City&Country: A new dimension in living

Experience life in the fourth dimension? What on earth, you may ask? Well, that’s the tagline for the Hypercubes Lounge, the second sky lounge at the first fully-furnished designer condo suites in Malaysia — Verve Suites in Mont’Kiara,Kuala Lumpur.

When it comes to its developer Bukit Kiara Properties (BKP), one has come to expect the unexpected. After wowing the market with the Vertigo Sky Lounge — its first sky lounge atop Viva Tower (Block A), the first of four blocks in Verve Suites — the Hypercubes Lounge at Vibe Tower, or Block B, provides an entirely different “oomph” so to speak.

Unlike the Vertigo Sky Lounge, which is more open and communal in nature, the Hypercubes Lounge of Vibe Tower offers inter-connected activity hubs or “cubes” where occupants can indulge in different recreational activities in a more personal environment.

“We want to create more intimate spaces where friends and family can hang out. The cube is three-dimensional, and the fourth dimension is what you do within it,” BKP group managing director N K Tong tells City & Country at a sneak preview.

At the Hypercubes Lounge, one is mainly surrounded by glass and the open sky, so you can soak in the views while lazing in the sun or under the stars, taking a dip or enjoying a cozy meal with friends. Even the toilets are clad in glass from top to bottom (one-way glass of course), making it quite a conversation piece in itself.

Sprawling 5,000 sq ft, the sky lounge on the 27th floor comprises the Hyperpool where swimming in the azure waters of the 20-metre infinity pool offers you a bird’s eye view of Mont’ Kiara; the Hypergames room complete with a pool table, a soccer table and console facilities for video or Play Station games; and the very elegant Hyperdine area for more formal and romantic dining under the stars at night. On hot sunny afternoons, it is shielded from the glare by a perforated metal sky roof with whimsical stars and a metal sunscreen that slides into place at the push of a button.

Just across from Hyperdine is the state-of-the-art Hyperkitchen with designer Gaggenau kitchen solutions that any top chef would feel right at home in.

For a more cozy setting, there are two Hyperchill rooms where one can just watch a movie or unwind in the private Jacuzzi for two while the world passes by below. If there are more than two of you, head over to the larger Jacuzzi at the Hyperspa.

When completed in 2014, Verve Suites’s four towers — Viva, Vibe, Vogue and Vox — will have an estimated GDV of RM530 million. The unique selling point of this project on 5.87 acres of freehold land is that the developer has decided to give up the prime penthouse spaces for common use.

So, every block boasts a sky lounge on the topmost floors, each with its own identity and unique features. The sky lounge areas are in addition to the full condo facilities of swimming pools, tennis courts, playground and others already available on the common facilities podium in each tower.

In terms of design, each sky lounge will appeal to different senses and different activities. “Residents of Verve Suites will get to enjoy all four sky lounges eventually,” says Tong, adding that it cost the developer some RM3.2 million to create the Hypercubes Lounge.

At the completed Viva block, the open concept Vertigo Sky Lounge and Sky Terrace on the 35th and 36th floors often invite “oohs and aahs” with its breath-taking panoramic view of the KL skyline and more. In contrast, Vibe’s Hypercubes Lounge offers more private recreational spaces contained within modern and stylish “cubes”.

Completion of Vogue (Block C) is targeted for next year. The sky lounge on the 31st floor will be a lush garden sanctuary featuring the Gardens of Concentrico, comprising an open-air Cinema Paradiso, the Podium Panorama, Aqua Gym, and Dinner Al-Fresco. Elaborating on these will require another story altogether.

So, what design concept surprise does the developer have for the Vox tower, the final block of the project? Tong is not telling, except that it will be “revolutionary” and that they have “saved the best for last”. The concept has been derived from “some crazy idea” that popped up from the developer’s brainstorming and mind-mapping sessions, he adds.

Viva and Vibe Towers, launched in 2006 and 2007 respectively, were fully sold. Vogue (Block C) unveiled in 2008, is more than 90% taken up.

Viva Tower was handed over last November, and of the 240 units, 70 have been occupied. The developer is currently putting the finishing touches to Vibe Tower, comprising 188 units, with completion in the third quarter of the year. Vogue, comprising 255 units, is expected to be completed by the end of next year.

Vox will be launched sometime in the second half of the year, and Tong says they are “still working on the pricing”. Word in the market has it that it will be at about RM1,400 or so psf. In comparison, Viva was launched at an average RM600 psf, Vibe at an average of RM700 psf and Vogue (2008) at RM930 psf.

On the secondary market, a Viva unit was recently transacted at as high as RM900 psf. Those units rented out are giving the owners a gross yield of 7% to 9%, says Tong.

It must be noted that these fully-furnished units are modest in size, rendering them relatively affordable. The Viva and Vibe unit sizes range between 633 and 1,236 sq ft while the Vogue units are from 463 to 932 sq ft. The upcoming Vox units will be similarly modest in size.

Mont’ Kiara condo market
Following the property market slowdown due to the global financial crisis, the Mont’Kiara high-rise residential market has become a lot more competitive. On the flip side, the area, known as a high-end expat enclave, is now more affordable and attractive to locals. “While tenants tended to be mostly expats in the past, we now see more locals, which tells me that people are moving into the neighbourhood,” notes Tong.

Tong says Verve Suites has held its own even during the slowdown mainly due to its affordability and the living concept it offers.

“You pay the same amount but you get something different, including having fully-furnished units and facilities like the sky lounges. So in a way, the slowdown benefited us.”

Currently about 20% to 25% of buyers at Viva are owner-occupiers. The maintenance fee is about RM200 for a 600 sq ft unit.

Tong says, interestingly, some buyers who had intended to rent out their units have since changed their minds and turned them into their own weekend homes. “This was when they could see the living concepts we talked about become reality, such as the Vertigo Sky Lounge.

“It is not about buying a piece of real estate in Mont’Kiara but buying into the living concept. So it is truly a lifestyle play where everyone wants a piece of the action,” he says.

Adjoining the Verve Suites is the neighbourhood-themed Verve Shops which will be ready in two years. The first phase with over 40,000 sq ft already has a Certificate of Fitness and currently houses the BKP show gallery and show units. The second phase of 20,000 sq ft will be ready in tandem with the construction of Vox. The retail space is for lease only and BKP is looking at tenants from the F & B and services sectors.

Beyond Mont’Kiara
BKP will be launching a condo project called Ambangan on an acre-odd parcel in Persiaran Madge, Ampang, towards the end of this year. Plans are currently in an advanced stage of approval. “In every project, our focus is on the planning — the layout, the functionality of the interior —so we will do the same for this project. There will only be 19 units, and considering the area, these will be large units of 3,500 sq ft within a very intimate and private environment aimed at owner-occupiers. Once again, the facilities will be extraordinary,” says Tong with a smile. Another condo project on Jalan Tun Razak which is likely to be Verve Suites KL, is being planned for launch next year.

This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 798, Mar22 - 28, 2010

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