City&Country: Setting new heights in Ipoh

What usually comes to mind when one mentions Ipoh are the lovely limestone hills, the serene feel to the town and of course, great food. Just about a two-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur, it is becoming a popular spot for city folk to escape the hustle and bustle, especially on the weekends.

Soon, Ipoh will boast the tallest building in Perak when The Haven, a 26-storey condominium development in Bukit Tambun, is completed in about three years. Peter Chan, co-principal of developer The Haven Sdn Bhd, says the project will have a gross development value of RM230 million.

The developer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Superboom Projects Sdn Bhd.

There will be a total of three blocks with a total of 489 units built on 10-acre leasehold tract. Chan says another 10 acres will be retained for landscaping to blend in with the limestone hills and a 4-acre lake at the foothills of the hills.  

“The limestone hills beside the lake within the development are more than 280 million years old. We will also preserve the natural freshwater lake for residents to enjoy,” he tells City & Country. The developer also plans to use renewable energy resources such as wind, solar and water for water heating and lighting the common areas.

City & Country visited the site recently and found the view of the limestone hills and lake amidst the greens from the show units were picturesque and serene. Preliminary works on the site were on-going and the developer was enthusiastically confident on the response from the public on the development.

The site appears to be quiet, as no other developments (old or new), aside from the developer’s first project Permai Lake View Apartments a few hundred metres away, were in sight. The long, private drive to the site promises a sense of exclusivity to the project.

Chan believes Ipoh is under-rated: “It is a well-known secret that Ipoh is the best city in Malaysia to live in. Strategically located and easily accessible by land and air, we have five major hospitals, good education facilities, great food, good quality water, mature limestone hills and a rich history.” The Haven is situated next to Banjaran Hot Springs and the Lost World of Tambun, as well as Sunway Bhd’s township development Sunway City Ipoh.

Chan concedes that The Haven could be a challenging sell, given Ipoh home buyers’ preference for landed property because of the abundance of space and affordability of landed homes here. But he believes the project will do well and will be an exemplary high-rise project that will convince Ipoh-ites the qualities of condominium living.

“I believe a development sells itself, and we are selling based on values... we are filling a void in Ipoh, we are fulfilling the need of Ipoh people who want security and condo recreational facilities and people who are looking for vacation homes here. People who want to retire in Ipoh will hopefully also find The Haven will attract their children or grandchildren to spend more time with them,” he explains.

Chan says The Haven offers a higher quality development compared with other high-rise developments in the area: “They are usually rather conservative, run-of-the-mill developments and priced around RM280 psf. Very standard designs. Our development is about 10% higher in price, and we are offering more in terms of design, quality and facilities.”

The development will have all the facilities of an up-market condominium, including four swimming pools, a spa, a playground, restaurant, badminton court and a well-equipped gymnasium. There will not be tennis courts, though, as Chan says a survey showed most Malaysians do not play tennis, and that they prefer badminton.

Chan says rich Malaysians buy vacation homes in Singapore and may look to The Haven for their next holiday home. He says Cameron Highlands is too crowded on weekends, and while he loves Fraser’s Hill he says “there is not much happening there”.

“If we had chosen to build 60 bungalows on the site, there would only be 60 happy families. Building a condominium project here means a few hundred people will be happy living with nature here,” he says.
“We believe in selling our properties on a fair value basis. This way, our buyers can make money, or at least enjoy capital appreciation over the years,” he says. Chan says the local authorities recently approved the construction of a new 500m access road into the site, and it will be built soon. Since the sales gallery opened on Feb 14 and the preview on March 16, Chan says the response has been encouraging — about 30% take-up.

The Haven is easily accessible, less than 5km from the North-South Highway via the Tambun Interchange, and 10 minutes to the city. It is also close to golf courses such as The Royal Perak Golf Club, Meru Valley Golf & Country Club and Clearwater Sanctuary Golf Resort.

Buyers can choose from eight unit designs, excluding the penthouses. Sizes range from 893 sq ft to 2,840 sq ft, while the penthouses are 5,500 sq ft.

Chan says the average price per unit, at RM298 psf, is compatible with the Ipoh market. “Our designs are practical with no wasted corners or spaces... and some of our balconies are 8ft deep. Broadband access will be readily available as well.”

Chan is an Australian and he says he has had extensive property experience in New York, London, Singapore and Hong Kong, as well as managing properties in Australia.

He came to Malaysia 10 years ago as CEO of NV Multi Corp Bhd, where he remained for two years. In 2004, he went to Ipoh originally to help out a developer there, and the project became a joint venture. In 2007, he and his business partner David Yam, an engineer by profession, acquired the project site. The first development on the site is the Permai Lake View Apartments, located a few hundred metres away from The Haven. The low-cost Permai Lake View Apartments, nine blocks of 576 units with a GDV of RM32 million was launched in 2004.

Yam says units there were sold at RM55,000 during its launch, and recent transactions were at RM90,000. “Important factors for better capital appreciation include the design and management of the apartment,” he adds. Rentals for units there are at RM360 per month.

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

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