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Luxurious garden living

March 30th, 2012 No comments

Renowned for its large scale gated and guarded development on the mainland, namely in Simpang Ampat, Bukit Mertajam and Butterworth, the reputable Tambun Indah Land Berhad continues with great strides to expand its distinctive garden-living concept.

With only limited units remaining, Pearl Garden with certificate of fitness (CF) to be obtained soon, offers purchasers a chance of a lifetime to own a landed property by paying only a minimum downpayment RM6,800 for the double-storey terrace house and RM8,800 for the double storey semi-detached.

Spreading over 726 acres of freehold land in Pearl City, Tasek Mutiara, the project’s strategic location within the vicinity of established amenities and easy accessibility to the Penang second link and North-South Expressway has attracted many home seekers from the island.

An equally notable gated development adjacent to Pearl Garden is the luxurious Pearl Villas featuring double-storey semi-detached homes with built-up ranging from 24ft x 43ft on a land size of 35ft x 76ft. The units are priced from RM488,000 with buyers paying only a RM5,000 down payment until completion.

With the escalation of property prices on the island, keen home seekers searching for spacious and affordable properties to accommodate their bigger sized families will be pleased with the launching of Pearl Indah III’s double storey semi-detached homes.

Boasting built-ups starting from 24 ft x 43 ft on a land size of 35 ft x 75 ft onwards, the homes are priced from RM448,000 and come with a fantastic home package that includes free legal fees on the S&P agreement, loan and stamp duty on transfer of the titles.

By paying only a minimum RM5,000 until Vacant Possession, many buyers from the island have signed up for these properties which offer them a huge savings of up to RM50,000.

Offering a similar home package is Pearl Indah’s double-storey terrace homes that are affordably priced from RM318,000 for a spacious land area of 22ft x 70ft.

Interested purchasers need only pay a RM1,000 down payment and a monthly instalment of RM500.

Over on the island is the latest project of Straits Garden in Jelutong. This high-rise development consisting studio and executive suites attracted a lot of local and foreign interest during the recent MAPEX 2012 property fair in Straits Quay.

Source: The Star

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Homely haven

March 30th, 2012 No comments

Reputable developer Asas Dunia Berhad has done it again in delivering an architectural wonder that is the envy of all with its prestigious Asas Murni development in Bukit Minyak, central Seberang Prai.

Comprising 40 exclusive units of two-and-a-half storey townhouses that have been completed with CF, this prestigious gated and guarded community features units with built-up areas ranging from 2,120sq ft. Only limited units of these freehold homes are still available and selling from RM380,000.

Every contemporary unit features five bedrooms with individual bathrooms, two spacious balconies and two living rooms.

A place that you would be proud to call home, the low density Asas Murni also stands out with its lush and beautiful landscaped gardens.

The project also prides itself on its optimum location that is within close proximity to the Bukit Minyak Industrial Estate, Penang Bridge and the bustling Bukit Mertajam town.

A name that is synonymous with quality, value and reliability, Asas Dunia needs no further introduction having carved its niche in Penang over the years with various stunning residential and commercial developments.

It has choice parcels of land extending from south Seberang Perai to central Seberang Perai namely in prime areas of Bukit Mertajam, Nibong Tebal, Jawi, Sungai Bakap and Simpang Ampat.

All the landed property sold also have unencumbered individual titles.

Thus one can buy with confidence knowing that his dream home would be completed ahead of time.

Asas Dunia has also taken the extra initiative to assist prospective home owners in the application of housing loans (at very attractive rates and terms) and EPF withdrawals.

Source: The Star

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Tropicana Ivory’s RM10bil Penang World City to feature diverse cultural components

March 24th, 2012 No comments

GEORGE TOWN: Tropicana Ivory Sdn Bhd’s (TISB) RM10bil Penang World City (PWC) project in Bayan Mutiara will have affordably priced high-rise units and a world culture’ component, featuring different cultural residential enclaves.

TISB is a joint-venture company in which Dijaya Corporation Bhd holds a 55% stake, while Ivory Properties Group Bhd the remaining 45%.

Ivory group chairman and chief executive officer Datuk Low Eng Hocksays about 15% of the properties for the 800 to 1,000 high-rise units for the first phase will be priced between RM300,000 and RM500,000, depending on the built-up area which ranged between 600 sq ft and 800 sq ft.

The first phase, to be located on a 10-acre site and scheduled for launch in the third quarter of 2012, will have a gross development value (GDV) of around RM600mil to RM700mil.

Subsequent phases for PWC will also see 15% of the properties priced in the affordable range of between RM300,000 and RM500,000, Low adds. Low said the group might consider using the plot ratio guidelines introduced in 2010 for the island to build medium-priced properties.

Under the revised guidelines of 2010, developers have to allocate 5% of the total units in a development scheme to be priced at RM200,000, 10% to be priced at RM300,000, and another 5% not exceeding RM500,000.

The affordable components were in the planning of the entire master plan as a value-added component from the very early stage, even during the tender exercise, according to Low.

“As we are planning for a world class city within World City, economies of scale is of the essence.

“In order for this to happen, we need a huge number of Penangites to call World City their home.

On the world culture’ component in PWC, Low says there will be residential enclaves where the properties will reflect the architectural and cultural themes of a particular country.

“For example, we will create Chinese, Korean, Middle Eastern and European villages in PWC, so that the properties can be marketed in that particular country through an appointed real estate agent.

“We want to create a world culture to attract tourism and foreign investors and to differentiate PWC from the other mega-development projects on the island.

“These parcels will be solely for en-bloc sales to expatriates,” he says.

On the impact of the global slowdown on PWC, Low says at present the group has not felt the impact of the global slowdown yet, at least not in the financial and real estate sectors.

“Our banks are well positioned and the central bank played a very proactive role to mitigate any possible impact or threat to our economy. The scale of foreign direct investments is very encouraging not only for Penang but for Malaysia as a whole,” he says, adding that the group does not foresee any slowdown in the next two to three years. “In fact, property prices in Penang are still very attractive and have yet to reach its peak. Many magazines, including those from Hong Kong, have been mentioning and promoting Penang as the ideal home destination.

“Investors from China, Japan and Korea, for instance, are very much interested in coming to Penang, particularly in the aftermath of the Japan earthquake and tsunami,” he notes.

Meanwhile, on Ivory’s plans for 2012, Low says the company is targeting to launch projects worth approximately RM1.4bil in GDV this year, including The Latitude in Mount Erskine, Penang Times Square phase three and phase four, City Mall and City Residence in Tanjung Tokong.

“The company is targeting to rake in sales of some RM800mil this year.

“Last year, we only booked RM121.8mil of sales for completed and on-going projects besides having unbilled sales of RM227mil to be realised over these two years. We are expecting higher sales this year since we have more projects to offer this time and not forgetting the much anticipated PWC project,” he adds.

Last July, Ivory won the right to purchase and develop the site in Bayan Mutiara after edging out four other parties, including SP Setia Bhd, which were bidding for the land. Ivory won the bid after offering the highest price to buy the land for RM240 per sq ft or RM1.072bil for the entire site, securing with it the right to develop on the existing 67.56-acre site and another 35 acres that will be reclaimed over the next three years.

To date, about RM22mil or 2% had been paid as earnest deposit for the land. The remaining downpayment of RM80mil will have to be paid on or before April 10. In the agreement with Dijaya Corporation Bhd, Ivory is the turnkey builder for PWC and will thus be entitled to 48% of the project’s gross revenue with the amount due to the company estimated at RM5bil.

Source: The Star

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Skyrocketing shophouses

March 21st, 2012 1 comment

THE cost of buying a pre-World War II shophouse in George Town, Penang, has reached RM2,000 per square foot — equivalent to the price of the poshest Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) condominium units.

An entrepreneur, who declined to be identified, has just paid RM4mil for a 2,000sq ft shophouse along Lebuh Pantai (Beach Street) in order to continue an existing business located on the premises which she had been renting.

Before 2008 — the year George Town was jointly listed with Malacca as Unesco World Heritage Sites — pre-war shophouses in Penang were generally going for about RM200,000 to RM800,000 depending on size and location.

In 2009, an unrestored shophouse of 10ft by 36ft in Lorong Chulia only cost RM150,000, but the asking price has since jumped to over RM300,000 of late.

Now, the asking price of even the smallest shophouse that spans only 11ft by 30ft in Lorong Toh Aka is already RM600,000.

Nearby, in Lorong Carnarvon, one unit of 17ft by 100ft has been sold for RM1.2mil, while Lebuh Amernian shophouses can fetch RM3mil each.

Heritage value

Contrary to the popular notion that foreigners and investors from Kuala Lumpur are pushing up prices of Penang heritage property, recent transactions show that Penang investors are the ones who are buying in a substantial way.

This is particularly true among those who have lived abroad and recognise the heritage value.

According to informed sources, one businessman from Bukit Mertajam recently snapped up RM20mil worth of pre-war property, including shophouses, in one day.

Even derelict property is now seeing interest. The defunct Nam Wah Hotel & Bar, located at a prime location in Lebuh Chulia, was sold for RM7mil last year. The property comprises double-shophouse units with a land area of 14,000sq ft.

Such shophouse properties are often turned into “heritage” hotels, charging an average of RM300 to RM400 per room per night.

Local entrepreneur Seah Kok Heng, 42, says he spent RM3mil in 2008 to acquire three derelict, triple-storey shophouses located at Rope Walk or Jalan Pintal Tali.

Then, he spent another RM10mil to restore and transform the adjoining units into the Chinese-themed 1881 Chong Tian Hotel, where certain suites sell for over RM2,000 a night.

Probably the best-known heritage projects are by Penang-born businessman Christopher Ong, who has lived in Australia, as well as in Sri Lanka, where he once operated an award-winning hotel.

Together with business partners, he now owns and operates Muntri Mews, a nine-room hotel, which was formerly a stable on Lebuh Muntri.

This street has some of the finest Straits Eclectic shophouse facades in George Town.

Ong, who is in his late 40s, is currently working on similar projects on Lorong Stewart and Lebuh Noordin, among other sites in George Town.

He also used to own a colonial-era double-storey detached house built located on Jalan Clove Hall.

It was recently sold for close to RM8mil to Penang-born Jim Lim Teik Wah.

Having lived in the UK for 40 years, Lim has returned to settle in George Town together with his English wife, Jo.

Another row of nine shophouses in Jalan Ariffin, just off Jalan Transfer, has been bought by a local lawyer for an undisclosed sum.

The units are being restored for another hotel project by the owner.

The Penaga Hotel project — which occupies Jalan Transfer, Jalan Hutton, and Lebuh Clarke — is another well-known development owned by veteran architect Hijjas Kasturi and his wife Angela, who reportedly spent RM50mil on it.

Obviously, such properties have also been bought by investors from Kuala Lumpur and from overseas.

Bought for RM2mil in 2008, Campbell House in Jalan Campbell is a 10-room hotel owned by Malaysian-born Nadya Wray and her Italian husband, Roberto Dreon.

Nadya’s mother’s great-granduncle was Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s first Prime Minister.

No. 23 Love Lane is another multi-million ringgit restoration project owned and funded by the art-loving wife of a former Cabinet Minister from KL, who declined to be named.

Nibong Tebal

While such buyers are tight-lipped, especially over the total costs of their acquisitions, lumber yard entrepreneur Gooi Kok Wah, 43, has no qualms about revealing the reasons for acquiring such properties.

The Nibong Tebal-based businessman has been eyeing and buying such shophouses since 2008, after the Unesco World Heritage Site listing.

Apparently, that declaration fuelled the interest of astute locals as well as “outsiders” including Swiss, French, Australian and Singaporean investors.

“Current prices for such properties in prime areas like Beach Street can command RM2,000 per square foot, and RM1,000 per square foot and above, for touristy areas such as Chulia Street, Love Lane, Muntri Street, Stewart Lane and certain heritage core zone sections.

“And even in less known areas like Prangin Lane, the asking price is at least RM400 per square foot,” explains Gooi, a former accountant.

To-date, Gooi has bought six pre-war shophouse properties.

His latest RM2mil purchase was for a two-storey shophouse at Lebuh Kimberley that spans 20ft by 200ft, with a built-up space of 6,000sq ft.

Heritage zone

He points out that George Town World Heritage Incorporated — an organisation under the State Government —listed only 3,800 units of pre-war shophouses in the heritage core and buffer zones on the island.

The core zone covers an irregular-shaped area of 109 hectares on the north-east section of the island city.

It is bounded by the sea on side and cocooned by the heritage buffer zone on the other side. The buffer zone covers 150 hectares.

The core zone is roughly hemmed by Pengkalan Weld, Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah, Lebuh Light, Lebuh Farquhar, Lorong Love, Lebuh Carnarvon, Lorong Carnarvon, Lebuh Melayu and Gat Lebuh Melayu.

And the buffer zone extends to part of the sea in front of Weld Quay and bounded by Jalan Prangin and Jalan Transfer. (Refer to www.penang-traveltips.com/george-town-unesco-world-heritage-site.htm)

“Such heritage property is in a classic supply-and-demand situation. The supply side is limited and cannot be increased in tandem with the increase in demand,” says Gooi.

“Furthermore, supply can and will be reduced, due to accidents like fire and vehicle mishaps.

“There are also cases of misguided re-development, with insensitive modifications or illegal alterations destroying the heritage value of such property, as well as neglect and natural deterioration.

“However, demand is always increasing due to business opportunities with the increasing number of tourist arrivals as a result of more low-cost flights from other countries.

“Also, the rising interest of heritage buffs from outside Penang who desire to own such a property will further fuel demand.”

City residence

Born in Nibong Tebal, Gooi has lived and worked in London, Glasgow and Jakarta as well as Kuala Lumpur, Klang and George Town, before deciding to relocate back to his hometown.

With his latest shophouse, the entrepreneur intends to restore the Kimberley Street property for his city residence.

As to the costs involved in restoring such shophouses, Gooi says there is “no limit on the expenditure for heritage-building restoration” .

“It depends on how fine you desire the quality to be,” says the father of three, “However, for ordinary or minimal-cost restoration work, it would cost about RM300,000 for a shophouse unit of 1,400sq ft.”

Asked if it would be wiser to invest the total costs of buying and restoring a shophouse in a newly developed landed property or condominium unit, Gooi says, “No, I would say, heritage houses can command a much higher rate of return compared to other types of property.”

High Court Case

One factor that contributed to the current high prices for pre-war shophouses in George Town can be traced to an incident at the High Court in Penang on Sept 29, 2010.

On that day, a property auction by CIMB Bank attracted an unusually large crowd of over 70 people. The highlight of the sale was an unrestored shophouse of 20ft by 125ft located on Armenian Street.

There were only five actual bidders including Gooi.

The reserve price was RM450,000 and furious bidding pushed the price up to an astonishing RM1.1mil, setting a new benchmark in Penang.

The eventual buyer was a veteran real estate consultant.

And that property is now reputed to be worth at least RM2.6mil, as it is, without any restoration.

Observes Gooi, “Penang heritage houses and their strategic location are a unique combination.

The value of pre-war shophouses still hasn’t been fully realised.

“One thing for sure, prices will continue to go up,” predicts Gooi, who is still on the prowl for such “heritage” property.

Think City

There have been efforts by the local authorities and Federal Government-backed bodies like Think City, a special-purpose vehicle established by Khazanah Nasional Bhd, to help enhance the heritage value of these old buildings.

These organisations aim to engage stakeholders to improve the environment by maintaining the right architectural features as well as improve cleanliness and the drainage system, encourage more greenery, build pedestrian walkways and offer tourism attractions.

·Log on to www.starproperty.my for more on hot properties

WHILE new buyers of Penang’s pre-war shophouses wax lyrical over the romantic notion of restoring and staying in a “heritage” home, those who grew up in such houses, don’t fancy living in one again.

Tune Hotels strategic developments director Anwar Jumabhoy, from the well-known Indian Muslim Jumabhoy family in Penang, recalls less than romantic memories of living in an old shophouse.

“Yes, I do remember living in Jalan Greenhall, Penang, just off Lebuh Light,” says Anwar, who is in his 50s.

He is bemused that new buyers are willing to pay so much money to restore such shophouses and even want to live in them.

“In those days, we were one of the few houses with a toilet inside and I used to watch in amazement at the ‘night soil’ trucks that used to come in the morning, and kids — without toilets — had to do their ‘business’ in the street.

“My parents’ office was downstairs and we lived upstairs and learnt how to be well-behaved children — you had to, as the floor was wooden, so too much running around meant a lot of noise for those in the office.”

To the jetsetting corporate executive, a terraced house in those days meant, no windows except for the master bedroom.

And the courtyard or air well was where the toilets and kitchen were located — at the back of the house.

For a young child, going to the toilet at night was a scary experience especially through dimly-lit and long corridors.

“Now, would I consider living there again? Not really, wooden floors, rickety stairs and a very, ‘nice’ attic,” says Anwar.

“With options available today for modern comfort, the nostalgic experience might be nice for a couple of days, no more.

“For a more permanent home or hotel accommodation, I would much rather have a room with lots of windows and a view.”

A Chinese owner of a new double-storey, linked-house in the upscale neighbourhood of Seri Tanjung Pinang, who declines to be named, says she doesn’t ever want to go back living in an old shophouse.

She grew up on Lebuh Kimberley.

“Why would I ever want to live in such a home again? There’s not much privacy especially when you have a big family,” says the mother of a teenage girl.

While there are those who don’t have fond memories of living in rickety, old shophouses, a new generation of owners can’t wait to occupy their expensively restored heritage properties. — By Johnni Wong

Source: The Star

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All abuzz over second bridge

March 16th, 2012 No comments

With  the hum and buzz of Free Industrial Zone factories on one side and sights of the Penang Channel on the other, driving on the southern end of the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway on Penang Island has always been scenic.

But over the last year, more interesting things have been happening.

Near the very end of the expressway in Batu Maung, concrete piers have been emerging in the sea, marking the foundation work for the Second Penang Bridge.

The 292nd and last pier was cast just last Saturday, paving the way for the 24km superstructure to follow suit.

With the completion date for the bridge now expected to be two months ahead of the September 2013 target, excitement is growing on the ground.

General worker Mohd Tarmizi Yazid, 38, said journeys to and from the mainland would be much easier, especially for lorries and cargo freights.

“Things will be so much faster with a bridge on this side (of the island).

“Lorries and cargo vehicles have limited hours to use the first bridge and it has become very congested,” said Tarmizi.

The father of three, whose family has lived in Permatang Damar Laut, Bayan Lepas, for generations, said the price of land was also rising in the south of the island.

“With the bridge, more public facilities are sure to follow and I’ve heard that the price of our land is going up,” said Tarmizi.

Commuters from the mainland are also counting the days until the new link opens.

Penang Seagate Industries (M) Sdn Bhd manufacturing senior engineer Tan Soo Min said the second bridge could not open soon enough for her.

“If the second bridge wasn’t being built, I would sell my house in Simpang Ampat and buy a small apartment on the island.

“I’m so tired of the traffic jams on the current bridge,” said Tan, 31.

She said that currently, the 33km journey from her house to Penang Seagate via the first bridge takes her 50 minutes in the mornings, while return journeys after work take about one-and-a-half hours.

She said even though her journey to work using the second link would be slightly lon-

ger than if she used the first bridge, she would take the new bridge as long as the trip was faster.

Tan’s co-worker P. Maran, 47, said the second bridge would provide an alternative for commuters.

“I’m excited as there are now two options for people.

“I’ve had many experiences with the first bridge with events putting traffic at a standstill.

“For example, when there was a bomb scare there a few years ago, I had to leave my car overnight in Bayview Hotel Georgetown and take a taxi to the ferry to get home,” said Maran, a production manager who has commuted from Bukit Minyak on the mainland to the island for 18 years.

He said he hoped a good access road would be built to the second link to ensure there were no jams leading up to the new bridge.

Aside from those eager to make use of the Second Penang Bridge, commuters who are nearer the first bridge are also all smiles.

Driver Nasir Udin’s hope is that with the new link, the traffic on the old bridge will be considerably smoother.

“I hope there will be less congestion on the first bridge.

“Now it takes me about 40 minutes by mo-torcycle to reach Batu Maung from Permatang Tok Jaya,” said Nasir, 44.

Fisheries Development Authority Board (LKIM) assistant accountant Manjawati Sam-suddin, 36, said she would use the second link if she heard of any accidents happening on the first bridge.

“Once an accident happens, no matter how minor, semua habis (things are finished). You can be stuck on the bridge for an hour,” she said.

Manjawati, who makes the 112km-round trip journey to Penang island from Sungai Petani every day, added that she hoped the second link, like the first bridge, would offer a reduced toll of RM5.60 (from RM7) for frequent travellers.

Source: The Star

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