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City&Country: Green shops at KEN Rimba

KEN Holdings Bhd managing director Kenny Tan and his son, Sam, who is executive director, do not believe in doing things by halves. At KEN Rimba in Section 16 Shah Alam, the duo is not only developing the country’s first green township, but is also creating an address for green-related businesses.

KEN Rimba Commercial Centre (KRCC) has the distinction of being the first shopoffice development in the country to receive the Singapore Building and Construction Authority (BCA) Green Mark Certified (Provisional) Award.

“Even the Singapore government was surprised that we would spend the money to get the project green-rated. But that’s our philosophy, we are going green in everything we do, so we have to walk the talk,” says Sam.

The 2- and 3-storey shopoffices at KRCC have been designed with passive considerations — minimising west-facing façades and providing good, natural ventilation. The roof has also been designed to reduce heat transmittance to the units, increasing indoor comfort and reducing the cooling load for air-conditioners. In addition, the shopoffices will also be finished with low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paint, he says.

The commercial development boasts 109 units of shopoffices with prices starting from RM880,000. The developer plans to keep all end and corner lots, as well as units adjacent to them, for leasing.
The first phase of KRCC, comprising 34 units of 2-storey intermediate shopoffices, were sold via invitation and ballot in October. The remaining 43 units were launched in November and 80% have been sold.

Indeed, apart from the environment-friendly features of the property, the developer is excited about the prospect of creating a vibrant commercial centre for the freehold township. This is why it decided to retain the 32 units for lease. Explaining their rationale, Tan senior says while shop units are among the first properties to be snapped up within a township, “many remain empty with the ‘for sale or for rent’ sign”. “Here we want to attract tenants that can add value to the township and ensure that there is vibrancy,” he says.

The same approach was taken at an earlier development in Seri Kembangan. Tan says because KEN Holdings retained a majority of the corner shops, it was able to control the tenant mix. As a result, not only is the area thriving but property values have also doubled from the launch price of RM650,000 in 2002 to RM1.2 million today.

Sam adds that it would have been easy to dispose of the units at KRCC, especially since holding on to the units meant forgoing sales of about RM40 million. “People were even willing to pay a premium, but we chose to hold on to these units, and see it as an investment on our part… we’re sacrificing short-term gains and are focusing on the longer term,” he says, adding that like the owner of a well-positioned shopping mall, KEN Holdings’ goal is to control the tenant mix for the commercial centre.

Some of the tenants targeted include banks, F&B outlets, clinics and neighbourhood grocery stores. To take its green steps further, the developer is also looking at leasing the units to green-related businesses at a discount in support of green products, technologies and industry. “We hope to make the commercial centre a kind of ‘green incubator’; by offering rents at a discount, we hope to attract start-ups in the green business. At the end of the day we hope that our efforts will spur a green economy here,” Sam says.

Winning buyers with the green concept
In order to build  Malaysia’s first green township, KEN Holdings’ plan is to have all the components green-rated. Apart from the commercial centre, KEN Rimba Legian has also received a green rating from BCA. The guarded development comprising 328 2-storey terraced houses has been given the BCA Green Mark Gold (Provisional) Award, thanks to its passive designs with a majority of the units north- and south-facing. Each unit is also equipped with two rainwater-harvesting tanks for use in irrigation and car washing, while a skylight offers natural lighting.

The units, on 20-foot by 65-foot lots, are pegged from RM455,000. To date, 90% of them have been sold, discloses the developer. Buyers include those from surrounding Shah Alam addresses and nearby Klang, as well as those attracted to the project’s location, accessibility and freehold tenure.

Besides direct access via major highways like Kesas, New Klang Valley Expressway and Federal Highway, the Padang Jawa KTM Komuter station is within walking distance. “We have it all,  freehold tenure, our location and the price … that we are green is a bonus,” says Sam.

He points out that while the green features may not be KEN Rimba’s main attraction, the hope is that by exposing buyers and potential buyers to the green features on offer, they will see their value. “We want to change their mindset of what to expect in a home, that it should be bright and the spaces well planned,” he says.

He adds that buyers of KEN Rimba Legian have been giving positive feedback. “They like the green concept, that it’s naturally lit, that it’s well ventilated and that there are no redundant areas because the space has been well planned.”

On its plans, Sam says KEN Holdings will embark on the second phase of its landed neighbourhood at KEN Rimba in 1Q2011. The 168 units of 2-storey terraced houses will boast enhanced designs and green features. The indicative price for the units is about RM500,000. The developer also plans to launch the first phase of its high-rise residential project at KEN Rimba in 2Q2011.

Over in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, the developer hopes to start work on its office tower project, KEN TTDI in Jalan Burhanuddin Helmi, soon. An excited Ken Tan says the project, which will house KEN Holdings’ headquarters, will be a “real eye opener” as it aims to set a new standard where green buildings are concerned.

In addition, KEN Holdings also has a green boutique hotel on the drawing board. It is currently looking for hotel operators who would be interested in realising the green project, which will be located in Batu Ferringhi, Penang.

This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 837, Dec 20-26, 2010

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