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City&Country: TA Global set to unlock value of landbank

TA Global Bhd, the recently listed property arm of stockbroking firm TA Enterprise Bhd, is looking to unlock the value of its landbank with the launch of property developments that have an estimated gross development value (GDV) of RM1.9 billion over the next few years.

Known for having purchased land as a way of preserving the wealth gained from the super stock market bull runs in the early 1990s, the developer is said to be one of the largest land and property owners in Kuala Lumpur’s KLCC area, including Menara TA One in Jalan P Ramlee and the adjacent plots known as TA3 and TA4 that are currently used as car parks.

TA Global owns a total of 68.88 acres of prime land in KL and Petaling Jaya as well as 1,145.5 acres in other parts of the country. Within the KLCC and its adjacent areas alone, it has 7.56 acres of undeveloped land. The developer was one of the largest property counters on the Main Market of Bursa Malaysia in terms of market capitalisation when it was listed in November last year.

After a relatively quiet year in the property market due to the global financial crisis, TA Global plans to launch projects worth RM345 million this year on expectations of a market recovery, while new projects worth more than half a billion ringgit have been planned for next year. It also hopes to double the value of its project launches in 2012, TA Global director Datin Alicia Tiah tells City & Country.

Among the projects in the pipeline until 2011 are Damansara Avenue in Bandar Sri Damansara, a medium to high-end project in Kuala Lumpur’s Dutamas, and condos and urban villas in U-Thant.

However, it is tweaking its plans for various projects that will be launched from 2012, including a luxury high-end project in Ukay Heights, a mixed commercial development on the TA3 and TA4 land and its Nova Square project in Bukit Bintang. It also owns a parcel of  land in Ceylon Hill.

It is currently developing the 40-acre Damansara Idaman, a low-density freehold residential project next to Tropicana Golf and Country Resort. One of the developer’s previous projects is Idaman Residence, a luxurious condominium project on a 1.45-acre tract in the KLCC area.

Damansara Avenue
altOne project that will be unveiled soon is Damansara Avenue, an upscale mixed development spanning some 48 acres of freehold commercial land in Bandar Sri Damansara, which was acquired at RM95 psf in February 2006.

The developer will introduce an eco-friendly concept for the RM3.8 billion project formerly known as Seri Suria. It will comprise low-rise and high-rise residential apartments, SoHo suites, offices, retail and F&B outlets, a hotel, community centre and mall, to be developed around a seven-acre linear park accessible to the public. This is the developer’s largest project thus far.

“We want to put in a lot of open space and greenery, with a lot of space for the family to exercise and play together … We want to emphasise the importance of having family time together. Also, with the 750m linear park that connects the whole project, residents can actually walk or cycle around the area,” says Tiah, who is also TA Enterprise managing director and chief executive.

The developer will use a rainwater harvest system, low voltage lights, natural lighting and cross ventilation features in the project. However, it has not decided whether to apply for the Green Building Index (GBI) certification due to the higher cost involved.

Besides the linear park, each residential plot will have its own green space, thus doubling the green space from the 10% required by the authorities.

“I believe this development will change the portfolio of the whole area, including the living environment and ambience … we are putting in a lot of money to do the infrastructure and the park, which will enhance the value of the property.

“The beauty of this project is that we will have both a day crowd and a night crowd. We have the office crowd in the morning, and we will have residents from the development and the surrounding areas at night. You have that support and your retail component will be vibrant,” Tiah says.

There will also be security features such as high-resolution cameras in the car park area and lift lobbies as well as guards on patrol.

Damansara Avenue will take 10 years to complete. The residential component will be developed in five phases, while the commercial component will depend on market demand. Upon full completion, the whole project is expected to have 1,500 households.

TA Global plans to bring the project to market in August, with the launch of Parcel 1G — lifestyle retail and office suites housed in an 8-storey building on a 5.73-acre tract in the northern part of the development. The RM190 million development will have 44 retail/F&B outlets and 198 office suites.
The retail/F&B outlets will occupy the bottom two levels, while the two highest levels will be duplex SoHos. The four levels of office suites will be from the second to fifth floors.

The retail/F&B outlets will be 1,700 to 2,500 sq ft in size, while the office suites will have built-ups of 600 to 2,500 sq ft. These units have an indicative average selling price of RM400 to RM450 psf. The office suite component will be sold, but the developer plans to retain the retail outlets in strategic locations.
According to Tiah, the building will have dual frontage. One side will face the main road, Persiaran Perdana, while the other will face the linear park.

“They are hybrid shoplots and do not have staircases, so they are very flexible, one can combine a few lots. We laid out this component to suit the park. The retail is ideal for F&B because we have open terraces. It is unlike the conventional shop. This is definitely lacking in this area. You can come down and have a drink and enjoy the nice scenery,” Tiah notes.

She adds that the one-level basement car park with 700 to 800 parking bays at Parcel 1G will be connected with lifts and escalators.

In October, TA Global will launch the RM155 million Phase 1A serviced apartments component, which will comprise 243 units with sizes of 600 to 2,200 sq ft. Phase 1A will be located next to the retail/office suites, separated by the linear park.

The 8-storey low-rise block will offer bigger units, while the 30-storey high-rise tower will have smaller units. Although the low-rise block will be closer to the highway, several measures will be taken to reduce the noise from the Lebuhraya Puchong-Damansara (LDP). The key areas like the living room, dining room and bedrooms will be at the front, while the kitchen, yard area and back of the house will face the highway.

These units will also have double-glazed windows. Lush landscaping with water features and noise reduction walls will also be built.

“You can sit on the balcony and look at the linear park. Many of the high-rise units have double volume space and we provide a hotel-type lobby. We will let our regular buyers preview the units next month,” Tiah says.

Damansara Avenue is targeted at the developer’s existing buyers, empty nesters and those looking to upgrade, particularly within the catchment areas of PJ north, she adds.

“I am sure a lot of people want to invest in this area because it is really coming up. Across the highway, Desa ParkCity is doing very well and a lot of upper-middle or middle class people live there.

“This area has many access points, such as the LDP and NKVE (North Klang Valley Expressway). There are many purpose-built buildings along the highway,” Tiah notes. In the second half of next year, TA Global will launch Damansara Avenue Phase 1B apartments, with a GDV of RM146 million, on a 3.11-acre site.

Launches in 2011
Next year will be exciting for TA Global as some RM550 million worth of launches have been planned, including a niche luxury development in the U-Thant area.

altScheduled for launch in the middle of next year, the RM106 million freehold town villas and condominium project on a 1.4-acre plot in U-Thant will see the development of 22 condo units and six town villas.
The condo units will have built-ups of 1,800 to 2,500 sq ft, while the town villas will have built-ups of 5,500 sq ft. This project, Tiah says, is to brand TA Global as a niche developer.

“It is going to be a very high-end project … We want to make a name for ourselves and that’s why only a select few will own the units. It is in a diplomatic enclave with good schools, and renting out a property there is not a problem,” she notes.

Tiah adds that the 3-storey condominium block will have a linear pool and rooftop garden, while each of the four-level town villas will have a private pool and lift. The condos will be priced from RM3 million to RM4 million, while the town villas will be from RM7 million.

Another significant project to be launched by 1H2011 is a freehold condominium project in Dutamas, just down the road from the Mont’Kiara enclave, with 396 units ranging from 900 to 2,250 sq ft. It will sit on a 4.55-acre tract and is expected to have a GDV of RM300 million.

“Dutamas is a mid-high-end market project. Compared with the selling price of RM600 to RM700 psf in Mont’Kiara, this is going to be very affordable at RM500 psf (indicative pricing).

“We want to complement Mont’Kiara. Our prices are lower and also near amenities such as Solaris Dutamas. The project is located just opposite the Sutramas condominiums,” Tiah says.

The project, she adds, will target upgraders as there are many old condominiums in the area. It is also looking at attracting young professionals.

TA Global has planned three launches — Damansara Avenue Phase 1C apartment component, TA3 and TA4 as well as Damansara Idaman Parcel 6 condominium component — for 2012. These projects have a total GDV of RM1.02 billion. With all these projects on its plate, TA Global’s prospects look promising.


Overseas projects

TA Global owns four hotels overseas  —Swissotel Merchant Court hotel in Singapore, Radisson Plaza Hotel Sydney and The Westin Melbourne in Australia, as well as the Aava Whistler in Canada. It also owns the 24-storey Terasen Centre office tower (previously known as BC Gas Centre) in Vancouver, Canada.

In Malaysia, the developer owns Menara TA One, a stone’s throw from the Petronas Twin Towers. The 37-storey building also serves as the corporate headquarters of the TA Group.

“We are actively looking at projects overseas. In fact my son (Tiah Joo Kim) is working on a joint venture called Fantasy Garden in Richmond, Vancouver. It is a joint venture with a local developer for a 22-acre parcel of land that is surrounded by established areas and highways. It is mixed development with landed residential, commercial and office components.

“Richmond is mainly a Chinese area near the airport with immigrants from Hong Kong, Taiwan and China. They send their children to study there and are looking to buy homes, not only for capital appreciation but also for the strong Canadian dollar (which is now on a par with the US dollar). Statistics show that there is a shortage of homes in Vancouver,” TA Global director Datin Alicia Tiah says.

She adds that the project will take over seven years and is expected to bring in some C$35 million (RM111.6 million) profit to the group.

The group is currently in the advanced stages of negotiations for two projects in Vancouver. It expects to announce at least one project this year.

Fantasy Garden will be jointly developed by TA Global’s unit TA Development One (Canada) Ltd and Townline Gardens Inc. It will be developed on the land formerly known as Fantasy Garden World, a garden tourist attraction once owned by a former premier of British Columbia. It was then sold to Townline Gardens.

According to a filing with Bursa Malaysia in November 2009, TA Global said the site would be rezoned and redeveloped into a mixed use residential development comprising about 470 apartments and 70,000 sq ft of retail and office space. More than half the site is agricultural land, which would be developed as a public botanical park and urban gardens. The estimated total development cost of the project is about C$170 million (RM542 million).


This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 810, June 14-20, 2010


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