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 TheEdgeProperty.com.
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 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.
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 TheEdgeProperty.com pullout on March 31, 2017. Download TheEdgeProperty.com pullout here for free.