sold the Westin KL hotel for a handsome profit not too long ago.

Anyway, the price per square foot has not been determined but you can bet it will be about RM1,000 if not more, for that kind of locality.

Sentral

Speaking of hotel property, Ireka will also launch the Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral by March 15 next year.

The Aloft brand is marketed as a “vision of W Hotels” under the Starwood group. This new hotel development is touted to offer a stylish place to wine, dine and be seen.

The hotel management agreement was recently signed between the hotel owner — Iringan Flora Sdn Bhd — a subsidiary of Ireka’s associate company, Aseana Properties Ltd and Starwood Asia Pacific Hotels & Resorts Pte Ltd.

The hotel tower is located next to the upcoming NU Sentral Mall, which is part of Lot G that forms a mixed-development project comprising two other Grade A office towers in KL Sentral.

Both the hotel and office towers are developed by Excellent Bonanza Sdn Bhd.

It is a joint-venture project of 60:40 proportions between Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB) and Aseana.

The hotel development management outfit is IDM.

Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral will feature 482 rooms within a 31-storey tower, several function rooms and a ballroom which can accommodate up to 850 persons.

Watch out for the Re:mix lobby lounge, the w xyz theme bar, the Re:fuel bar, nook all-day-dining restaurant, Re:charge fitness centre, Chill Out Sky Bar, “infinity sky” and adding pools as well as the Touch & Go kiosk providing Internet-based services.

Sandakan

And over in Sabah, Ireka has also been busy via Aseana. It is involved in the Sandakan Harbour Square, a waterfront development on 12 acres.

This joint-venture project with the Sandakan Municipal Council, is developed by ICSD Ventures Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Aseana.

Managed by IDM, the urban redevelopment project, comprises retail lots, a three-storey central market, a mall and a business-class hotel managed by Four Points by Sheraton.

Phase 1 and 2 of the retail lots have been completed and 100% sold. Phase 3 Harbour Mall Sandakan and Phase 4 Four Points by Sheraton will have a soft-opening by May this year.

Phase 3 of the five-level Harbour Mall Sandakan will be the first harbour shopping centre in the heart of Sandakan, with 200,000 sq ft of retail space.

Also scheduled for opening in May, some of the mall tenants are Parkwell, Levi’s, Gintel, Bata, GNC, The Body Shop, Tomei Gold & Jewellery, SOX World, SN Mutiara, SOG, Jeff Eyewear Space, Coolcity and Watsons.

The mall will also have a 10,000 sq ft food court and a 6,000 sq ft entertainment and games centre.

Under Phase 4 and rising above the Harbour Mall, will be a 26-storey hotel tower boasting the Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan with 300 rooms. It will be Sandakan’s first hotel with an international brand.

Tan & Tan

Meanwhile, on the “other side” of KLCC — where its shadow doesn’t quite fall — Tan & Tan Developments Bhd has been doing brisk business with its serviced apartment project launched recently.

At one time, quite famous, Tan & Tan — now part of IGB Corp Bhd following an intricate corporate restructuring exercise — has in the past few years taken a backseat in the property scene. But its latest G Residence project with a gross development value of RM430mil, has got property buyers excited and attracted renewed interest in the company.

The development site of 3.6 acres of leasehold land is located on the “back-side” of Royal Selangor Golf Club in Kampung Pandan.

Most of the prime units — meaning those that offer unobstructed views of the Royal Selangor Golf Club and Petronas Twin Towers — have been snapped up.

The project, comprising two 23-storey tower blocks, is expected to be completed by February 2015. Block A has sold all 295 units while Block B — to date — sold 60% of its 179 units. However, the property comes with a commercial title, so expect to pay more for certain utility rates.

There are five types of layout design and the built-up space range from 1,076 sq ft - 3,315 sq ft. The average price is RM650 psf. Thus, the selling price ranges from RM610,000 – RM1mil.

G Residence is aimed at young professionals, either single or with families.

Melawati area

And further afield from KLCC over in Melawati, several development companies have been rather busy, of late.

For instance, Mitraland has a residential project about to be hatched in the second half of this year. It involves exclusive “town villas” of about 30 units.

But watch out for another, yet-to-be announced landed-property development by a joint-venture outfit that involves professionals in the property business.

The project is in nearby Kemensah Heights spanning over five acres and involving some 50 units of townhouses and cluster-linked houses.

Price-wise, it will be highly competitive although the cheapest unit cost slightly over a million ringgit. But the finishing material will be “high-end” so said one of the stakeholders.

Daunted by the escalating prices of KL property and yet still want to find a condo home with an upmarket address?

For that, I did come across something that cost less than RM400,000 per unit in the Ampang enclave.

Land & General Bhd is offering newly, re-configured studio units of 520 sq ft with the cheapest unit at RM375,000.

However, The Elements @ Ampang residential project behind Flamingo Hotel is high-density, with two tower blocks of 520 units each.

The recent promotion offering the new studio units was aimed at younger buyers with an eye on an upmarket condo lifestyle. Mind you, the average price per square foot here is RM750, a figure not to be sneezed at.

According to L&G sales and marketing head Lim Kok Yee, the recent promotion yielded some 20 sales transactions over a weekend. But the focus was on the larger units of between 700sq ft to 800sq ft. You work out the maths.

> Log on to www.starproperty.com for more on properties worth investing. Search the portal to track and compare prices.

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