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City & Country: Mitrajaya’s transit-oriented plays

VALUE is relative. What you give up today could be a treasure for tomorrow, as with the story of Wangsa 9 Residency in Wangsa Maju.

The 7.8-acre Wangsa 9 is a development by Mitrajaya Holdings Bhd. According to managing director Tan Eng Piow, the company acquired the land as part of a contra agreement nearly two decades ago.

“Mitrajaya was a construction company back in the 1990s and embarked on a project for a hotel developer in Langkawi. The owners paid us in kind with this piece of land,” he says. He declines to reveal the identity of the developer.

Tan says the price of the land at the time was RM60-RM70 psf. Today, land in Wangsa Maju can fetch close to RM300 psf.

Patience and timing paid off for Mitrajaya, which chose to hold onto the land until an opportune time. Tan says that the company was unaware that there would be a light rail transit (LRT) station nearby.

“The only development in the area then was a Carrefour store, which is now an AEON Big. We have been holding this piece of land for a long time. We decided to develop it because it became feasible to do so in the last couple of years,” he says.

However, Mitrajaya still needed to invest to prepare the land for residential development. “We spent a lot of money on hill slope treatment [for the land] to create an elevated development overseeing the whole Wangsa area,” he says. “This is a prime spot in Wangsa Maju.”  

The company invested RM40 million to RM50 million on hill slope treatment and hired engineering design firm AECOM for the job.

Wangsa 9

The high-end serviced residence has a gross development value (GDV) of RM650 million. The development comprises three blocks — Block C (169 units), Block B (169 units) and Block A (227 units).

Residents can expect five-star finishes such as timber and marble flooring, says Tan.

“Most developers choose not to spend much on common areas but we have a different approach,” Tan says. He believes that investing more in common areas leads to a higher appreciation in property value.

“I believe that there is big potential for higher appreciation value as our finishes should be comparable to those of future developments,” he says. “Most of the developments in the area are offering porcelain tiles but we have opted for marble and timber flooring.”

Wangsa 9 is sold at premium of 5% to 10 % over similar products in the area.

“The units are priced around RM600 to RM700 psf. As for future blocks, prices may go higher,” he says. Block B, which is now open for sale, has a price tag of RM620 psf.  

Tan believes the premium is justified because the development is well located and has a 40-acre green lung adjacent to it.

“In terms of locality, there is a shopping mall and the [Sri Rampai] LRT station, in addition to a huge green lung behind the development. You will not be able to get this sort of [locale] except in KLCC,” he says.

Despite the launch being on a by-invitation basis, the development has reported an impressive take-up rate of 70% for Block C.  

“Our investors liked what we have done with our Kiara 9 development, so we are duplicating it here. Some were even prepared to sign the agreement without any models or show units,” claims Tan.

Wangsa 9 will have similar luxury finishes as Kiara 9 in Mont Kiara, including marble flooring for living and dining rooms, and solid timber flooring for all bedrooms. All bathrooms will also be finished with marble.

Block A will be launched in 2015. According to Tan, 600 potential purchases have registered an interest in the project since August.

The units have built-ups of 1,033 sq ft to 2,336 sq ft. They will come equipped with built-in furniture, including kitchen cabinets, wardrobes in all bedrooms, and airconditioning in all rooms.

Tan adds that the company is trying its best to keep the maintenance cost below 30 sen psf. He believes the development will appeal to young couples and families, and individuals who want to live close to the city centre.

“This would be an ideal place to bring up kids as we have put in a lot of facilities for children. We have gone out of our way to develop facilities that are ideal for outdoor activities.”

Among these are a mini water theme park, a rock-climbing facility, bicycle tracks and roller skate tracks.

Wangsa 9 is located six stops away from KLCC LRT station. Based on individual polls conducted by Tan and his team, it should take 15 minutes to reach the KLCC LRT station during peak hours.

LRT connectivity, a catalyst for Wangsa Maju

Property consultants are in agreement about Wangsa Maju’s connectivity. Director of research and strategic planning at Rahim & Co Chartered Surveyors Sulaiman Akhmady Mohd Saheh says the area’s proximity to KL is a strong catalyst for Wangsa Maju’s growth. Comparable developments to Wangsa 9 are Seasons Garden, Infiniti Residences, Irama Wangsa and Hedgeford 10.

Director at KGV-Lambert Smith Hampton Anthony Chua says properties in the area will continue to be fairly sought-after. “Setapak/Wangsa Maju is a fairly sought-after location due to its proximity to the city centre and its ample facilities and amenities. It’s unlikely that a glut will develop at this point in time,” says Chua.

Future plans

In Mitrajaya’s pipe-line is the 15-acre Puchong Prima mixed-use development scheduled for launch at the end of next year. Tan says the development will consist of a one million sq ft shopping mall, a three-star traveller’s hotel of 150-200 rooms, and 1,000 units of serviced apartments of 700 sq ft to 1,300 sq ft.

“Travellers might opt for a much lower-priced hotel compared with the city centre and they can travel to any part of the city using the LRT. In addition, there will be a shopping mall,” says Tan.

Tan believes that transit-oriented developments (TOD) will be a key focus of developers in the future. “With unstable oil prices, it will become very costly for people to drive into the city. TODs will get people to stay closer to where they work,” he says.

The mixed-use development will also feature a 150m link bridge to an LRT station, and integrated bus and taxi stations.

Tan adds that progress on the development is currently on track. It has a GDV of RM1.5 billion.

This article first appeared in City & Country, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on November 24 - 30, 2014.

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