Forest City to seek buyers elsewhere

KUALA LUMPUR (March 31): In an effort to rely less on mainland Chinese buyers, Country Garden Holdings is planning to attract potential purchasers from Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Middle East for its mega project in Malaysia, Forest City.  

“The capital controls will have an impact on Forest City,” Yu Runze, chief strategy officer of Country Garden Pacificview, told Reuters, adding it was an “opportunity to shift our sales strategy to be more international”.

He also told Reuters Country Garden will recruit local staff in the targeted markets and boost its advertising budget there.

Forest City, covering 14 sq km of land on four artificial islands in Johor and with a gross development value of RM444 billion, has been successful in attracting many Chinese buyers by offering affordable prices and access to Malaysia’s visa programme for long-term stays.

Country Garden is the second-largest developer in China. Aside from Forest City, Country Garden has three other developments in Malaysia, namely Central Park and Danga Bay, which like Forest City are also in Johor, and Diamond City in Semenyih, Selangor.

The South China Morning Post reported that to curb capital outflows, the Chinese government in January banned its citizens from converting yuan into other currencies for overseas property purchases.

And that has left many Chinese buyers in the lurch. After making payments for their Forest City properties, these mainland investors are now faced with the grim prospect that they cannot send money out of China to continue making payments or even get their money back, the South China Morning Post reported.  

On March 10, the Hong Kong daily also reported that Country Garden has closed all sales centres in mainland China for its Forest City Malaysian housing project amid Beijing’s intensified crackdown on capital flight.



Kerjaya Prospek gets RM31.6 mil housing development contract in Penang

KUALA LUMPUR (March 31): Kerjaya Prospek Group Bhd has bagged a contract worth RM31.6 million to develop 32 three-storey terrace houses in Penang, the company announced today.

Kerjaya Prospek’s subsidiary Kerjaya Prospek (M) Sdn Bhd received today the letter of award from Bina BMK Sdn Bhd for the project — located in Bandar Tanjung Pinang (Phase 1), north-east of the island.

The group said works will commence on March 22, and is due to be completed by Sept 21 next year. The project will contribute to the company’s books for its financial year ending 2017 (FY2017) and FY2018, it added.

Shares of Kerjaya Prospek closed 1.13% or 3 sen lower today at RM2.62, giving it a market capitalisation of RM1.34 billion. —

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A closer look at an uncontested winner among Singapore’s developers

SINGAPORE (March 31): CIMB Research is reiterating its “add” recommendation on property developer UOL Group, which remains the research house’s top pick among Singapore developers with an unchanged target price of S$7.96 (RM25.21).

In a Thursday report, analysts Lock Mun Yee and Yeo Zhi Bin say they continue to like UOL for its diversified business model and strong recurrent cashflow, and say that any volatility in the group’s earnings will present an opportunity for stock entry.

They also expect recurrent income from rental, hotel operations and dividend income to continue providing the group a stable income base.

“UOL has one of the highest recurrent income bases amongst peers, accounting for c.86% of total PBIT (incl. 44.6% share of UIC’s contributions), backed by an attributable 3.4 million sf of commercial/retail space in Singapore and more than 10,000 owned and managed hotel rooms,” explain the analysts.

“Despite short term challenges in the office and retail sectors, it has fairly high portfolio occupancy due to the niche locations of its properties, within the Newton/Novena area. In the longer run, it may potentially monetise mature office assets,” they add.

Lock and Yeo also note that since the launch of Clement Canopy in early march, the group’s new condominium development has enjoyed a good take-up rate with about 52% of the project sold to-date. This is in addition other ongoing projects, which they observe are benefiting from improved market sentiment with increased sales rate.

“Apart from three remaining projects with an effective share of 700 units, UOL will continue to tap the government land sale and enbloc markets to restock inventory,” say Lock and Yeo.

UOL’s recent capital redeployment into completed assets such as their recently-purchased Hilton Melbourne South Wharf, to be rebranded into a Pan Pacific Property, is set to deepen the group’s earnings base and brand awareness in Australia, in UOB’s view.

The analysts also highlight that the group’s gearing of 0.24x as at 4Q16 provides significant headroom for medium-term expansion possibilities.

Presently, UOL’s stake in United Industrial Corporation (UIC) stands at 49.6612% – and whether the group eventually crosses the 50% shareholding in UIC, or not, is key to determining a clearer look-through valuation of the group’s underlying assets, and narrow its gap to RNAV, say Lock and Yeo.

As at 2.35pm, shares of UOL are trading 1 Singapore cent lower at S$6.99. —

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Penang undersea tunnel feasibility studies 87% complete, says Guan Eng

Lim Guan Eng

KUALA LUMPUR (March 31): Feasibility studies for the proposed RM4 billion Penang undersea tunnel are 87% complete, said Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng. (pictured)

He said the remaining 13% of the studies will be carried out upon receipt of a development master plan from Rayston Consortium (Butterworth) Sdn Bhd, which had signed an agreement with the Barisan Nasional state government in 1999 to reclaim 650ha of the sea in Butterworth.

Speaking at a press conference, Lim said the undersea tunnel, part of the RM6.3 billion integrated infrastructure project awarded to Consortium Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd, needs to be built by 2027 and therefore there was still time.

He was responding to Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof’s statement yesterday, expressing concern over the delay in the tunnel studies which the state had promised to submit by early 2017.

Lim said Rayston is currently working on the master plan detailing the projects planned on the reclaimed land. 

“We are trying to pressure them (to speed up),” he said. “We have to honour the contract signed (with Rayston) but we stress that this will not interfere with the completion date of the tunnel project, which is 2027. We still have time,” he added.

Fadillah, in his statement, also claimed that the cost of the feasibility studies and detailed design for the Penang integrated infrastructure project at RM305 million was excessive and beyond the usual cost guidelines for construction projects of that nature.

Responding to this, Lim insisted that the RM305 million cost was in line with Public Works Department (JKR)’s costing and in fact 5.5% below the authority’s scale.

On a proposal by the state to replace the undersea tunnel project with a bridge, which was highlighted by Fadillah, Lim said the state had come out with the proposal to overcome the delay in the feasibility studies caused by the Butterworth reclamation work.

Lim said normally approvals in principle are given first for such bridge projects because detailed designs are costly, and that was why the Penang government had sought approval without submitting supporting documents.

“We must agree in principle, then follow up with supporting documents,” he added. —

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Sime Darby Property creating a modern skyline in the eastern part of KL


KL East

BEING able to wake up to fresh air and lush forest views every morning and then going to work using the LRT just a few minutes away sounds far from reality in Malaysia’s capital city of Kuala Lumpur.

However, at Sime Darby Property’s KL East, a 153-acre fully integrated residential, lifestyle and commercial enclave in the eastern part of KL, one could possibly have the opportunity to enjoy living in a green environment with great accessibility. KL East stands out in the area with its grand backdrop of the world’s longest quartz ridge.

With nature and greenery in mind, it is the only development in KL city with a facility dedicated to rainforest regeneration and the promotion of sustainable living — with more than 50% of the development dedicated to green open spaces.

KL East is also known as an integrated transit adjacent development (TAD) due to its proximity to the Gombak Integrated Transport Terminal (GITT) comprising the Gombak Light Railway Transit (LRT) station (on the Kelana Jaya LRT line), Rapid KL and taxi hub, as well as a bus terminal for buses to Genting Highlands, all within easy reach via a proposed 800m covered pedestrian walkway. It is located just 15 minutes away from KLCC, and five minutes to the Gombak and Sri Rampai LRT stations.

Set for completion this September at KL East is The Véo, the first residential high-rise in the township. It comprises 30-storey twin towers housing 175 condominium units each. The units are made up of studios, 3-bedroom units, dual-key units and duplexes, ranging from 735 sq ft to 3,638 sq ft.

Tower B of The Véo was launched in November 2012 whereas Tower A was launched in May 2013. There are only 52 units left for sale to date. The price psf of The Véo ranges from RM680 to RM750.

“The target segment for The Véo is professionals, managers, executives and businessmen between the ages of 30 and 40 who want a modern, urban lifestyle,” says the head of township of KL East for Sime Darby Property, Mohd Shahreza Maswan.

Each unit offers spacious open-plan living spaces with unique ultra-sized balconies spanning the unit’s full width. “This is an exclusive design feature of The Véo,” adds Mohd Shahreza. In fact, most of the Tower B units of The Véo accord views of the greenery and hills.

Facilities at The Véo include a 3-tier security system, a community sky garden on each tower, gym, clubhouse, wading and infinity pools, children’s playground and a multipurpose hall.

The Véo itself is well-connected to various highways such as the Ampang-KL Elevated Highway, Duta-Hulu Klang Expressway, Middle Ring Road 2 and Karak Expressway. KL East will also benefit from the upcoming Setiawangsa-Pantai Expressway which has a direct link to the Tun Razak Exchange and Bandar Malaysia development corridor, offers Mohd Shahreza.

Parents with school-going children can opt for the reputable Kolej Yayasan Saad International School which is targeted to open in early 2019.

Homes above a mall


Last year, Sime Darby Property introduced a new project at KL East known as Quarza Residence. The integrated development features two towers of serviced apartments with a total of 508 units.

“Each tower houses 254 units of serviced apartments, with a mix of 1-bedroom units with a built-up size of 651 sq ft and 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom units from 850 sq ft to 865 sq ft.

“Facilities at Quarza Residence include a sophisticated sky garden, wading, family and lap pools, an aqua gym, futsal court, BBQ pavilion, multipurpose hall and children’s playground,” Mohd Shahreza says.

Quarza Residence sits atop an upcoming mall which will occupy the lower four levels. Slated for opening in November next year, 30% of the retail space has already been taken up, as at February this year.

Planned to house a myriad of renowned retail brands, food and beverage outlets, as well as a supermarket, cinema, and an ice rink, the lifestyle speciality neighbourhood mall will be a catalyst for business activities in the area while offering retail convenience to its residents, he adds.

Tower A was launched in May 2016 and is currently 52% taken up.

“We will also be launching Tower B of Quarza Residence comprising another 254 units by next year with prices ranging from RM576,888 to RM836,888,” offers Mohd Shahreza.

Old rubber plantation shines on

Located near to KL East is Sime Darby’s other township, Melawati. According to Mohd Shahreza, some forty years ago in the mid-seventies, a rubber plantation in Ulu Kelang known as Hawthornton Estate was developed into Taman Melawati — a residential estate targeting the growing middle-income group.

Coming up in the area is Melawati Mall, a 10-storey shopping and lifestyle centre which will offer 635,000 sq ft of premier brands, themed food and beverage outlets, specialty shops, a cineplex as well as leisure and entertainment outlets. The mall is jointly developed by Sime Darby Property and CapitaMalls Asia.

There is also the much-anticipated Melawati Corporate Centre featuring flexible office and choice retail spaces. “Both the mall and the offices are targeted for completion in June this year,” Mohd Shahreza says.

“The future is exciting for Melawati. The 900-acre township is located less than 15km from KLCC. Melawati is in the middle of an urban redevelopment initiative with the area earmarked for residential, commercial, retail and lifestyle developments,” he adds.

Sime Darby Property is also developing SERINI Melawati, the latest and tallest high-rise residential offering featuring two 38-storey lifestyle towers with arguably the best views in Melawati, located less than 1km from Melawati Mall.

Both towers offer a total of 528 units comprising four types of layouts. These 1+1, 2, 3 and 4+1 bedroom serviced apartments come in built-ups ranging from about 630 sq ft to 1,500 sq ft. Facilities in SERINI Melawati include a gym, open roof yoga area, infinity swimming pool, playground, spice garden, function rooms and barbecue area.

“SERINI Melawati is located close to the brand new Central Park Melawati, an extension of the green spaces within the development. The park boasts immaculately designed green spaces, water features and activity centres among the stylish commercial and retail-scape of the township’s urban centre.

“Adjacent to SERINI is the Melawati service cluster that will house the new Melawati police station. There are also banks, supermarkets, hypermarkets, a post office, petrol station, food outlets and healthcare facilities within the Melawati area,” Mohd Shahreza explains.

How does the area fare?

According to Laurelcap Sdn Bhd executive director Stanley Toh, Melawati is an established mixed commercial and residential development located within Klang Gates about 13km north east of KLCC comprising mainly terraced houses, semi-detached houses, bungalows and apartments/condominiums.

“The prices of high-rises for the newer projects are between RM600 and RM700 psf while the existing older apartments are between RM300 and RM400 psf. What is favourable about the area is that it has good road access via the Middle Ring Road 2 with amenities such as schools, shops and public transportation readily available, and the scenic and serene area bordering the Klang Gate Quartz Ridge” says Toh.

According to Toh, the property market here is currently flat due to the general market slowdown but in the longer term, outlook looks bright as land gets scarcer in KL.

Quarza Residence

This story first appeared in the Special Report on High-Rise Living in pullout on March 31, 2017. Download pullout here for free.


Paramount to bring landed living quality to multi-storey projects



STEPPING into the scene as a township developer in the northern region some 40 years ago, Paramount Property, the property development arm of Paramount Corp Bhd, has since become a developer that offers a broad spectrum of products.

“As cities mature and population increases, landbank becomes scarce and expensive, leading to the growth of and demand for high-rise developments. As the people’s developer, it is natural for Paramount to meet this need by expanding into this type of developments,” Paramount Corp’s group chief executive officer Jeffrey Chew tells

Paramount’s current portfolio ratio of products is about 66% landed and 33% high-rise properties, including its commercial developments. But Chew expects its property business core to gradually shift to 30% landed residential and 70% commercial.

“Over time, we cannot go too extreme towards either end (landed or non-landed). We will try to make sure there is a minimum of 30% landed residential, while the remaining 70% will be commercial, which could be landed, multi-storey or high-rise, to cater to the demand from different buyers,” says Chew.

New launches this year

This year, Paramount will be launching properties totalling RM650 million in gross development value (GDV) where 46% of the total GDV will be integrated high-rise developments, 36% landed residential and 18% landed commercial developments.

Among the planned new launches are Sekitar 26 Enterprise @ Shah Alam (community retail centre); Atwater @ Section 13, Petaling Jaya (senior living concept mixed development); a new phase of Sejati Residences @ Cyberjaya (luxury landed property); a new phase of Greenwoods @ Salak Perdana (affordable landed property); a new phase of Utropolis Glenmarie (condominium block); a new phase of Utropolis Batu Kawan (condominium block); and a new phase of Bukit Banyan @ Sungai Petani (landed residential).

Utropolis Glenmarie

Utropolis Glenmarie is Paramount’s first integrated development and it marked the first time it combined its property development and education businesses together in one location.

“We are proud of this project and hope to duplicate its success at Utropolis Batu Kawan,” Chew enthuses, referring to their project on Penang mainland.

Modelled as a university metropolis, the 21.7-acre Utropolis Glenmarie is a self-contained, self-sustaining integrated development. It is anchored by KDU University College, Paramount’s flagship campus complemented by 1,484 serviced apartment units, retail, hotel and office components. It has a GDV of RM888 million.

The first phase of the serviced apartments has been completed and delivered by end-2015, while Phase 2A will be delivered in 3Q2017.

“We will be launching the hotel component as well as the final phase of the residential block by the second half of this year. There will be 389 serviced apartment units with slightly smaller built-ups than the previous phases to make the absolute prices even more affordable. We will price them above RM600 psf,” Chew says, adding that built-ups for the last phase range from 720 sq ft to 1,045 sq ft.

Utropolis Glenamarie

Education city in Batu Kawan, Penang

Meanwhile, the developer also targets to launch the second phase of Utropolis Batu Kawan this year. The second phase will consist of serviced apartments, but details have yet to be confirmed.

The 44.3-acre Utropolis Batu Kawan development has a GDV of RM1.8 billion. Anchored by a new flagship campus for KDU Penang University College, it comprises residential, commercial, retail and hotel components.

“We have just launched our first project in the first phase comprising strata shops with serviced apartments above. Out of 612 apartment units, 502 have been taken up. We have also achieved 65% take-up for the shops. We are very pleased with the strong take-up, despite the soft property market,” Chew says.

He attributes the strong take-up to the future development potential of Batu Kawan which will soon see the opening of the first IKEA outlet in the northern region.

“IKEA is a very strong brand that has drawn buying interest, but it is not the only attraction. There is also Columbia Hospital, Design Village Mall, KDU campus, factories of multi-national corporations and many big property players who are developing the place as the third satellite city of Penang. Moreover, Batu Kawan is just off the second Penang Bridge, which is a very strategic location,” Chew explains.

He also attributes the strong take-up of high-rise developments to the changing trends in Penang mainland.

“Penang mainland is dominated by landed properties, which are relatively affordable compared with those on the island. However, we do not see difficulties in selling our high-rise projects there. Some of the locals here want some lifestyle and security features for their homes, which most of the existing landed properties do not provide,” Chew says.

Although he thinks high-rises will not likely replace demand for landed homes in Penang, it will serve as an alternative choice.

From landed to high-rise projects

For its high-rise residential projects, one of the developer’s design principles is space functionality and practicality.

“Because we come from a strong background in landed residential properties, we would also like to give a sense of space and volume to our high-rise customers. We never want our customers to compromise on their comfort, be it a landed or high-rise home,” Chew says.

“When we have to adjust the built-up, we make sure the density is not high, so residents will not feel crowded. For example, we cap the lift ratio to a maximum of 16 units sharing one lift. We do not want people to queue for lifts to get home. Going home should be as easy as parking your car at the door step, right?” he shares.

Paramount also understands the importance of privacy in high-rise living and hence it avoids long corridors and central lift lobbies.

Catering to senior active living

Moving forward, Chew foresees smaller units in urban areas and the concept of senior active living to be the trend.

“Look around Klang Valley. It is very difficult to get a sizeable land plot to do affordable landed property. With rapid urbanisation and as more households are formed, the smaller and more affordable high-rise units will continue to dominate the property market trend.

“Our senior population is growing. Very soon, Malaysia’s ageing population will account for 10% of the total population. I foresee senior active living concept in high-rise developments to be in demand in the near future,” he notes.

To cater to the trend, Paramount aims to launch its first senior active living concept high-rise development in Section 13, Petaling Jaya in July this year. Named Atwater, it is an integrated development comprising two blocks of senior-friendly residences, two blocks of office towers and retail shops.

“Our design theme for the residential block is senior-living friendly. It will have some special design features such as no-split flooring, large toilet entrances for wheelchair access, lower lift buttons and many more,” Chew offers.

With a 40-year reputation under its belt, Paramount has built a strong brand as a landed property developer. Now, it hopes to do the same with its non-landed properties.

This story first appeared in the Special Report on High-Rise Living in pullout on March 31, 2017. Download pullout here for free.


Setia stamps its mark in Klang with Trio

Trio 1

S P Setia Bhd’s mixed development known as the Trio by Setia will mark its debut in Klang, Selangor. The developer currently has 30 ongoing property projects across Malaysia and overseas but this would be its first in Klang.

The developer’s divisional general manager for niche developments Paul Soh Hee Pin says S P Setia is always on the move to expand its brand and presence in new locations with strong growth potential.

“Bukit Tinggi in Klang definitely has a lot of potential. It is a very vibrant area so I think to establish our brand here is very exciting for S P Setia.

“When we came across this piece of land, we saw that it was very accessible as it is just adjacent to Jalan Langat which is the main arterial road that runs through Klang town to Bukit Tinggi.

“There is also a separate secondary access at the back of the development so residents will also be able to access the development from the back. This dual accessibility is a very important factor to this development (as it could reduce traffic congestion),” he tells

Sitting on a 5.49-acre of freehold land, Trio by Setia has a gross development value (GDV) of RM571 million and will comprise 914 units of serviced apartments across three towers — hence its name — as well as 42 three-storey retail units.

As of now, over 50% of the first tower comprising 426 serviced apartment units have been booked ahead of an official launch on April 8. The built-up sizes of the units in the first tower range from 656 sq ft to 1,216 sq ft with prices from RM412,000.

Soh is confident that Trio by Setia will do well in the port city due to its strategic location in Bukti Tinggi. The project lies 2.5km away from AEON Bukit Tinggi Klang, 1.2km from Tesco Klang and 23.7km from Bandar Sunway. Other amenities in the vicinity include Hospital Besar Klang, Andalas Medical Centre, Hin Hua High School, SMK Convent and Regent International School.

Accessibility will soon be given a boost with a proposed Light Rail Transit 3 station nearby. Trio is currently accessible via the Shah Alam Expressway, North-South Expressway Central Link, Federal Highway and New Klang Valley Expressway.

“We are using this piece of land to build a mainly residential development with a complementary commercial component as this form of integrated development provides a more complete lifestyle proposition to residents as opposed to a purely residential development.

“The sub-commercial component faces the main road for better visibility and accessibility, plus it is physically separated from the serviced apartments for increased security but still near enough for residents,” he says.


According to Soh, the non-landed market in Bukit Tinggi is slightly different from other areas such as in Kuala Lumpur city centre. There are not many such high-rise living projects with full quality lifestyle facilities in the area. Trio has all that and yet able to offer units at prices that are affordable, he says.

Among the lifestyle facilities at Trio are a swimming pool, indoor games room, shaded pavilion, sunken deck, residents’ community garden, a gym and a multi-purpose hall.

The first phase [first tower] of Trio carries an affordable pricing that will be attractive for first-time homebuyers, Soh offers, adding that Trio by Setia is one of the participating projects for the developer’s 10:90 scheme whereby purchasers pay only 10% upon signing the Sale and Purchase Agreement and pay the balance 90% after the completion of the property.

Construction for Trio will commence in 2Q2017 with targeted delivery by 4Q2021.

With population growth and urbanisation, Soh believes high-rise residences will be the future of not only property developments but also the lifestyle trend for those who are already living or looking to live in cities.

“I think nowadays, people are already talking about vertical cities and as the population grows in urban areas and with more people migrating to cities, land for development in urban areas will be scarce. This means that developers don’t have much land for large-scale landed developments.

“So moving forward, in urbanised areas, it will be common for the younger generation to be living in mostly high-rises. [Moreover] some people may prefer high-rise living compared to landed homes in terms of security, safety and maintenance — because there are people who will carry out the maintenance for you,” he says.

S P Setia was incorporated in 1974 and has ongoing property projects across Malaysia and overseas including Vietnam, Australia, Singapore, China and the UK. As of December 2016, the developer has 5,218 acres of undeveloped landbank, with a GDV of RM76.48 billion.

Besides its award-winning townships such as Setia Alam and Setia Eco Park in Shah Alam, the developer also offers niche lifestyle high-rise residential projects. Among them are Setia Seraya in Presint 15, Putrajaya; Setia Sky Seputeh in Taman Seputeh, KL; Setia Sky 88 in Johor Bahru city centre; and Setia Sky Ville in Jelutong, Penang.

On the market outlook, Soh notes that although the market sentiment has not been as strong as a few years ago, “property products are still selling”.

“The market goes in a cycle and urbanisation is an ongoing thing. Property ownership is something that people will always need, it’s just that sometimes the demand may dip or rise.

“Property development is very location-specific and you cannot just take the previous development model and replicate it on a different location. Market trends are very active and quick so you need to be spot on to catch the trend for that particular area.

“So for us, we are bringing Bukit Tinggi to the next level by introducing the lifestyle of the city centre to this area. I believe such lifestyle living will progressively move towards the fringes of the Klang Valley,” he says.

Trio 2

This story first appeared in the Special Report on High-Rise Living in pullout on March 31, 2017. Download pullout here for free.