City&Country: Laman Ceylon targets young professionals

The property market’s cautious turn of late has not deterred Eminent Ace Sdn Bhd from launching  Laman Ceylon, upscale serviced apartments befitting the well-heeled Bukit Ceylon neighbourhood in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

The development’s buyers are ready to buck the trend of a softer property market with over 55% of the units snapped up following its launch on Nov 19 and 20, including three floors, or over 30 units, taken up by a group of investors/buyers.

“Most of the buyers are locals, except for a number from Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong,” says FKH Holdings Sdn Bhd head of property Cheah Siew Mun. FKH Holdings is the holding company of Eminent Ace.

Over 40% of the units were taken up prior to the launch. The encouraging sales came just two weeks after Laman Ceylon opened for booking at end-October and over a month after the developers began advertising the project online, says Cheah.

Sandwiched between Tan & Tan Developments Bhd’s Menara Bukit Ceylon and Bolton Bhd’s Sixceylon, Laman Ceylon is a 21-storey serviced-apartment block on a 0.8-acre freehold commercial plot, says Cheah. Its 230 units range from 624 to 1,604 sq ft and come with one, two or three bedrooms and one or 2+1 bathrooms. They cost RM701,800 to RM1.89 million per unit, or RM1,124 psf.

The units are, in Cheah’s words, “substantially furnished” with shoe cabinets, built-in wardrobes, air-conditioning systems and ceiling-down light fittings. Some units also come with kitchen cabinets and worktops, induction hobs, refrigerators, wine chillers and ovens.

The facilities include a nursery, gymnasium, yoga room, driver’s room, laundrette room, function room, meeting room, reading room, party deck, pool deck, floating pavilion, swimming pool, children’s swimming pool and landscaped areas on floors one and six.

Two of the project’s most outstanding features are its grand lobby and pick-up area, which will showcase a ceiling-length water curtain, luxurious furnishings and a glass floor with a stream running below it, as well as a four-tiered security system.

“Due to the location and variety of sizes, our target market is mainly young professionals who are working in the city area and young couples. Some of them are just back from overseas and are working in the city centre, so these units are most ideal and convenient for them.

“We also have 43 three-bedroom apartments, which will cater for larger families such as expatriates posted to Kuala Lumpur who bring their families with them,” says Eminent Ace head of marketing and sales Mark Wong.

Eminent Ace had bought the land from the Tan family in 2008 for RM32 million, says Wong. Laman Ceylon has a gross development value (GDV) of RM277 million. Development was supposed to have begun in 2009 but was delayed due to protests by residents at Bukit Ceylon. “The residents protested because they did not want the area to be densely built. The basic concerns stem from traffic and car parks.

“After consultation with the people and the authorities, we finally decided to put more parking bays [373 bays] into our development. After the allocations to the purchasers, we now have over 50 extra bays, which we can either give back to the management corporation as visitors’ parking bays or sell to our individual purchasers as extra parking bays.

“The smaller units under 1,000 sq ft come with one parking bay, and the larger ones with two bays. The medium-sized ones come with tandem bays — one at the front and one at the back,” says Wong. If Eminent Ace decides to sell the bays, they are expected to be priced at about RM15,000 per bay.

Track record
While Laman Ceylon is Eminent Ace’s maiden project, it is by no means the first property development by FKH Holdings, which was founded by three former Zelan Bhd heads, namely former CEO Albert Chang, former Zelan Construction Sdn Bhd managing director Lam Kar Keong and former Zelan Corp Sdn Bhd managing director Tan Cheng Huat.

The group’s previous projects are the upscale 7 U Thant, a 24-unit condominium project at Embassy Row in the heart of KL and the commercial Kelana Mall development in Kelana Jaya. They were undertaken by subsidiaries Eminent Gardens Sdn Bhd and Rayon Development Sdn Bhd respectively. “Every time we get a piece of land, we will set up a subsidiary to develop it,” says FKH Holdings’ Cheah.

The low-density 7 U Thant condominium was completed last year and is already sold out. The units ranged from 3,600 to 4,800 sq ft and were priced at an average of RM1,000 psf, bringing the GDV of the development to RM103 million. Kelana Mall was completed at end-2008 and has a GDV of RM50 million. The strata-titled shops were sold to individual buyers.

Currently, FKH Holdings is helping owners of empty lots to find tenants, says Cheah. Kelana Mall’s occupancy has fallen to 60% after Universiti Tun Abdul Razak moved out last year. “We are targeting more high-end tenants, like food franchises,” adds Cheah.

Apart from its property business, the group also owns a 2,600-acre oil palm plantation in Gua Musang, Kelantan, with trees that are approximately four to five years old.

Upcoming projects
FKH Holdings has two projects in the pipeline, namely a mixed-use development in Cyberjaya and a township in Plumpton in New South Wales, Australia.

The Cyberjaya project will comprise small office/home office (SoHo) units, serviced apartments, a retail mall and a hotel. It will cover 9.4 acres of freehold commercial land and will be developed in four phases. The first phase will entail a three-level street mall and a block of SoHos that will stand at 10 to 16 storeys. Phase two tentatively will feature a two-level retail podium and 28 levels of serviced apartments. The final phase will provisionally have an 11-storey hotel and a 15-storey block of office suites.

In total, the estimated gross floor area of the development is pegged at 2.13 million sq ft, while the net saleable area is 1.68 million sq ft. The SoHos make up the bulk of this space at 502,000 sq ft, followed by the serviced apartments at 336,000 sq ft. The office suites are expected to take up 252,000 sq ft, the street mall 220,000 sq ft, the retail space 200,000 sq ft and the hotel 168,000 sq ft.

“Cyberjaya is a hot area now, and in fact there are already many developers buying up land. With the government’s focus and support to promote the area, and also with the government administrative centre [Putrajaya] in the area, I believe there is a lot of potential in Cyberjaya.
“We will have to watch very closely over the next two years to see whether there is going to be an oversupply [of serviced apartments and SoHos] in Cyberjaya. We believe we can actually try to target or do products that are slightly more saleable like SoHos where the entry price is lower,” says Cheah.

Meanwhile, the Australian township will be named Plumpton Gardens. It will come up in the agricultural Plumpton area in New South Wales, which is in the midst of a rezoning exercise by the government. “We bought the land in March from a private vendor for A$9.5 million. We have a partner named Pinnacle Development Group Pvt Ltd in Australia, which is our business associate,” he says.

The project is expected to have a GDV of A$47 million (RM154 million), and it will comprise landed homes. As the rezoning is still in progress, the project will likely only take off in 2013 and thus, the project’s details have not been firmed up yet, says Cheah.

FKH Holdings is on the lookout for more land, including in Penang island and the mainland, in Iskandar Malaysia in Johor and the Greater Klang Valley, says Cheah. The group is currently in talks with potential vendors but nothing has been firmed up yet, he adds.

This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 886, Nov 28-Dec 4, 2011

Looking for properties to buy or rent? With >150,000 exclusive listings, including undervalued properties, from vetted Pro Agents, you can now easily find the right property on Malaysia's leading property portal EdgeProp! You can also get free past transacted data and use our proprietary Edge Reference Price tool, to make an informed purchase.