CONSTRUCTION outfit Binastra Group's entry into property development happened quite by chance, says Datuk Seri Michael Tan, the group CEO and executive director of the company's property development and investment division. He was approached to help revive an abandoned project and he decided to take it on. The result is the 35-unit Seri Titiwangsa condominium in Kuala Lumpur that was completed in 2005.
Since then, Binastra has finished eight projects — including recently completed industrial projects [email protected] Industrial Park and Mega [email protected] Jelutong — with a total gross development value (GDV) of RM350 million. It also has five ongoing projects worth RM400 million that include Avenue 32 Phase 1 & 2 and The Park, both at Bukit Serdang, as well as Megah 18 at Bukit Jelutong.
For this year, the developer has lined up some RM1.1 billion worth of properties for launch. Binastra was set up in 1979 as sole proprietorship Binastra Construction by Michael's father Tan Nge. Today, Michael and his brother Jackson, who is joint group CEO and executive director, run the day-to-day operations of the company with the construction division managed by Jackson.
Some of the construction projects the company was involved in include Kenanga Wholesale City and Vivatel Kuala Lumpur hotel. The revenue contribution of the development and construction divisions is equal at the moment, although Michael says revenue from the former is growing.
Binastra has a modest landbank of 30 acres in various stages of development, but it is constantly on the lookout for new land and potential joint-venture projects in the Klang Valley, an area it is familiar with. Michael says Binastra does not limit itself to a particular type of development as it depends on the site it finds. "We will build according to what the land requires. We prefer quick turnaround projects as this also means lower holding costs.
"Currently, the construction of our development projects is done by us," he adds. "The benefits of being a contractor and developer at the same time are better control of the quality of the products and delivery time."
One of Binastra's new projects — to be launched in May — is Cybersquare in the town centre of Cyberjaya on Persiaran Apec. This RM513 million mixed-use development will feature small offices/home offices (SoHos), shopoffices and office blocks. Its 6.95-acre freehold site was acquired in 2012 for RM100 psf.
"We acquired the land through the help of real estate agents. The design includes a modern façade, spacious rooms and efficient use of space. The SoHos will be GBI [Green Building Index]-certified," says Michael. He reveals that the project was to initially feature about 60% office space and 40% SoHos, but that changed to 70% SoHos and the remaining for office space and shopoffices.
"Our market research revealed that there wasn't enough living space in the town centre of Cyberjaya, so we decided to change our product mix," says Michael,adding that due to the distance from their homes to their workplace in Cyberjaya, some people may prefer to stay in the town centre than make the long commute. "People who work long hours, for example in data centres, can buy the SoHos for use as weekday homes."
The SoHos will be housed in two towers — Apex Tower (37 storeys; 670 units) and Vertex Tower (38 storeys; 754 units). There are two unit types — 450 sq ft studios that come with one parking lot and 775 sq ft 1+1 bedroom units with two parking lots. The selling price starts at RM252,000.
The SoHo towers will feature a viewing deck with a multipurpose hall and a landscaped deck on the 7th floor with facilities like a gym, pool and youth room.Other amenities include function rooms, outdoor gazebos, a cafeteria, meditation garden and reflexology park. The project is expected to be completed in 2017.
The project's 21 shopoffices are called Fiesta. The 2 and 3-storey units measuring 22ft by 66ft will have built-ups of 2,658 and 5,179 sq ft respectively and are priced at RM1.6 million onwards.
The two 6-storey office blocks called Biro offer a total built-up of about 42,000 sq ft per block. The developer is looking to sell them en bloc. "Some companies may like to own their own office block that comes with naming rights. The office blocks have the best address as they front Persiaran Apec," Michael explains.
Cybersquare is easily accessed from the KL-Putrajaya Highway, the North-South Expressway, the New Klang Valley Expressway and Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong. It is about 20 minutes from KLCC, KLIA and Putrajaya. Amenities nearby include universities like Multimedia University,Limkokwing University College of Creative Technology, Cyber College of Medical Sciences as well as banks, F&B outlets and Hospital Putrajaya.
According to PA International Property Consultants (KL) Sdn Bhd's managing director Jerome Hong, Cyberjaya is a popular place to work and study, but not to live. The majority of those working in Cyberjaya do not live in the area. However, this is changing.
"No less than 10,200 stratified units, such as condos, serviced apartments and SoHos, are due to be completed in the next three to four years," says Hong.
"For the apartments and condos in Cyberjaya, yields range from 6% to 9%. This is due to the limited supply of residential units and the large student community, both local and foreign."
Binastra is preparing to launch two other projects in Kuala Lumpur — one in Cheras and another in Ulu Klang. In Cheras, a high-rise residential project called Green Residence is awaiting certain approvals, but according to Tan, if all goes well there should be minimal design changes. The project will sit on about 10 freehold acres of elevated land along the Grand Saga Highway that links Cheras and Kajang.
It is also just a short distance from proposed mass rapid transit station Stesen Taman Suntex. The high-rise units will either have views of KLCC or Cheras town, says Michael.
"We will work with the terrain and preserve the environment where we can," he says. "In this project, we will leave three acres plus a slope area untouched. We will also have a 2.28-acre facilities deck."
The proposed design features three towers — Block A (19 storeys; 178 units), Block B (26 storeys; 192 units) and Block C (30 storeys; 224 units). Built-ups will range from 1,100 to 2,200 sq ft and at this juncture, no price has been set yet. The project has an estimated GDV of RM550 million.
Michael highlights that the development will be next to a green lung. "This project is going for GBI certification and it will adopt green practices to ensure minimal impact on the environment and people's health."
The launch date depends on the approval status, but if all goes well, Michael hopes to launch the project by 4Q2013.
Although Cheras is not known for high-rises, Landserve Sdn Bhd's managing director Chen King Hoaw sees demand rising for this property type.
"As Cheras transforms itself with land and property prices rising and existing landed homes ageing over the next decade, we expect more of the population in Cheras to consider and eventually shift to condo living," he says.
"We see some modern condos being developed in the area. Such developments will change the landscape and may pave the way for more high-rises."
Binastra also plans to launch by the end of the year, and pending approval, is The [email protected] in Ulu Klang. This RM70 million, low-rise luxury condominium is low density with only 72 units to be launched in 4Q2013. It sits on 2.84 acres and features clubhouse facilities with a swimming pool, wading pool, sauna, gym and garden area.
"The built-up of the units is from 1,600 to 2,000 sq ft," Michael says. "This caters for upgraders and families looking for peaceful surroundings with limestone hills in the distance." The units have an indicative selling price of RM550 psf.
A significant project in the pipeline is luxury condominium Tinggian Titiwangsa, situated a short distance from the Titiwangsa recreational park in KL, says Tan. The plan is to have sky gardens and apartments of generous size in the 4.2-acre project, although the details are still being finalised.
This story first appeared in The Edge weekly edition of Apr 01-07, 2013.
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