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City&Country: Cover Story-- From backwater to hot spot

For some, Seri Kembangan in Selangor seems like a sleepy backwater — an under-developed area dotted with buildings that are inferior both in type and design to those in better-known addresses in Kuala Lumpur.

To the more discerning, however, Seri Kembangan is emerging as an exciting real estate play. This is primarily due to the abundant development activities in nearby Puchong and Cyberjaya.

Similar to Puchong in its early days, Seri Kembangan has modest beginnings. Seri Kembangan New Village was set up in 1952, and is believed to be the country’s second largest Chinese settlement after Jinjang New Village near Kepong.

Puchong, too, was another quiet backwoods community in Selangor before its transformation into a much sought-after thriving business and living hub.

The potential of Seri Kembangan was spotted and acknowledged years ago by some developers, which proceeded to build high-profile projects like the award-winning Gita Bayu residential enclave and the Country Heights’ Mines Resort City.

More developers then moved in, and the area began to attract property builders and buyers alike.

New Golden Triangle?
Managing director of PA International Property Consultants (KL) Jerome Hong says Seri Kembangan is divided into three sections — the new village area; the older and more established eastern area along the North-South Expressway, with landmarks such as Universiti Putra Malaysia, Taman Sri Serdang, South City Plaza and The Mines; and the newer southwestern side of Seri Kembangan, with developments such as Equine Park.

The newer area, Hong tells City & Country, seems to be “inching closer” to Puchong and together with Cyberjaya, and is forming what is dubbed the Golden Triangle of the Southern Corridor of the Klang Valley.

Calling the area a property hot spot with upside potential, Hong says developments in Putrajaya, Cyberjaya, the KL International Airport and the Sepang International F1 Circuit have contributed to the robust growth in the south of the Klang Valley.

The population of the Klang Valley Southern Corridor has increased by about 20% per annum (2000 to 2007), Hong notes.

Seri Kembangan comprises mostly leasehold land. It comes under the ambit of the Subang Jaya Municipal Council.

Turning into the narrow Jalan Besar — the main carriageway in Seri Kembangan — from Sungai Besi Expressway, one is greeted on the right by South City Plaza mall. The road is flanked on both sides by 2-storey shops and light industrial factories.

Driving about 8km down the road, one gets onto Jalan Putra Permai, the south western side of Seri Kembangan. Here are newer residential estates such as Taman Universiti Indah; Taman Equine, Putra Permai, Permai Park and Pusat Bandar Putra Permai developed by Equine Capital Bhd; as well as Taman Pinggiran Putra and Kota Perdana by LBS Bina Bhd.

Seri Kembangan is also not short of public facilities. In its midst are Serdang Hospital, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, schools and shopping centres. iProp Realty Sdn Bhd managing director Victor Lim says Seri Kembangan seems to be getting closer to Puchong, Old Klang Road and Sri Petaling, where developments are taking place rapidly.

“Development land is getting scarce and expensive in the city. Therefore, developers have started looking for land on the fringe of the city and Seri Kembangan fits the bill… it’s less than 15km from the city, and accessible via many highways…  Most important of all, the land cost is cheaper than those in Petaling Jaya and Kuala Lumpur. The large Chinese population also has strong purchasing power.

“While Seri Kembangan is growing, developments in Puchong are also moving towards this area. Compared with Puchong of its mid and high-end property, houses in Seri Kembangan are more affordable,” says Lim. For these reasons, Lim expects more people to buy Seri Kembangan properties. “Seri Kembangan no longer sounds remote from the city,” he adds.

Metro Homes Sdn Bhd director See Kok Loong too says he has noted the gradual rise in demand for Seri Kembangan real estate.

KGV-Lambert Smith Hampton director Anthony Chua says developments in Seri Kembangan have been moving south westward to eventually link up with Puchong. The wholesale market in Seri Kembangan is also a boon for the area. He sees future developments heading southwards towards Putrajaya and Cyberjaya.

Commercial potential
Commercial development is a strong catalyst in the growth of any area; it is no different in Seri Kembangan. Life there has never been the same since the advent of AEON Taman Equine Shopping Centre. Tesco and Giant hypermarts are also coming up in the vicinity.

AEON Taman Equine Shopping Centre opened on July 21, 2006, and is the 14th store of AEON Co (M) Bhd. The two-floor shopping centre sits on a 12-acre tract and has a built-up area of 400,000 sq ft occupied by more than 75 outlets.

iProp’s Lim says the value of commercial properties in Seri Kembangan has improved due to the rapid population growth and good road network.

“For instance, a 2-storey shop near Jaya Jusco was on sale for less than RM400,000 in 2004, but its current asking price is around RM580,000 to RM680,000,” he says.

The demand has not gone unnoticed. Several commercial projects are coming up, among them the leasehold RM80 million Puchong Gateway by Newfields Property Management Sdn Bhd. The project sits on a 52-acre commercial land next to Taman Equine. Gateway Square, Phase 2 of Puchong Gateway, comprises 66 units of 2, 3 and 4-storey shopoffices, with built-ups ranging from 3,500 to 8,000 sq ft. These were launched at RM780,000 onwards.

The Atmosphere, officially launched on Aug 8 this year, is on Jalan Putra Permai in Bandar Putra Permai. Spanning over 53 acres, it will be developed in three phases jointly by Tempo Properties Sdn Bhd and Eksons Corp Bhd. It will feature a hypermarket, shopping mall, hotel, serviced apartments, office suites and shops.

Phase One will be occupied by Giant Hypermarket. Phase Two offers 136 office suites and shops, with built-ups of 3,000 to 14,500 sq ft. The third and final phase of The Atmosphere, occupying 14.5 acres, will mainly see retail projects.

Accessibility
Seri Kembangan is getting congested. KGV-Lambert’s Chua attributes this to increasing traffic and the narrow roads built years ago.

Accessibility, however, is good as the area is linked to numerous highways, including Sungai Besi Expressway (Besraya), Lebuhraya Sistem Lingkaran Kajang (SILK Highway), KL-Seremban Highway and Bukit Jalil Highway. Puchong can be reached via the Damansara-Puchong Expressway.

PA International’s Hong says this is in contrast to the new village area where the layout is haphazard. The internal roads are joined to the main road of Jalan Besar. Other major roads in Seri Kembangan are Jalan Putra Permai and Jalan Serdang Raya.

Besides the highways, public transport is available via KTM Komuter (Serdang station), Rapid KL bus service, and taxis. Indeed, from Seri Kembangan, one can head to Bandar Mahkota Cheras, Bandar Sungai Long, Cheras Selatan and Kajang through SILK Highway.

Public transport in Seri Kembangan will be given a boost with the completion next year of the Permai Central Transport Hub (PCTH) — an integrated commercial development combining business, leisure and public transport. The project at Pusat Bandar Putra Permai was launched in July 2007.

PCTH comprises a 5-storey commercial block, four blocks of shopoffices and a 7-storey office tower and will have some 340,000 sq ft of commercial space complete with facilities such as lifts, public toilets and waiting areas for taxis, buses and passengers. Seri Kembangan is certainly an address to look out for.

This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 785, Dec 14-20, 2009.

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