Commercial property:Changing the Puchong skyline

With two commercial developments underway, IOI Properties Bhd general manager (group operations) Lee Yoke Har admits that it’s an exiting time for the group. “In the past, we’ve concentrated on township developments. This time around, we’re doing something unique and niche,” she says. With both these developments — Puchong Financial Corporate Centre (PFCC) in Bandar Puteri and IOI Boulevard in Bandar Puchong Jaya —it looks as if the developer that has been synonymous with the growth and development of Puchong is once again making waves in this address.

Located on the last commercial tract in Bandar Puchong Jaya and with direct access from the Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong (LDP), IOI Boulevard was never planned to be a run-of-the-mill commercial development. “We wanted it to be unique…we felt that Bandar Puchong Jaya was ready for a development like IOI Boulevard,” she says adding that the commercial area at the township, which first started in 1990, is already very vibrant. Also in its favour is the ready population catchment of more than 400,000 from the Puchong district, Bandar Sunway, Subang Jaya, Bukit Jalil and other nearby neighbourhoods.

“We feel we understand the Puchong population well, we know the demographic,” she says pointing out that based on property prices in Puchong, the affordability level of Puchong residents is on par with other addresses such as Bandar Utama.

Launched in June 2008, IOI Boulevard comprises six blocks of 8-storey offices and the Palette — made up of 36 retail and food and beverage (F&B) outlets on the first and ground floors that face an inner courtyard. To date, 70% of the offices have been sold; the units are priced from RM930 psf for the ground floor and from RM400 psf for the upper floors. Buyers are mainly small businesses, small and medium enterprises and upgraders from shop offices in the vicinity. Inspired by London's Covent Garden, IOI Boulevard is positioned as a lifestyle-centric commercial development

Positioned as a lifestyle-centric commercial development, the heart of IOI Boulevard is the Palette. According to Lee, the Palette was inspired by the carefree and laidback ambience of Covent Garden in London and offers a platform for people within the community and beyond to showcase their talents. “Through the landscaping and water features at the courtyard, we want to create a laidback atmosphere for people to unwind after work,” says Lee adding that the developer also plans to organise musical events and concerts during weekends as well as exhibitions.

Available only for lease to allow the developer to have better control of the tenant mix, to date 50% of the retail and F&B space has been taken up. “We’ll be having a Japanese and Italian fusion restaurant, a book bar as well as other conveniences that support the office workers in the area,” adds Lee.

Thus far, she says, the development’s lifestyle positioning has been well received. “IOI Boulevard has become the talk of the town…we believe this is the first development of its kind in Puchong,” she says adding that the development may even elevate Puchong to the level of more chic addresses like Bangsar or Sri Hartamas.

Iconic towers
Comprising five office towers, IOI Properties envisions PFCC as the corporate and financial hub of Puchong. With the main frontage facing the LDP, PFCC boasts an enviable location; what’s more it is also said to be a 3-minute walk to the nearest proposed LRT station. The development also enjoys the benefits of being in a mature township; it is a stone’s throw away from Bandar Puteri’s main commercial centre and surrounded by 150 completed 4-storey shop offices that are enjoying high capital return and stable rents. Some of the businesses operating here include Giant, Jusco and Tesco hypermarket as well as many local and international banks such as Citibank, OCBC, Standard Chartered and Al-Rajhi.  With development like the Puchong Financial Corporate Centre underway.Lee (inset) admits it's an exciting time for the group. Photo by Kenny Yap.

Encompassing 10 acres, PFCC boasts five distinct towers, each with its own unique façade. To date, two towers have been completed and are pending certificate of fitness. The buildings boast state-of-the-art commercial features such as high speed voice and data facilities and wired to support faster Internet connections. Lee discloses that given the positioning of the development and the state-of-the-art facilities, the developer plans to seek MSC Malaysia Cybercentre status from the Multimedia Development Corporation for PFCC.

“We’re targeting IT and multinational companies, especially since Cyberjaya is just 15 minutes drive away,” she says. So far, the 12-storey Tower 1, with a net lettable area of 125,927 sq ft has secured one tenant — a UK-based university that’s opening its branch campus here has taken up 60% of the floor space. The 20-storey Tower 2, with a net lettable area of 253,425 sq ft, meanwhile, has secured tenancy from an oil and gas company.

“Government agencies and telecommunications MNCs have also expressed interest,” adds Lee.

Having completed the first two towers, the developer expects to embark on the development of the remaining three towers soon. These, says Lee, will be “better than the first two in terms of the façade and materials used”. The developer is also looking to certify the three towers as green buildings. She explains the rationale: “In three years, by the time the towers will be completed, green buildings will be an important criteria for MNCs looking for office space.”

While there’s no doubt as to the readiness of the Puchong population to embrace these new developments, Lee concedes that the economic slowdown has meant that some of its plans have had to be delayed. For instance, while she would have liked to see all the F&B and retail outlets at the Palette operational by the time IOI Boulevard opens its doors in August, the economic situation has meant that merchants are adopting a wait-and-see stance. Nonetheless she remains optimistic, for what’s certain is that the face of Puchong is changed again.

For details on IOI Properties’ upcoming projects, call (03) 8064 8888.

This article appeared in Commercial Property, the Special Focus pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 761, June 29 - July 5, 2009.
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