City&Country: Cover Story-- Setia Eco Park continues to flourish

The drive to Setia Eco Park in Shah Alam on a recent Wednesday morning was rather pleasant, as we were going against the morning hour traffic heading to Kuala Lumpur. The Setia Alam Highway, which was completed in 2006, led straight to the high-end development across from Bandar Setia Alam. Setia Alam itself is a hive of construction activity with Setia City Mall, within the Setia City integrated commercial hub, targeted to open by the end of next year.

On arrival, Bandar Setia-Eco Sdn Bhd CEO Koe Peng Kang took the City & Country team on a buggy ride to parts of the 791-acre freehold Setia Eco Park, a joint venture between S P Setia, Great Eastern Life Assurance (M) Bhd and the Employees Provident Fund.

In 2007, Setia Eco Park won the International Real Estate Federation (Fiabci) Prix d’Excellence Award for Best Master Plan Development in 2007. Last Thursday, Precinct 3 of the garden township was declared Best Residential Low-Rise Development at the Fiabci Malaysia Property Award 2010.

Precinct 3, the only completed precinct in Setia Eco Park, consists of 176 bungalows, 303 bungalow lots and 278 semi-dees.  The 185-acre precinct, which includes a 25-acre man-made lake in its midst, has seen impressive capital appreciation over the years.

Bungalows in Precinct 3, launched in 2005 for RM920,000 to RM1.6 million, have seen recent transactions of around RM2.2 million. Semidees, which cost RM630,000 to RM700,000 when launched, are currently priced from RM1.5 million. Bungalow lots are now  worth RM180 psf to RM200 psf, compared with RM56 psf in 2005.

Much has been said and written about Setia Eco Park, touted as the country’s first eco-themed master-planned development of high-end semi-detached homes and bungalows. Each of the three precincts within Setia Eco Park (Precincts 2, 3 and 5) is lushly landscaped, with scenic lakes that teem with life.

“Setia Eco Park was just a concept back in 2004, based on Tan Sri Liew’s (S P Setia group president and CEO Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin) vision to have an eco-based residential enclave. It was first launched in 2005 and we saw buyers mainly from Klang. Today, our buyers are from all over the Klang Valley,” Koe tells City & Country. Right from the start, it was designed to be a high-end low-density township with about 3.7 houses per acre, he says.

The development is part of the 3,953 acres acquired in 2002 from the family controlling the See Hoy Chan Group. The tract was formerly known as North Hummock Estate. About 605 acres were later sold to the Selangor State Development Corp  (PKNS).

Before the Setia Alam Highway was completed in 2006 at a cost of RM150 million, the only entrance was via Jalan Meru in Klang. Perhaps that explains why Klang residents made up the highest number of buyers in the earlier phases.

“In 2004, I was in the group’s construction division and was involved in building the Batu Pahat highway when I was called back to look at this place in Shah Alam. We were wondering what could we do. We considered building houses with wind tunnels and solar panels but at that time, it was not justifiable as it was too expensive for solar panels and the location was rather unsuitable for wind tunnels. So in the end, we decided to go back to basics and focus on other eco-friendly features,” he says.

Going back to basics meant having more plants, preserving the flora and fauna, including the fish in the lakes, and setting aside a 56-acre forest park where residents can go jungle trekking.
Today, Setia Eco Park is about 50% developed, with over 1,000 completed homes and a population of more than 1,900.

“Setia Eco Park is no longer just a dream, it is now a reality,” says Koe, who has been with S P Setia for 14 years.

For him, the realisation of what was a concept on paper is “more of a sense of relief than pride. People entrusted me with something … something that was rather uncertain at that time. We have managed to make it a reality and we did not disappoint them.”

He anticipates that it will take about eight years for Setia Eco Park to be fully developed. “We will not be aggressively launching future products  — maybe only one or two launches a year. It is time for our residents to enjoy Setia Eco Park — less construction activities means less supply in the market,” Koe says. The pioneer residents moved in back in March 2007.

Koe is clearly passionate about the development and is constantly finding ways to introduce new flora and fauna. Ducks and swans swim around the numerous lakes, and Koe points out different species of butterflies as he takes the team around. Up to 14 species have been identified so far, including the rare leopard butterflies.

In about two months, the Dog Park that spans close to one acre, will be completed. “Our residents are excited about the Dog Park ...  finally, a park built for their dogs’ enjoyment,” he says with a smile.

It is easy to imagine living here, taking a walk by the lakeside while looking out for an uncommon plant or maybe a squirrel, admiring the butterflies as they flit from flower to flower, and watching roses and sunflowers in bloom.

Koe points out that the roads are designed to be winding to slow down traffic as it has been observed that people tend to drive faster on straight roads.

Security is another priority. Security guards are on constant patrol and the gated and guarded development boasts a fibre optic fence protection system, integrated perimeter security to detect climbing and cutting, internal 24-hour security patrol and individual home alarm system with intercom and panic buttons linked to the central guardhouse.

House values have appreciated strongly since they were launched. Some semidees with built-ups of around 3,000 sq ft, launched at end-2006 for RM720,000, were recently transacted at RM1.3 million. Precinct 5, which consists of 32 units of semidees with rooftop gardens, were sold in 2007 for RM1.5 million but recent transactions saw units changing hands for around RM2.7 million to RM3 million, says Koe.

The take-up for recent launches here have also been very encouraging. During the latest soft launch on Oct 23, 70% of its 46 semidees and 17 bungalows were taken up. The semidees, priced from RM1.75 million to RM2.1 million have built-ups of between 2,800 and  3,500 sq ft while bungalows were tagged from RM2.75 million to RM4 million, with built-ups from 3,600 to 4,600 sq ft.

In Phase 8C, 74 units of semidees launched on Aug 8, saw a take-up of 95%. The semidees, priced from RM1.7 million, come with integrated solar photovoltaic panels and rainwater harvesting system.

Soon, Lakeview and Hillside Villas, the most expensive homes thus far in Setia Eco Park are to be launched. Overlooking the Garden of Fountains and within Precinct 5, the 16 bungalows have built-ups of 10,000 sq ft and  priced at RM7 million.

Last month, S P Setia launched the 240-acre Setia City, an integrated commercial hub at its Setia Alam township. All buildings within the RM5 billion hub will be certified by the Malaysian Green Building Index (GBI). Plans include a hotel, the Setia City Convention Centre, corporate towers, serviced apartments and the Setia City Mall. The mall, which is under construction, will have a total lettable area of 700,000 sq ft for the first phase, and major tenants include Parkson, Golden Screen Cinemas and a bowling centre operator.

While the developer is constantly adding value to its developments in Shah Alam, it looks like exciting times ahead for Setia Eco Park and Setia Alam.

This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 832, Nov 15-21, 2010

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