EXSIM Development Sdn Bhd head of planning and development (residential/commercial) Michael Yam strongly believes that high-rise living is a trend that will soon become a norm in the major cities of Malaysia.
“If you look at our city’s housing planning, there is no doubt that we are heading in that direction [high-rise living]. Most of the affordable housing in the city are vertical. I believe this is the way to go,” he says.
Nevertheless, he does not deny that high-rise housing is currently facing some challenges due to the property market downturn in the past two years, such as a slower take-up and lower occupancy rate.
“The high-rise residences are not the only ones that are affected. It is the overall property market due to factors that are out of our [developers’] control, such as the economic slowdown, the weakening of the currency and reduced foreign direct investment. We are a developer with high-rise developments as our core, so when we cannot change the environment, we change our strategy,” Yam notes.
Exsim started off as an industrial property developer in 2009. It then ventured into high-rise residential projects the following year which gradually became its staple. It will be handing over its fourth high-rise residential project, The Petalz Residences @ Old Klang Road in June this year.
Launched in 2013, The Petalz is a two-block freehold residential project. It has a total of 565 condo units with built-ups ranging from 895 sq ft to 1,256 sq ft. The launch price was from RM650 psf.
Some unique facilities of this development are a boxing ring, children’s enrichment centre, teppanyaki cuisine corner, wavy canal, indoor lawn area, Petalz canopy, sprint track and four pools.
“Location is our first consideration when planning a project and because we prioritise developing in prime areas, high-rise developments have become our bread and butter. As everyone knows, there are only pockets of land left in the city centre,” Yam shares, adding that all of Exsim’s high-rise projects are located in the Klang Valley.
He explains that Exsim has always held on to its strategy to “build the right product with the right pricing in the right location”, even during challenging times such as this.
“We still believe in our core strategy. However, we focus more on local buyers now. From our observation, local buyers still have pretty strong buying power, but they are very cautious in picking the right product and are price sensitive,” Yam says.
According to Yam, “being different” is often also one of the keys to a project’s success.
“We do not want to build another ordinary building that cannot shout out loud. We want to build something special and remarkable. We want our developments to be different like unique art pieces so that they will be appreciated. This is also the motivation that pushes us to continue to be creative and innovative,” he notes.
In its latest development, Ceylonz Suites @ Persiaran Raja Chulan, Exsim has come up with a studio office development that is akin to a SoHo (Small-office Home-office) development.
Ceylonz Suites features a full range of office facilities such as a conference room, meeting rooms, waiting lounge, open-air café and business lounge.
However, office facilities are not all it has to offer. The development is also equipped with leisure facilities, such as a sky pool, sports lounge, launderette, gourmet kitchen, sky gym, rooftop garden, pocket gardens and a sky barbecue pavilion.
“Living and working in the city, we all know how time consuming it is to get from one point to another just for one activity. By placing all these leisure facilities in Ceylonz Suites, we hope to provide our buyers and occupants with good work-life balance, conveniences and lifestyle elements. We are trying to fill a gap while differentiating our project from others,” Yam offers.
Unlike ordinary office units, each unit in Ceylonz Suites has its own washroom and pantry equipped with a kitchen stove and hob and cabinets.
Meanwhile, Michelle Siew, Exsim’s head of marketing and corporate communications, says the units are designed to cater to young entrepreneurs.
“Young entrepreneurs are more flexible with their time and space, hence we have put extra effort into the space planning of Ceylonz Suites’ units. We do not have any compartments in each unit except the washroom, so it provides flexibility in space usage like no other,” Siew explains. Not only can unit owners work but also relax here, she adds.
The single tower Ceylonz Suites houses 442 studio office units with two standard layouts of 384 sq ft and 411 sq ft, as well as a dual-key unit at 578 sq ft. The selling price starts from RM619,760.
Carrying a gross development value of RM352 million, the development was officially launched in October 2016 and some 45% of the units have been taken up as at March 2017.
Siew believes connectivity and convenience are two elements that should not be compromised when planning a sustainable high-rise building.
“Being car-free is also going to be a future trend, hence the location of a building is crucial for its sustainability. This is also why we are very [mindful] about the location of our projects and the surrounding amenities that complement the product,” Siew notes.
Located on Persiaran Raja Chulan right smack in Kuala Lumpur’s central business district, Ceylonz Suites is surrounded by corporate offices, shopping malls, hospitals, schools and colleges. A bus stop is within a short walking distance while Masjid Jamek LRT (light rail transit) station is about 10 minutes on foot.
Yam foresees high-rise living to be more popular considering the lifestyle facilities provided and better security. “There are also people who choose to live in a condo because it is easy to take care of,” he notes.
On the current market slowdown, Yam says: “I think the worst is over and the market is slowly picking up. However, I do not expect a V-shaped bounce back for high-rise residential projects or even the overall property market. It should be a slow but steady journey of recovery. I think it is a healthy correction from the previous property boom,” Yam notes.
Given the lethargic market, Yam says Exsim will be more cautious in making new development decisions.
“We are taking the strategy of launching one project at a time and being more detailed in doing market research,” he says.
Meanwhile, he reveals that Exsim will be launching Millerz Square, a mixed development comprising an office tower, serviced apartments and shoplots in Old Klang Road, this June.
“We have a couple of pockets of land in OUG and Jalan Yap Kwan Seng. We are also looking for more land and do not rule out the possibility of expanding beyond the Klang Valley and building more high-rises where there are good opportunities,” Yam concludes.
This story first appeared in the Special Report on High-Rise Living in TheEdgeProperty.com pullout on March 31, 2017. Download TheEdgeProperty.com pullout here for free.