City&Country: Cover Story-- Beach in the sky

Renowned author Paulo Coelho once said: “We all have the ability … we just don’t all have the courage to follow our dreams and to follow the signs.” This may ring true for most, but not for niche property developer Bukit Kiara Properties Sdn Bhd (BKP).

All three of the four towers in its fully furnished, high-end Verve Suites condominium development in Mont’Kiara, Kuala Lumpur, that have been unveiled so far have been a hit with the market.

Verve Suites sits on 5.87 acres of freehold land, with a total gross development value (GDV) of RM590 million.

Much has been said and written about the one-of-a-kind sky lounges in its Viva, Vibe and Vogue Towers, which were designed to communicate starkly different living concepts. 

The sky lounge of Viva Tower introduced the Vertigo Living Concept while the Hypercubes Living Concept was integrated into Vibe Tower’s sky lounge. The sky lounge at Vogue Tower, meanwhile, boasts the Concentrico Living Concept.

So, what is the “wow” factor of Verve Suites’ final block, Vox Tower?

Believe it or not, the developer will be creating Malaysia’s first “beach in the sky” or a sky beach, and call it the Versilica Sky Beach.

Yes, a proper beach where one can wriggle one’s toes in fine white sand, literally sway in the breeze with the coconut trees and sunbathe on comfortable deck chairs sipping a cocktail from the bar. Only, the “beach” will be 37 storeys off the ground!

altBKP group managing director N K Tong tells City & Country that the Versilica Sky Beach will sit on the 37th floor — the first three levels of the tower will feature Verve Shops — and that there will be two levels of “beaches”.

The name “Versilica” is derived from the combination of “Verve” and “silica”, which is an element found in sand and quartz.

The sandy “beach” will share the space with a 20m-long lap pool or sky pool, a bar, recreation rooms, a jet pool, a sun garden and a grill terrace.

Like the rest of Verve Suites, all 250 units in the RM261 million Vox Tower will come fully furnished and in sizes ranging from 462 sq ft (1-bedroom) to 1,394 sq ft (3-bedroom). The developer is offering two interior design options for the units, which will be priced from RM950 psf to RM1,500 psf, depending on size and level.

Previews for Vox Tower start on June 5.

Brainstorming and mind-mapping
“Eight years ago, Verve Suites merely existed on the drawing board. My team and I were then wondering how we were going to transform all the ‘impossible’ ideas into reality. Some thought the ideas were crazy, but as we developed the project, it became more interesting,” says Tong.

How did the sky beach concept come about? Tong says it was during the company’s quarterly training retreat, where 42 BKP staff members from various departments, including security, human resources and construction, were divided into six groups for brainstorming and mind-mapping sessions. “They were told to mind-map what they would want to see in the fourth block of Verve Suites, to present their dreams for the block. What were common themes among the groups were beach, water, games and sand elements,” Tong says.

altThe developer has spent an undisclosed amount of money to commission an enormous 14ft by 22ft scale model showcasing each of its four towers, with a special focus on its unique sky lounges and common facilities area on the fifth level to be enjoyed by all residents.
It took the designer six months to complete the detailed scale model and the outcome is quite impressive. The one-of-a-kind scale model will be unveiled during the preview of Vox Tower on June 5.

That retreat some nine months ago was the dawn of the Versilica Sky Beach concept for Vox Tower.
The 240-unit Viva Tower, which is fully sold, was completed last year. Unit sizes range from 633 to 1,446 sq ft. According to data obtained from the developer, the average unit price in 2006 was RM600 psf, and in a secondary market transaction at the end of last year, a unit on the 30th floor was sold at RM900 psf.
Viva Tower’s Vertigo sky lounge is located on its 35th floor while its Vertigo sky terrace is on the 36th floor. With a built-up of more than 10,000 sq ft, the sky lounge offers an amazing view of Mont’Kiara and beyond. The Vertigo living concept also includes a gymnasium and games room. 

Vibe Tower is expected to be completed by the end of this year. It has a total of 188 units, which are fully taken up. Its  Hypercubes sky lounge boasts a built-up of 8,000 sq ft. Among its highlights are a 700 sq ft fully equipped German-made Gaggenau fitted kitchen, a 550 sq ft dining area and two chill-out rooms complete with Jacuzzis. The dining area, also known as Hyperdine, is lovely for a formal dining experience under the sky. On sunny days, a perforated metal sky roof and a metal sunscreen shield the dining area, and with a push of a button, the metal sunscreen slides aside at night for a perfect dinner setting.

“We provide a platform for the residents. What they do with the space is up to them. For example, they could hire a famous chef to prepare dinner for a party they are hosting. The kitchen itself can fit 30 people comfortably but if they need more space they can rent the additional dining area next to the kitchen as well,” Tong says.

The Hypercubes sky lounge is completed and open for viewing.

The units in Vibe Tower, with built-ups of 633 to 2,659 sq ft, were launched at an average of RM700 psf in 2007. The developer will be handing over the keys to the purchasers by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the third block, Vogue Tower, is over 90% sold. Its sky lounge is on the 31st floor, has a built-up of 6,240 sq ft and is called the Gardens of Concentrico. It includes a lush garden sanctuary, an outdoor cinema called Cinema Paradiso and an aqua gym. Cinema Paradiso, Tong explains, is like a drive-in cinema but one finds a comfortable spot amidst the lush greenery to enjoy the movie on a big screen.

Vogue Tower will be completed in early 2012. Its units were sold at an average of RM950 psf in 2008 and have built-ups of 462 to 932 sq ft.

Now, before a debate begins on “which block will be the best”, Verve Suites’ residents will have access to all four sky lounges and all four towers will share a common area on the fifth floor. The sky lounges are in addition to the common facilities provided that comprise swimming pools, two tennis courts, a charming garden with private sitting areas and reflexology paths on Level 5, as well as two squash courts, two badminton courts and a gymnasium located two levels below. There will be a total of seven pools in the whole development. Its total recreational space will cover over 100,000 sq ft.

When asked which block was the most challenging in terms of design, Tong replies: “All four blocks were challenging as each tower is unique. But we realised that as we worked on it, we could do it. What we gained is confidence — if we really want something, we can pull it off together.”

He attributes the success of the project thus far to the “power of the team”.

The Verve Shops, meanwhile, with their neighbourhood theme, take up 60,000 sq ft of space and are for lease only. The developer says many retailers from different sectors, such as F&B, beauty and even a drama/music school, have expressed keen interest in leasing the space. However, BKP is utilising the space for its show gallery and show units for Vox Tower, and will only shortlist the retailers at a later date.
The bold idea of the developer to introduce out-of-the-box lifestyle concepts in all four of  Verve Suites’ towers will be fully realised in 2014, when Vox Tower is completed.

altApart from Mont’Kiara, the developer is looking to preview in 4Q2010 its boutique condominium development called Ambangan in Persiaran Madge in Ampang, Kuala Lumpur. “We’re in the final stage of planning the 19-unit development with large units of 3,500 sq ft,” Tong says.

BKP is also expected to unveil its much-anticipated high-end development in the Kuala Lumpur city centre next year.

This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 809, June 7-13, 2010

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