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City&Country: Sunway Geo berths at lakeside town

It’s raining a little, but do you mind if we have our interview on the yacht?” Ho Hon Sang, Sunway Bhd managing director of property development, Malaysia, asks City & Country.

“The yacht” is known as The South Quay Princess, a charming 77-footer docked on a 28-acre lake at the centre of the luxurious 178-acre, RM5 billion Sunway South Quay (SSQ) high-end development in Bandar Sunway, Selangor.

Despite the chilly, damp morning and overcast skies, the steward of Sunway’s Malaysian property developments struck a jaunty pose by the pier, sans coat, “for that relaxed vacation feel” as he puts it.

During the cruise, Ho points out a densely vegetated site — “See that? It will come up over there, facing Sunway Medical Centre along Jalan Lagoon Selatan” — which will house SSQ’s latest addition, the retail and commercial component newly christened as Sunway Geo.

Sunway Geo will take up a 23.4-acre tract in one of SSQ’s quadrants to the right of the A’marine, LaCosta and Nautica condos from the main entrance of the upscale enclave in the larger Sunway Integrated Resort City.

The area is served by six highways, namely the New Pantai Expressway (NPE), Federal Highway, North Klang Valley Expressway, Damansara-Puchong Highway, Shah Alam Expressway (Kesas) and the North-South Expressway Central Link (Elite).

To enhance accessibility, there will be a new elevated connection to the NPE and a slip road from the Kesas.

“We plan to have a mini integrated development here where there is proper linkage between the residential and commercial areas,” Ho explains. Sunway Geo’s total gross development value (GDV) is RM1.85 billion, comprising shops, office suites, serviced apartments, an office tower and two condominiums.

The 10.01-acre Phase 1 will comprise retail units, office suites and an office tower. The retail units and office suites housed in a gleaming, glassy structure have a GDV of RM405 million. Ho says the group is currently holding on to the office tower.

“There will be four storeys of office suites on top of the three-storey shops, so they are not imposing,” says Ho.

Improving on Sunway Giza’s semi-outdoor experience
There will be 31 three-storey shops with an average built-up of 5,200 sq ft and an indicative starting price of RM6.5 million. The retail portion will have a net floor area of 186,000 sq ft.

There will be three rows of shops — one will face Sunway Medical Centre along Jalan Lagoon Selatan while the other two will face the 500m-long central boulevard for a more relaxed, outdoor retail ambience, says Ho.

The shops will be shielded by a solid canopy with a huge skylight that allows in natural lighting and ventilation, reducing energy use,  he adds.

He says SSQ’s retail element is conceptualised as an improved version of its Sunway Giza semi-outdoor mall in Kota Damansara.

“In Sunway Giza, to get to the upper floors of the individual retail blocks, you have to take the stairs inside the shops. This time, the shops will be connected at every level through covered walkways and you can also take the escalator to different floors from outside the shops,” he explains.

Ho notes several advantages of this retail format. “If you go to regular shops at night, there is no parking so you end up double and triple-parking, causing jams. Here you don’t have to do that, and when it rains you also don’t have to scramble for your umbrella. So it’s a different style of shopping and experience.”

The developer plans to offer up to 2,874 parking bays, including over 1,000 basement parking bays, once all the retail and commercial portions are completed.

Ho says the retail component is poised to tap into an estimated catchment of 245,000 people. This includes the expected 12,000 residents of SSQ when it is completed in 2020.

There are an estimated 33,000 students from nearby Sunway University, Monash University, Sunway International School, The One Academy and Taylor’s University. Ho adds that Bandar Sunway is also home to 200,000 residents.

This catchment excludes some 37.5 million visitors to Sunway Integrated Resort City — comprising Sunway Pyramid mall, Sunway Lagoon theme park and Sunway Resort, Hotel & Spa — annually, says Ho.

The retail section may also attract people from Subang Jaya and Puchong, he adds.

Ho says the group plans to maintain some 100,000 sq ft of space in Phase 2 and is eyeing both local and foreign anchor tenants.

While there is no specific preference for tenants, Ho has suggestions for what prospective owner-occupiers and tenants can offer.

“[Sunway Geo] can be considered a local centre for the expected population of 12,000 within SSQ [upon its completion]. There is the medical centre nearby, so one can offer something medical-related, something complementary,” he says.

“Then there are colleges, universities and schools here, so I hope owners or tenants will take the opportunity to do something education-related.”

Ho observes that there is a sizeable number of international students attending the above-mentioned universities and colleges.

“They want places that are neat and clean. I believe that [the new retail development] will be a crowd-puller. I believe that young people especially like to go to these places instead of coffee shops. I think their buying power is better than [that of young people during] our time, so I think F&B outlets will be able to work well.”

Office suites
The first phase of Sunway Geo will also feature 213 office suites atop the retail podium in a sloping glassy structure designed to embrace the podium’s rooftop eco-deck. There will be 144,000 sq ft of net office space.

“This cascading design is outstanding. Of course, it looks architectural and provides something that has not been found in Sunway before,” says Ho.

The suites have an average built-up of 650 sq ft and an indicative price of RM500,000 onwards.
“There is a toilet [in each suite]. The suites have no partitions — they can be flexible but you cannot live there,” says Ho.

Sunway expects to hold a soft launch for phase 1 of Sunway Geo sometime in late April or early May. Ho says approvals have been secured and construction is expected to begin “anytime soon”.
Phases that were launched earlier within the lakeside development are BayRocks villas and three condos, namely Nautica, A’marine and most recently, LaCosta.

The latter comprised 377 units with built-ups from 1,302 to 3,226 sq ft. Prices start from RM900,000.

Buyers of these homes mainly comprise working adults, young professionals, businessmen, corporate figures, couples and foreigners. The population of SSQ is a mix of locals and foreigners from Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore, Japan, the UK and China.

So far, 77 villas and 259 units of Nautica have been completed,  making up 30% of SSQ.

In the pipeline
Sunway plans to launch a new project and several phases of ongoing projects valued at RM665.8 million this year. Phase 2 of Sunway Eastwood in Seri Kembangan, Selangor, will launch in May. Known as Park Residence, it will comprise link houses on a 4.59-acre tract with an estimated GDV of RM80 million.

Meanwhile, Sunway Velocity’s designer office suites are scheduled to be launched sometime in 2Q. This phase has an estimated GDV of RM187 million and will occupy 1.46 acres within the integrated commercial freehold development at Jalan Cochrane in Kuala Lumpur.

The first phase of the Sunway Wellesley freehold commercial development in Bukit Mertajam, Penang, is planned for launch in September. Phase 1 will be known as Wellesley Avenue and will comprise three-storey shopoffices that echo the concept of Sunway Geo and Sunway Giza. 

The 29 shopoffices will have built-ups of 3,815 to 4,270 sq ft and land areas of 1,300 to 1,460 sq ft with a minimum price of RM1 million. Wellesley Avenue’s estimated GDV is RM32.8 million.

Two of Sunway’s residential projects in the Klang Valley — Phase 2 of Sunway Montana in Desa Melawati, Kuala Lumpur, and Phase 2C of Sunway Alam Suria in Shah Alam — will be launched in October.

Sunway Montana’s Phase 2 will comprise courtyard villas, semi-detached houses and townhouses on over 13.34 acres of freehold land. The project has an estimated GDV of RM258 million.

Meanwhile, Sunway Alam Suria’s Phase 2C will cover 8.4 acres of leasehold land and will have an estimated GDV of RM108 million.

Going back to SSQ, Ho says Sunway is looking at launching the first condo in Sunway Geo in 3Q. As the group is in the midst of obtaining approvals for the project, he cannot divulge more details.
“We have to depend on the response to the first phase [shops and office suites] first because we cannot flood the market,” Ho says.

This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 906, April 16-22, 2012

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