City&Country: Asia Quest to start first mixed development outside Mont’Kiara

altAsia Quest Holdings Sdn Bhd is known for its property developments in Mont’Kiara, Kuala Lumpur, particularly its Kiaramas collection of high-end condominiums on the west side of the high-rise residential enclave.

Since its establishment in 1991, the company has developed four of the seven projects in its Kiaramas collection, all situated on a 45-acre site. It has also launched Vista Kiara and Lanai Kiara on the east side of Mont’Kiara that is dominated by projects by Sunrise Bhd, a name synonymous with Mont’Kiara.

Now, Asia Quest has moved on to its first mixed commercial development outside Mont’Kiara. The yet-to-be-named project is located at the junction of Jalan Semarak and Jalan Tun Razak in Kuala Lumpur’s Golden Triangle and is expected to be launched in 1½ years, its chief executive Woon Chung Neng tells City & Country.

Mixed development
Woon says the 2.5-acre commercial project will consist of two 34-storey apartment blocks and a 16-storey office tower.

The company had faced problems in getting approvals to develop the freehold site, which was acquired in 1995, as the government froze office developments in 1997.

“We received the approval in principle for this site in 1998 for a mixed development [serviced residential: 85%; and office: 15%], but they didn’t allow us to proceed due to the freeze. After years of appeal and after submitting an amended plan, we finally received our DO [development order] at the end of July and we will start work soon,” he says.

He is aware that a number of unsold office units in the vicinity of the site are as yet unsold but remains optimistic about the development. “It all depends on pricing. We will launch the project when the basement levels and the podium are completed.”

On plans for the project, Woon says the development will feature 1 to 2-bedroom units of between 800 and 2,200 sq ft aimed at young professionals and foreigners who like to live in the city and enjoy its conveniences.

Asia Quest, he adds, wants to promote the walk to work concept. Thus the rooftop of the office building will be connected to the two apartment blocks. There will be a gym in the section of the sky bridge connecting the two apartment blocks while the section of the sky bridge connecting the apartment and office blocks will feature a garden.

Another sky bridge will connect the two apartment blocks at the rooftop.

“The gym in the sky will allow the residents to enjoy views of the KLCC while they are working out. Then we will have an infinity swimming pool, landscaped garden and playground on the rooftop,” Woon says.
The indicative pricing of the residential units is between RM900 and RM1,000 psf. The developer might keep part of the office for its own use and lease out the rest. Total office space in the project will be 120,000 sq ft.

Asia Quest’s first residential project outside Mont’Kiara was Villa Banyan in Taman Yarl on Old Klang Road. The 80-unit condominium was completed in 2002.

Its four completed Kiaramas projects are Kiaramas Sutera (2001); Kiaramas Cendana (2003); Kiaramas Ayuria (2006); and Gateway Kiaramas (2007). The first three are condominiums that are fully sold. Some 85% of their buyers are Malaysians while the rest are foreigners. Gateway is a mixed development of office suites and serviced apartments. It boasts 168 serviced apartments in a 30-storey block and 168 office suites in an 11-storey corporate tower. The two are connected by a sky bridge.

The developer is holding on to some of the corporate suites for passive income generation.

Kiaramas Danai
Asia Quest recently launched its fifth project — Kiaramas Danai — in its Kiaramas collection on a four-acre land. What makes the two-block condominium project different from the rest is its residents’ entertaining zone (REZ).

alt“I found condo living has a common problem … if you are the type who likes to throw parties or have a lot of guests, you can’t do it at your unit because it is too small. You can’t have sizeable gatherings. If you stay in a bungalow, you can throw a party for 30 to 40 people but when you stay in a condo, you may have the bungalow living but you don’t have the bungalow lifestyle,” says Woon.

The REZ is a 2-storey mini-clubhouse with a private entrance, reception foyer, function hall for 50 people, games room, theatre function room, kitchen and an infinity-edged pool. It will be located in the furthest corner of the development so that the functions held there will not disturb the other residents.

alt“This is a distinguishing feature of Kiaramas Danai — I’m trying to return the bungalow lifestyle to residents who want security, privacy and smaller units but miss out on bigger function facilities,” says Woon, an architect by practice and who designs all the company’s projects.

Kiaramas Danai will also have three swimming pools, a floating gym — on a 50m feature pool — and a sunken pavilion. The sunken pavilion, Woon explains, is a place where the residents can walk to relax, surrounded by water at eye level. The units have their own private lift lobbies.

The first condominium block was launched in May at RM1.4 million to RM2.2 million each unit. Some 84% of the non-bumiputera units have been taken up to date. The second block was launched at the end of July at RM1.5 million to RM2.4 million each unit and the sales and purchase agreements are in the process of being signed by the buyers.

The freehold development offers 174 units in two sizes — 2,025 and 2,498 sq ft — as well as seven one-bedroom apartments with a built-up of 700 sq ft on the side of the garden and pool. Designed like landed villas, these small units will only be sold when the project is almost completed.

“Construction is at the 11th floor now. We began building in mid-2008 but we didn’t launch back then due to the economic crisis,” Woon explains.

Commenting on the condominium market in Mont’Kiara, he says the condos there continue to be well received, with prices having appreciated slightly over the past few months.

“Basically, the occupancy rate is about 75% and rental market yields more than 7%. Nevertheless, yields could be higher if the property is fully furnished with more innovative and nice interior designs,” Woon says.

Asia Quest’s next Kiaramas project, which is still on the drawing board, is expected to offer about 500 units.

Quality control
Quality control is a very high priority for the developer and it has come up with a reward system for contractors who better the targets set by it.

“I have a reward system for them. Once they subscribe to Singapore’s Conquas [The Construction Quality Assessment System] and they score higher than the minimum standard, we give them cash rewards. We think quality must be implemented intentionally and the builders must be quality-conscious contractors,” Woon says.

This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 823, Sep 13-19, 2010

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