City&Country: Cover Story-- Selling a unique concept

Asians are generally more family-centric than Westerners. To capitalise on this cultural trait, HSB Development Sdn Bhd has taken “multi-generational” residences to a new level — it is introducing wellness and healthcare facilities aimed at providing residents of diverse age groups a comfortable and safe living environment.

Not surprisingly, this niche property product was the brainchild of two doctors turned property developers. HSB Development was established under HSC Healthcare Sdn Bhd (HSC), which is known for merging the concepts of hospital and hospitality under one roof at Menara HSC in Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur. Following Menara HSC’s success, HSC chairman Dr Lim Yin Chow decided to use the concept in a larger environment. HSB was established to do just that on a site in Ara Damansara, Petaling Jaya. The serviced apartment project is known as AraGreens Residences and sits on 7.42 acres of freehold land located opposite Dataran Ara Damansara. The development has an estimated gross development value (GDV) of RM800 million to RM1 billion.

Driving force
The wellness residential concept was foremost on Lim’s mind when he and fellow doctor and executive director Dr Soo Chee Siong established HSC in 2003 to focus on preventive healthcare as well as the treatment of patients. “We wanted to introduce a way to make it easier for patients to be closer to their families when they are being treated in a medical facility and at the same time, not sacrifice comfort,” Lim explains.

Besides the sick, when people get old, there is an inherent need for a more comfortable living environment. “We found that when society gets old, they realise that where they’re staying no longer suits their needs due to the lack of wellness and healthcare facilities in the development. So we started the wellness residential concept with Menara HSC where the serviced apartments are designed to cater for wellness as well as lifestyle.

“For instance, a number of overseas patients come to our medical facility for treatment while the family stays in the serviced apartment next door. Patients want to be with their loved ones in a comfortable environment and we believe that this is also an important part of the healing process,” Lim observes.

Menara HSC comprises a full-fledged private medical centre — HSC Medical Centre — and the Somerset Ampang serviced apartments. It is a 23-storey tower situated on an acre of freehold land and was completed in November 2010. The medical floors are located on levels four to seven and consist of eight medical wards, including one medical VIP suite and seven deluxe suites. The 208 serviced apartments are located on levels 9 to 21 and have built-ups of 344 to 1,087 sq ft. Menara HSC also has six retail outlets with built-ups of 193 to 215 sq ft and a food and beverage outlet.

The tower is designed to be a one-stop centre for medical tourists and local patients. “We are proud to say that our vision of Menara HSC has been realised,” says Lim. “It’s one of Kuala Lumpur’s unique mixed commercial developments where a medical facility was successfully combined with serviced apartments.”

HSC Medical Centre first opened its doors for business on Feb 18, 2003, when it was located in Jalan Binjai, KL, but it moved to Menara HSC in 2010. The medical centre treats both local and foreign patients, one of whom was Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The Ascott Ltd bought 208 units or 13 floors of Menara HSC in 2007 to be managed as serviced apartments. Somerset Ampang is now its sixth property in Malaysia.

The medical facilities, which take up five levels and six floors of parking space, are owned and managed by HSC Medical Centre. Somerset Ampang has an occupancy rate of 85%. Of the medical tourists seeking treatment at Menara HSC, 60% are from overseas.

Facilities for the medical tourists include a medical spa, stem cell centre, diagnostic centre and an ICU ward, among others, while the serviced apartments offer tenants a barbecue area, aerobics room, gym, restaurant and café, and more.

AraGreens Residences
According to Seth Lim, who is the CEO of HSB Development, while catering for the Asian culture of taking care of the old, it is also important to meet the needs of the younger generation. “When we started AraGreens Residences, it came from the need to satisfy the requirement for multi-generation homes.”

Seth says such homes are comfortable and suitable for family members between the ages of 2 to 90.

Pointing out that AraGreens Residences is the first to integrate the lifestyle and wellness awareness component into a development, he says, “When a three-generation family occupies our homes, we will look after the young children as well as the old grandparents. AraGreens Residences aims to provide childcare and wellness to its residents, including healthcare facilities. We will also have medical spas and pediatric, chiropractic and even dental [services] in a resort environment.”

The medical spa offers conventional massages along with the usual body treatments as well as traditional Chinese treatments, including acupuncture and reflexology.

Other facilities include a swimming pool, barbecue area, putting green, herb garden, tennis court, badminton court, golf simulator and squash court. According to Lim, the company is putting a lot of thought into the facilities to embrace the unique concept it is offering.

Construction of AraGreens Residences commenced last month and the development is expected to be completed in 2015. The 700 units of the six 15-storey towers will be released for sale in phases depending on the success of the units in the first tower.

The standard units are 684 to 3,097 sq ft in size while the penthouses are 3,140 to 3,834 sq ft. The two and 3+1 bedroom units are priced from RM480,000 to RM890,000 while the 3+1, 4+1 and 5+1 bedroom units and penthouses cost RM1.1 million to RM2.4 million.

Tower D — the first tower — offering 118 apartments is expected to be launched this month or next. But even before the official launch, the take-up rate stands at 60%. Lim says he expects the response to the official launch to be good because Ara Damansara is in an excellent location, thanks to its easy accessibility.

Design competition
Six of the top architects from Singapore and Malaysia were invited to participate in a competition to come up with the best design for AraGreens Residences. “The winning entry came from an architectural practice in Singapore called WOW Design Lab Pte Ltd,” says Lim. “They designed it based on a network of roots, which reflects our network in life of family and friends.”

The design of the towers is also unique. Each floor is twisted like an out-of-place Rubik’s cube. The twisting, says Lim, is not only to create a unique aesthetic but also to provide greater privacy between floors. “This also makes the towers look less rigid and more organic.”

Lim is also placing emphasis on landscaping as he believes it is the key to creating a comfortable living environment.

Health-monitoring system
To emphasise its commitment to the wellness and lifestyle concept of AraGreens Residences, the developer plans to introduce a mobile health device in every residence. “It’s called the Medihome system,” says Lim.

This sole proprietary product of HSC is a portable health-monitoring device that periodically checks a user’s health status and also monitors blood pressure, electrocardiography and blood glucose, among others.

“Owners can add other health-monitoring systems to the device by paying extra. The information stored in the Medihome system can be accessed via smartphones, enabling the easy monitoring of, say, a sickly parent’s health,” explains Lim.

The Medihome system works hand in hand with the MobileHealth2U software that enables users to access health information within medically enabled homes like AraGreens Residences.

Dual key homes
The development will also boast the “dual key” concept, which allows families to live under the same roof and have some privacy. “A typical dual key home will have an ancillary unit annexed to the primary unit with separate entrances,” Seth explains. “This is especially appealing to families, who will have the comfort of knowing that their elderly parents or grown-up children live right next door.”

The ancillary unit is self-contained with its own living space, bathroom and kitchenette. Seth says the smaller unit can also be rented out.

AraGreens Residences offers six types of units to choose from, of which types D and E are the dual key homes.

According to Lim, although its wellness residential concept is new, the project has been well received not only by Malaysians but also investors from Hong Kong, Japan and Indonesia.

At the pre-launch on Feb 18, the buyers were both local and foreign, he says. “We expect the concept to be very successful as it tackles social problems faced in everyday life, including childcare and several generations living under one roof.

“Some of our buyers are Malaysians working in China and Dubai. They like the concept and are buying the homes in the hope that their parents can live with them. Many also believe that although they live overseas, they can keep an eye on their parents via the Medihome system.”

The project will feature a commercial component as well. This will occupy a separate plot of 1.2 acres and face the residences. It will have a gross floor area of about 224,000 sq ft and will be completed not more than a year after AraGreens Residences is ready, says Lim. He adds that he plans to fill it with medical and therapeutic services, such as chiropractic and physiotherapy.

Future developments
Moving forward, Lim says the group has other developments with a similar concept in the pipeline and has acquired another piece of land in Cyberjaya. “We are going to do something similar there while exploring the possibility of expanding to Penang and China as well.”

HSB will replicate Menara HSC and AraGreens Residences according to the type of land and the location in future developments, he adds.

“If the land we acquire to expand our concept is smaller, most likely we will replicate Menara HSC. But if the land is larger and located in a suburban area, we believe the AraGreens Residences concept will be a better fit.”

Lim believes Cyberjaya is the next hot area with good growth prospects. He also hopes to take the Menara HSC concept to Penang, considering the scarcity of land on the island.

The developer is currently negotiating the acquisition of land in Penang and China, and looking for joint-venture opportunities. It also sees some parts of Japan as potential markets waiting to be explored.

In an ageing society, HSB Development’s wellness residential concept may well be what families are looking for to lead a comfortable life.


This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 905, Apr 9-15, 2012

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