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City & Country: PJ landmark sold for RM42 mil

ONE of the first emporiums in Petaling Jaya’s town centre was recently sold to an international ice-cream brand franchise holder for RM42 million.

Thrifty Realty Sdn Bhd sold the 50-year-old Wisma Thrifty in Jalan Barat to Scoop Resources Sdn Bhd. Sources tell City & Country that the deal was inked in April but the company only secured funding for the purchase recently. Scoop Resources is controlled by Cheah See Yeong and Soon Geok Lin, who also own Malaysia’s sole Baskin-Robbins franchisee Golden Scoop Sdn Bhd.

Toh: The location of Wisma Thrifty is strategic location

Wisma Thrifty is a four-storey building with a basement carpark and a built-up of around 94,000 sq ft. The building sits on a 1.06-acre leasehold parcel. The price of the land alone works out to roughly RM900 psf.

“That’s pretty steep. If Scoop Resources plans to redevelop the site and launch a project, it will have to wait until land prices in PJ catch up to that level first,” remarks Laurelcap Sdn Bhd director Stanley Toh.

According to him, the most recent notable transaction was PJ Development Holdings Bhd’s acquisition of 5.93 acres of leasehold industrial land with offices and warehouses in Section 13 from DK Central Services Malaysia Sdn Bhd for RM124.2 million, or around RM490 psf.

A Scoop Resources spokesperson says the company is leaving the building as it is for now and is looking for more tenants. The three major tenants are Giant hypermarket, Courts furniture and appliance store, and the Academy of Pastry Arts Malaysia.

Wisma Thrifty was known for a number of firsts — it housed the first supermarket in Petaling Jaya and had one of the first KFC (then Kentucky Fried Chicken) outlets in the country. It was also home to the Malaysian Trades Union Congress, which sold the property to Thrifty Realty for RM15 million in 1993.

A source familiar with the matter believes that there is potential for serviced apartments or SoHos (small office, home office) in that area since there aren’t many homes in PJ’s centre.

According to Toh, the plot ratio for commercial development in PJ’s centre is six. “There may be a restriction on serviced apartments if the land is not big enough though.”

A stone’s throw away is IJM Land Bhd’s PJ8 mixed-use development that comprises four blocks of offices and serviced suites.

“PJ8’s serviced apartments are all sold out but I don’t know what the occupancy rates are like. As for the offices, they are a little quiet,” Toh says.

Grade A office yields in Petaling Jaya average 5%, according to Toh. “They are subdued because the offices were expensive owing to the high land cost.”

Some of the newer offices in the area include SBC Corp’s 33-storey PJ Exchange, which has a net lettable area of 300,000 sq ft, and Malton Bhd’s V Square, which comprises five blocks of corporate towers and business suites that are seven to 19 storeys tall.

Coming up in front of Hotel Armada in Jalan Utara, Section 52, is The Pinnacle. The development comprises two office towers with loft offices and office suites. The built-ups of the loft offices range from 741 to 1,025 sq ft, office suites from 329 to 606 sq ft, and offices from 558 to 1,518 sq ft. Prices average RM828 psf.

Meanwhile, prices of serviced apartments and SoHos range from RM700 to RM800 psf. “I think that so long as the absolute price does not exceed RM500,000, sales will not be a problem,” Toh opines.

While he deems the transaction pricey, he notes that it is a strategic location. For starters, Wisma Thrifty — which is across the road from Stamford College and PJ Hilton — is close to an exit ramp to the Federal Highway. The new Kinrara-Damansara Expressway (Kidex) that starts at Damansara Jaya and ends at Bandar Kinrara Section 6 is expected to go past the area and there will likely be a turn-off nearby.

“The new PJ Sentral Garden City coming up nearby will be a game-changer. Part of the redevelopment includes building new flyovers to link to the Kidex that will enhance access to the area,” Toh adds.

PJ Sentral is the redevelopment of Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Selangor’s old headquarters. The 10-acre tract will be transformed into seven blocks of offices, serviced apartments and hotels. The entire project has a gross development value of RM11 billion.

The building’s new owner plans to fill up the partly-tenanted building

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on December 16, 2013.

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