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Cheras Selatan comes into its own

When an established area expands its boundaries rapidly, it is inevitable that certain parts of it seek an identity of their own. This rings true of Cheras, a massive mixed development that straddles Kuala Lumpur and parts of Selangor.

City folks living in Cheras and the surrounding residential estates would have noticed that property development in the area has, in recent years, moved southwards towards Balakong in Selangor. Somehow, and without official sanction, this part of Cheras has become known as Cheras Selatan or South Cheras.

It is difficult to say where the borders of Cheras Selatan are, especially since its name is not recognised by the land office, but Cheras Selatan seems to mainly cover the Selangor side of Cheras. Ho Chin Soon, director of Ho Chin Soon Research Sdn Bhd, tells City & Country that residential developments like Bandar Tun Hussein Onn, Cheras Perdana, Puncak Perdana and Taman Cheras Jaya can be deemed to be under Cheras Selatan.

City & Country recently explored the area, which comprises mostly freehold land. A resident in Bandar Tun Hussein Onn says although the official mailing addresses here do not carry the name Cheras Selatan, the residents consider their township to be a part of Cheras Selatan.

The Jusco connection
It is believed that the name Cheras Selatan came about when AEON Co (M) Bhd named its new branch, located on a 113,451 sq ft former Boy Scout camp site in Balakong, as Jusco Cheras Selatan back in end-2006. This is about two minutes' drive from Bandar Tun Hussein Onn.

Jusco Cheras Selatan, with a net lettable area of 36,000 sq ft, opened its doors in December 2006. The Jusco department store occupies about half the space while the shopping mall's 95 retail units are mainly occupied by businesses involved in food and beverage (F&B), fashion, IT services and speciality and furniture products. It attracts some 480,000 visitors annually.

When contacted, the management of AEON Co says it came up with the name Jusco Cheras Selatan instead of Jusco Balakong because the former sounded more commercial than the latter. The company has received approval from the Kajang Municipal Council (MPKj) to use the name, it adds.

The Jusco site was acquired in 2004, coinciding with the opening of Lebuhraya Sistem Lingkaran Kajang (SILK Highway), says VPC Alliance (KL) Sdn Bhd's managing director James Wong. AEON Co also purchased the terraced factories fronting the highway to ensure that nothing blocked the view of the mall from the SILK Highway. It demolished the factories and turned the area into a parking lot.

Wong says Jusco Cheras Selatan became popular with the residents nearby, especially after the completion of the Balakong stretch of the SILK Highway, owing to its central location and easy access to the highway.
"This stretch of the SILK Highway was part of the Balakong road, which links Seri Kembangan (Mines Resort City) in the west to Cheras 11 MP in the east. The stretch is also linked to the North-South Expressway in the west and the Grand Saga/Cheras-Kajang Highway in the east," he adds.

Carrefour Malaysia is also coming to Cheras Selatan. The construction of the 2-storey hypemarket in Bandar Tun Hussein Onn began in January and is expected to be completed next month.

Next to the Carrefour site is a newly completed 3-storey shopoffice project called Town Park 1 by UDA Holdings Bhd, the master developer of Bandar Tun Hussein Onn. Town Park 1 has 54 units - 24ft by 80ft - that cost RM800,000 onwards when launched in 2007. They were all sold.

"Although there were no recent transactions, we were informed by the developer that the owners are now asking for RM1.2 million. Although the certificate of fitness has been issued, the take-up rate of the shopoffices in Town Park 1 is still slow, but is expected to pick up by end-2009 when the Carrefour hypermarket is completed," says Wong.

He points out that the prices of other shopoffices in Bandar Tun Hussein Onn are generally stable. For example, 3-storey shopoffices on Jalan Suadamai 1/2 were transacted in 2007 at RM750,000. They still cost the same.

Located opposite the mall on Jalan Suakasi are an Econsave (a cash and carry outlet) and a furniture gallery. Across the SILK Highway in Taman Cheras Jaya, there is a Giant hypermarket that occupies more than 10 shopoffice lots.


Commercial transformation
According to Wong, what was once predominantly an industrial area is fast taking on a commercial face as the area is seeing a number of such developments, the catalyst for which is Jusco Cheras Selatan. He estimates the population in the area to be more than 100,000.

He also expects more high-density residential projects here due to the absence of large tracts. He says there are still prospects for modern shopoffice developments in the area.

Coming up just behind the Jusco mall is a 2-storey shopoffice development called J-Avenue by Tanjung Balai Development Sdn Bhd (TJB). Wong says Jusco Cheras Selatan has benefitted the three-acre development. The developer sold all the 40 units that were launched a year ago, priced from RM738,000. The current asking price for these units is RM1 million, according to Wong.

TJB's business development manager Kimmy Yap says the units will be completed by the end of the year. The developer also has a piece of land in front of the mall, on which it plans to build a 3-storey retail complex with a basement car park.

"The built-up will be about 150,000 sq ft and we will retain the complex for recurring income. We have obtained the development order, but we will start construction only when more developments in the area are up," Yap says.

Other ongoing developments in the area include a mixed development by Mitraland Group called C180 and a private hospital, all in the vicinity of Jusco Cheras Selatan.

See Kok Loong, director of Metro Homes Sdn Bhd, tells City & Country that Cheras Selatan has "a lot of potential" for commercial development as the population base is already there.

However, it lacks good shopping and commercial properties. "It lacks a landmark commercial centre at the present time and most residents will either spend their leisure and shopping hours at Leisure Mall, Taman Segar in Cheras or at Mines Shopping Fair in Seri Kembangan," See explains.

He reckons that developments such as C180 will enhance the status of the area as a retail and commercial centre, becoming another landmark in Cheras Selatan.


Mitraland
Located on 18 acres of freehold industrial land, the RM300 million C180 is a joint venture between Mitraland and the landowner. It is located opposite Jusco Cheras Selatan on Jalan Cheras Perdana. Within a 10-minute drive of the site are housing estates with a population of over 200,000.

The first phase of C180 - The Longitude - was launched last April and has been sold to those mainly from Petaling Jaya, Cheras and the neighbouring areas. Phase 1 comprises 41 units of 3 and 4-storey shopoffices. Standard intermediate units of 22ft by 75ft were sold from RM1.28 million or RM290 psf.

Phase Two will comprise The Gateway, The Pulse and The Centerstage, which are scheduled for launch in October. The Gateway, which is positioned as a wellness sanctuary, is a 4-storey building with the lower two floors for retail and the upper two for office use. The Pulse is a 3-storey retail block with units on the ground floor dedicated to F&B.

The units in The Gateway and The Pulse will be sold but those in The Centerstage, a 60,000 sq ft, 2-storey entertainment building, will be retained for recurring income. Units on the ground floor will be reserved for F&B, Mitraland's marketing manager Eddie Wong tells City & Country.

He adds that there will be two anchor tenants on the first floor - a family entertainment centre and a 20,000 sq ft fitness centre. There will also be a children's recreational park on the rooftop.

Mitraland will then launch the two components under Phase 3 - The Latitude and The Nest - by early next year. Corporate office component The Latitude may be sold en bloc. The Nest consists of a business hotel and a block of serviced apartments. The last phase may be a 6-storey block of showrooms or corporate offices.

The developer cannot reveal immediately the indicative prices for its second and third phases as their plans have not been finalised, Eddie says. The whole development is expected to be completed in six years.

In Taman Cheras Utama, a neighbour of Bandar Tun Hussein Onn, Mitraland completed a RM57 million project called [email protected] in April. Developed on a 9.3-acre freehold tract, all 121 units of 2½-storey and 3-storey terraced houses in the gated and guarded community (built-ups: 2,769 to 3,018 sq ft) have been sold. The units were launched at RM418,800 each in April 2007 and now transact at about RM520,000 on the secondary market, says Eddie.


Bandar Tun Hussein Onn
Stretching over 752 acres, the freehold Bandar Tun Hussein Onn is the largest housing development in Cheras Selatan and is home to 18,000 residents. Developed by UDA Holdings Bhd, some 4,269 homes have been built and sold here. Only 24% of the area remains undeveloped. Upon completion, Bandar Tun Hussein Onn will comprise 6,000 residential units and boast a total population of 35,000.

The area is expected to see more developments in Lake Valley, a 189-acre residential precinct identified as a development model to change the perception of Bandar Tun Hussein Onn as a middle-income group housing area.

The developer plans to launch eight projects in Lake Valley Avenue and Lake Valley Town Park from this year until 2011. These projects will see the completion of 537 townhouses, bungalows, semidees, condominiums and 2-storey terraced houses (see table on previous page. The developer sold 10.05 acres to Carrefour Malaysia for RM37.29 million last year to build a hypermarket as the township needed a catalyst for growth.

Metro Homes' See says the prices of houses in Bandar Tun Hussein Onn have been stable over the last three years, with transactions at RM270,000 to RM300,000 for 22ft by 70ft units (built-up: about 1,600 sq ft).

"The prices of shopoffices in Bandar Tun Hussein Onn are also stable. For example, 3-storey shopoffices on Jalan Suadamai 1/2 were transacted in 2007 at RM750,000 and remain at those prices."

See adds that the attractiveness of Bandar Tun Hussein Onn as a township will be improved when access and road connectivity to the west (Bandar Damai Perdana and beyond) and north (Taman Bahagia, Taman Minang, Taman Bukit Anggerik) are better.

He says both Cheras Perdana and Puncak Perdana are old areas that were developed more than 10 years ago by different developers. New developments in the three areas comprise mainly apartments, terraced houses and bungalows.

There is an ongoing project in Taman Cheras Jaya - Venture Heights South Cheras - developed by Bangsar Heights-MKL Sdn Bhd. Launched in May 2008 at RM398,000 each unit, the project comprises 124 three-storey link houses with a built-up of 2,508 sq ft.

Houses in the freehold gated and guarded development, which was built on a 10-acre piece of land, are currently selling at RM438,000 each.


Easy accessibility
Cheras Selatan is accessible via the SILK Highway as well as Lebuhraya Cheras-Kajang. Access via the SILK Highway cuts through Sungai Besi and Balakong. Lebuhraya Cheras-Kajang joins Cheras Utara to Cheras Selatan and will make the drive into the city much shorter after upgrading works.

Public transport facilities in the area will get a major boost with the construction of the proposed LRT line from Kota Damansara to Cheras, which is expected to pass through Bandar Tun Hussein Onn and Jusco Cheras Selatan.

For now, developments in Cheras Selatan may not be as extensive as in Cheras Utara, where major property projects are being undertaken. However, with more commercial developments expected, Cheras Selatan may soon catch up with its sibling.

This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 768, Aug 17-23, 2009.

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