City&Country: Crest Builder riding the development wave in PJU

Petaling Jaya Utara, commonly known as PJU, is getting busier. New projects are sprouting in this growth area that includes popular addresses like Bandar Utama and Mutiara Damansara and spills over into Damansara Perdana and Kota Damansara.

altAmong the upcoming projects is a RM250 million mixed development by Crest Builder Holdings Bhd on a 4.25-acre leasehold site in Damansara Perdana, named Damansara One.

The project comprises three apartment blocks — two high-rise (with small units) and a low-rise (with bigger units), and four levels of boutique office space totalling 40 units atop the retail component on the ground floor.

The smaller apartments and the office suites are targeted at upper middle-income owner-occupiers, Crest Builder Holdings executive director Eric Yong tells City & Country. The apartments will be sized from 500 sq ft to 1,100 sq ft while the office suites range in size from 1,500 sq ft to 2,000 sq ft. The bigger apartments will offer built-ups of 1,300 sq ft to 1,400 sq ft.

The smaller units, Yong explains, will meet the needs of those who cannot afford the existing mostly large, upscale homes in Damansara Perdana. “The condos there are going for at least RM600,000 to RM700,000. So we are looking at smaller-sized units to cater for those looking for a Damansara/PJ address but who either don’t want or cannot afford the bigger units.”

The boutique office suites will be an option for those looking at setting up a business with a PJ address. “In Damansara Perdana there are currently only two options — shopoffices or the typical office suite. What we have is something different,” Yong says.

Depending on demand, he does not discount the possibility of converting the office suites into SoHo (small office home office) units.

Located near the PJ Trade Centre, Damansara One has direct frontage to Lebuhraya Damansara Puchong, although the access is from within Damansara Perdana.

Yong expects the project to receive the development order by the middle of next month. It will be launched in phases by end-August.

First to be put on the market will be the two high-rise apartment blocks, followed by the low-rise apartment block and the office suites in 4Q.

Yong says the company is talking with some parties interested in taking up units on several floors of the apartment blocks for conversion into a serviced residence or hotel.

“We noticed that the hotels in the area enjoy very high occupancy rates, so our small units have the potential to be converted into serviced residences catering for families,” says Yong.

Neighbourhood mall
Crest Builder is looking to provide a neighbourhood mall in the ground floor retail podium that has a gross floor area of 160,000 sq ft.

The developer sees the mall catering not only to the needs of Damansara One residents but also those in the Damansara Perdana area.

“The population of Damansara Perdana is massive, but I believe the shops there now are not filling peoples’ needs … the shops there are quite quiet at night. The residents generally head to Mutiara Damansara, causing congestion. So, instead of having to go to a busy place we will offer them an alternative that is just around the corner,” Yong says.

He sees nice pubs and restaurants attracting the busy working crowd. “We look at today’s working crowd ... they are actually too busy and have no time for dinner, drinks and leisure. So here they can come home to have drinks and dinner downstairs and then head upstairs to turn in for the night.”

To help control the tenant mix, the developer plans to sell the retail units with confirmed tenants. “It is still too early to talk to the tenants now, but we are confident that we can secure them,” he says, adding that the project will have 1,500 parking bays.

Yong says the indicative prices of the apartments and offices are in the affordable range of RM300 to RM450 psf, with the ground floor retail units to be priced slightly higher.

Crest Builder is also busy in Shah Alam where it is building the freehold Alam Hijau. The first two phases of the project, comprising 1,085 medium and medium low-cost apartments, were sold through Syarikat Perumahan Negara Bhd for RM147 million 2½ years ago.

The third phase, comprising a block of 300 serviced apartments on a 2.7-acre site, is currently more than 60% sold following a soft launch last November. The built-ups range from 800 sq ft to 1,200 sq ft while the ground floor has a retail space of 40,000 sq ft. It is scheduled for official launch in August.

Phase 4, comprising shop offices, retail units and an office tower will only be put on the market next year for the critical mass to build up. Meanwhile, the developer plans to soft-launch Phase 5, a RM95 million boutique office development with office suites of 600 sq ft to 800 sq ft, by the middle of the year. “This will be like UOA Bangsar. I think many people in the Klang Valley are looking for a proper office outlook and don’t want shop offices … so we are offering them this. It is a stratified office and we are targeting professionals and consultancy offices. The design is modular so they can renovate and combine two units,” Yong says.

Other projects
Meanwhile, the developer has put on hold till  the end of next year the launch of Kiara Crest — a 38-storey luxury tower housing 178 condominiums with floor space of 2,000 sq ft to 2,600 sq ft — in Mont’Kiara due to Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur’s (DBKL) concerns about oversupply.

Yong says the plans have been submitted, but DBKL is in the process of improving the area’s infrastructure. He says the company is not in a hurry to launch the project because it has virtually zero holding costs.

altIn Kelana Jaya in Petaling Jaya, the developer recently completed piling for the 1.82-acre freehold Tierra Crest. The office tower, with a net lettable area of 280,000 sq ft, will be leased for recurring income. To be completed by mid-2012, the RM140 million project has only two units per floor. Each unit has a built-up of 8,000 sq ft.

“We are looking at a garden concept. We will introduce some green features and most probably we will go for GBI [Green Building Index] to attract multinational corporations,” he says.

Crest Builder completed its maiden project three years ago — the leasehold RM280 million 3 Two Square in Section 19, Petaling Jaya. The 5.5-acre commercial project features a 13-storey office tower, 199 office suites and 38 retails lots on land acquired for RM32 million in 2003.

The office tower at 3 Two Square is 93% occupied. The developer is currently in talks with an electrical service and retail centre to take up the ground floor office unit.  Yong expects the deal to be sealed soon.
In the meantime, it is also in preliminary talks with two other “service-based” companies for the lease of the space.

What’s next?
Crest Builder is looking to expand its landbank as its current undeveloped tracts in Shah Alam, Mont’Kiara and Damansara Perdana add up to under 20 acres. It is eyeing land in the Klang Valley, especially Petaling Jaya.

It likes quick-turnaround projects that minimise holding costs. The company’s business model is to go for niche developments in mature areas.

In Petaling Jaya, Yong particularly likes industrial areas like Section 13,14 and 19 and the nearby Jalan 222 which the authorities have identified for redevelopment.

On whether Crest Builder will venture overseas or into large-scale projects, Yong says the company will first embark on a brand-building exercise to create awareness of its quality products.

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

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