City&Country: AQRS offers its brand of luxury living

Bring up Ng Kit Heng’s latest project and the engineer is liable to talk up a blue streak. He is understandably proud of his company’s maiden standalone offering in the neighbourhood of Melawati, home to a recent boom in luxury residential projects in Kuala Lumpur.

AQRS (pronounced “acres”) The Building Company, in which Ng and Paul Ow are partners and directors, is joining the big boys in delivering its own vision of luxe living with Contours Melawati Heights.
Set amid lush greenery, the gated community will feature 41 twin courtyard villas hugging a gently undulating slope.

Ng is especially excited about the buildings and the underlying philosophy of the design. “At AQRS, we always want to innovate. We don’t want to follow anyone else. We want to push back the boundaries,” he tells City & Country.

A unit of Motibina Sdn Bhd, a contractor the résumé of which is peppered with roadworks, irrigation and drainage works and other infrastructural works, AQRS is spearheading the group’s property development business.

Motibina was a subcontractor for the Kemuning-Shah Alam highway developed by Projek Lintasan Kota Holdings Sdn Bhd (Prolintas).

Striking out on its own
Motibina’s story began in 1996 when two friends saw it fit to forge their own path after spending years as the top brass of two construction outfits.

Ng, a former director of Sunway Construction Sdn Bhd (SunCon), parted ways with the company after serving it for 15 years.

alt“Before leaving the group, I made sure I found a suitable replacement. I got Kwan (Foh Kwai), a former classmate, to take my place,” he says. Kwan is currently the managing director of SunCon.

Ow was a director of construction outfit Dekon Sdn Bhd, the Sunway group’s long-term main contractor. (He was not present at the interview with City & Country.)

In 2001, the group set up Damansara Residences Sdn Bhd to undertake projects in Kota Damansara in collaboration with the Selangor government which owned some land in the area.

Its maiden projects in Kota Damansara are The Residency (gross development value: RM92.8 million) and Bistari ‘de’ Kota (GDV: RM77.2 million). The former features 92 semi-detached homes on 13 acres of land and the latter 67 units of 2-storey shopoffices and 24 units of 3-storey shopoffices on a 12-acre site, with 700 outdoor parking bays.

Damansara Residences rebranded itself as AQRS as the company sought to embark on a project in Melawati Heights, one that it could truly call its own, says Ng.

Contours Melawati Heights
AQRS, like many other players in the market, saw promise in Melawati Heights’ flora and fauna — thanks to its location on a mountain ridge — and its connection to Kuala Lumpur via the Duta-Ulu Kelang Expressway (DUKE), Ampang-Kuala Lumupur Elevated Highway (AKLEH) and Middle Ring Road 2 (MRR2).

Ng recounts how he fell in love with the area, notably its spectacular view of limestone hills.

He acquired the eight-acre parcel from an individual for about “RM30 million to RM40 million” a few years ago. “I was determined to buy the land, although it was expensive.”

AQRS decided to build 41 twin courtyard villas along the land’s undulations. The project is called Contours Melawati Heights.

“Traditionally, I think there are not many options for high-end homes in Malaysia. You have bungalows, semidees and condominiums. All these are very common,” he says.

altEach unit is made up of two pavilions, one larger than the other, linked by two walkways on the top and ground floors. The pavilions overlook two pools within a shared compound.

Ng feels that the sounds and feel of the pools’ water will add an extra-sensorial dimension to the living experience. He expects homeowners to derive a sense of peace from the pools as well as the mountain views.

The interior, meanwhile, is designed to be airy and spacious. Apart from large windows, certain units come with double-void spaces to give homeowners an unobstructed view of all the floors, says Ng.
“The master bedrooms are also on the top floor to give homeowners the feeling of being the master of their own house,” he says.

Meanwhile, the east and west pavilions help balance a large family’s need for space and privacy, says Ng. For instance, grandparents who wish to maintain their own space and not intrude on their children may opt to live in the smaller pavilion. For older folks, a lift is installed in each unit, says Ng.

Alternatively, he proposes that the smaller pavilion be used as an entertainment area.

Green features such as rainwater harvesting, photovoltaic panels, insulation and large windows are tastefully incorporated into the design, Ng adds.

The units and the pools are surrounded by walls that are 3m to 4m high to ensure privacy.

As a gated community, the perimeter will be lined with CCTVs and security is expected to be round the clock. Inside, the roads are designed to curve gently to slow down traffic, Ng notes.

“We tried to minimise earth-cutting. We must respect nature,” he adds.

What is most interesting, however, is a clubhouse that will provide ser­vices such as simple electrical and home repairs, says Ng. It will also double as the security hub to which the emergency lift buttons will be connected. The guards will be trained to deal with stalled elevators and similar emergencies and should be able to swiftly render aid or call the relevant authorities, Ng adds.

There are four types of layout, with built-ups ranging from 4,364 to 7,459 sq ft and land areas from 4,487 to 6,597 sq ft. The largest unit has a 3 and 4-storey configuration while the rest have a 2 and 3-storey configuration.

The wide space allows for a garage on the premises, where six regular sedans may be parked comfortably, says Ng.

Since its soft launch late last year, AQRS has sold 21 of the 41 units. Most of its smaller units, priced from RM2.5 million, have been taken up, leaving the larger models that cost RM3.3 million upwards, says Ng.

“The units were picked up by our regulars — from our first project in Kota Damansara. We will push the entire project forward before we deliver the keys to homeowners in 2013, so that they will not have to bear the discomfort of ongoing construction,” he adds.

Gombak Grove
Next up for AQRS is Gombak Grove, a series of 25 zero-lot bungalows north of Taman Seri Gombak, Selangor.

Four types of units named after the four seasons will be housed on four acres of land. The gated and guarded project will offer homes with built-ups and land areas starting from 5,000 sq ft and prices from RM2.1 million.

“There is a gap in the market for upscale properties in Gombak,” says Ng. “Based on our research, Gombak residents are looking to upgrade.”

AQRS is in the midst of getting planning approvals and aims to launch the project by the end of the year.
It also has plans for a mixed commercial development in Damansara Perdana. The project will comprise retail and office elements on three acres, but this is still on the drawing board, says Ng.

The leasehold parcel is adjacent to Tujuan Gemilang Sdn Bhd’s PJ Trade Centre.

AQRS will spare no expense and has already engaged a top architecture firm to bring its vision to life, says Ng.

Permas Jaya, Johor
AQRS recently undertook a privatisation exercise with the Johor government after acquiring a company that holds a concession to develop a seven-acre tract close to Iskandar Malaysia.

It plans to build 99 shoplots and hopes to start work by the middle of next year.

“Northbound from Singapore, the tract is on the right side of Jalan Tebrau. There is a lot of traffic, which gives the area tremendous potential for businesses that require a lot of exposure, such as food and beverage [F&B] outlets as well as car dealerships,” Ng says.

He says some car dealers have approached AQRS about the project and the property developer has also proposed to add a car museum to the mix to generate excitement.

“We’re cracking our heads now for a way to develop the area. We will appoint the best architects to bring their ideas to life. But plans are still very fluid. If it works out, the car dealers may want to buy the land from us; it is up to them,” he adds.

AQRS is eyeing parcels of land that have potential for immediate demand, says Ng.

“We are looking at choice locations where there is no need to wait 10 to 15 years for development to catch up,” he adds.

AQRS is also willing to form joint ventures with landowners who wish to develop their land.

This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 822, Sep 6-12, 2010

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