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IOI Properties moves to next level

PUCHONG used to be known for tin mining and rubber plantations, which were later converted into oil palm plantations. In fact, the town's tin mining legacy is apparent with the numerous quarry lakes that dot its landscape.

Five decades on, the plantations and single-lane roads have made way for rows of terraced houses, shops, office towers, retail complexes, factories and the perpetually busy eight-lane Damansara-Puchong Highway (LDP).

"Puchong is now a sought-after address. It has the widest highway running through it, and now our part of Puchong will be served by four light rail transit (LRT) stations along the Ampang line extension. That's even more than the number of stations in Petaling Jaya!" says IOI Properties Bhd director Teh Chin Guan.

IOI's part of Puchong, of course, refers to Bandar Puteri Puchong and Bandar Puchong Jaya — two of the most highly sought-after addresses in the district. The townships were IOI Properties' main forays into real estate in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the IOI Group was better known for being an oil palm giant. The conglomerate converted the vast oil palm and rubber plantations into the thriving townships in Puchong today.

Properties here have appreciated steadily, with the earliest launches — such as Bandar Puteri Puchong's Acacia 2-storey terraced houses which were launched in 2000 at RM248,000 — appreciating to RM780,000 currently. The homes have land areas of 22ft by 70ft and built-ups of 1,820 sq ft. It is worth noting that 96% of the houses were taken up within two days of its launch.

Meanwhile, the Boulevard 4-storey shopoffices, with built-ups of 7,446 sq ft and launched in 2008, were initially priced at RM888,800. Today, these units command about RM2.4 million.

IOI Properties, which is set to be listed on the Main Market of Bursa Malaysia by year-end with a market capitalisation of between RM8 billion and RM14 billion, has about 100 acres of land left within its townships in Puchong, with an estimated gross development value (GDV) of RM7.8 billion. These parcels have been earmarked for residential and commercial developments.

Some of IOI Properties' newer projects are Puteri Hills, IOI Rio City and Puchong Financial Corporate Centre (PFCC) in Bandar Puteri Puchong. It will also introduce its Skyz Residence and Parc Ville in Bandar Puchong Jaya soon.

What sets these projects apart from IOI's previous developments are their density, components and lifestyle proposition, he says.

"Our more recent projects have different design concepts to cater for younger buyers, with different types of facilities such as improved recreational facilities, shops or even malls under their apartments.

"People used to not want to have retail activity under their homes because they were dirty, noisy and create traffic problems. But now, they don't mind because the standards of most F&B outlets have gone up. They are cleaner. It is also more convenient to have such facilities nearby, of course.

"We want to build places where people can play, work and live, and I would say we are evolving in tandem with market trends in this respect," he chuckles.

In Bandar Puteri Puchong is Puteri Hills, a 12.8-acre freehold development that features 120 duplex townhouses and 120 condominium units housed in a 15-storey medium-rise block. The RM280 million development is expected to be launched in 4Q, says Teh.

The townhouses will be divided into two units, each of which occupy two floors and have a built-up of 3,606 sq ft. Each home will feature 300m by 12m landscaped decks overlooking a pedestrian road. Owners can park their cars in a basement-level area accessible through a back entrance. Each unit will be allotted three parking bays.

Meanwhile, the condominium will have eight units on each floor and three lifts. The units come with built-ups of 1,200 and 1,700 sq ft. Each unit will be allocated two parking bays in an elevated car park.

The security features include panic buttons in the car park, landscaped deck and inside each unit, a secured control system for the resident's lobby, resident's lift access to designated floors, CCTV in the car park and lift areas, digital locks at the home's main entrance and voice intercom to the guard house. Puteri Hills' common facilities include a clubhouse with a lap pool, private function room, gymnasium and cabana.

The biggest development in Bandar Puteri Puchong will be IOI Rio City. At 72 acres, the RM6 billion integrated development will comprise secured offices, a hotel, retail and residential properties connected by landscaped walkways and retail streets.

The first phase will feature 74 four-storey shopoffices with built-ups of 11,443 to 19,460 sq ft, 165 office suites (850 to 1,608 sq ft), a 55,000 sq ft retail podium and 650 serviced apartments with built-ups of 600 to 1,200 sq ft. The facilities include a 50m lap pool, futsal court, private function room, barbecue area, gymnasium that overlooks the pool and a cabana.

In Bandar Puchong Jaya, IOI Properties will unveil Skyz Residences, which will comprise five blocks of 25 to 30-storey condominiums housing 1,041 units with built-ups of 1,095 to 1,580 sq ft. At 150m above sea level, this four-acre project will be the highest landmark in Puchong upon completion. It has a GDV of RM730 million.

Some of its special facilities include a four-acre clubhouse with full facilities and landscaped decks with different themes, sky lounges with a gourmet kitchen, a theatrette, reading corners and a café. The clubhouse facilities include an Olympic size 50m lap pool, a play pool, Jacuzzi, gymnasium that overlooks the pool, tennis court, jogging track, putting green, cabana, tai chi lawn, basketball court and yoga decks.

Next up is Parc Ville, which comprises 280 condo units housed in two 18-storey blocks on a 5.2-acre tract. The units have semi-detached layouts. There are two types of units, one with a built-up of 1,200 sq ft and the other with a built-up of 1,300 sq ft. The project, with a GDV of RM170 million, is expected to be launched sometime in 3Q.

Most of the projects are still under construction. "We have a reputation as a reliable developer with the landbank and the financial strength to see our projects through. That's why the moment we launch our projects here, there is a lot of demand because our buyers do not have to worry about whether we can deliver or not. In fact, we usually launch our projects after construction starts. It gives buyers some confidence when they know we are able to build up to this point," Teh smiles.

PFCC South will comprise 198 office suites, 300 serviced apartments and 20 shopoffices. The four-acre development will be directly connected to an LRT station via a skybridge from across the highway.

IOI Properties also plans to open a business hotel to complete the commercial area.

"The motels around PFCC are usually almost fully occupied and they aren't cheap either at around RM70 a night! So we know there is a demand for quality accommodation. That's why we want to bring in a business hotel. We are looking at a four-star hotel," says Teh.

New frontiers

Like many developers, IOI Properties has ventured into Puchong South, the nebulous spot between Puchong and Putrajaya. Its 550-acre leasehold township, 16 Sierra, is flanked by the LDP and the South Klang Valley Expressway (SKVE).

These highways intersect with the Maju Expressway and will, in the near future, connect with the Damasara-Shah Alam Elevated Expressway (DASH) as well.

The township is made up of 16 precincts, called Sierra 1 to Sierra 17 (the number four was omitted owing to superstition, Teh laughs), with pockets of non-residential development in between. One of the facilities under construction is the Rafflesia International and Private Schools, which is expected to open in September. The schools will teach both the UK and local syllabuses.

Sierra 16's special feature is its 16 interconnected themed parks that are accessible to all residents. The largest is Central Park, and at the heart of this recreation centre is the Grand Lawn, distinguished by its turf styled like a bull's eye. Surrounding the lawn is the Grass Amphitheatre, a reflexology path, a gazebo and a children's playground. The other gardens have themes such as geometry, the alphabet, canopies, forests and fragrances.

The other facilty is Amigo Clubhouse, which will open in 2014 and will feature a 40m pool, fun slides, tipping buckets and other interactive play equipment. There is also a badminton hall, glass gymnasium with yoga deck and a fully-equipped function hall.

IOI Properties plans to launch the township's first high-rise residence, La Thea condominium, by year-end. The two blocks — one is 24 storeys and the other is 20 storeys — will house 526 units with built-ups of 787 to 1,200 sq ft. With a GDV of RM275 million, the average price will be about RM550 psf.

Besides building higher-density projects, IOI Properties also sees potential in brownfield developments. "There are certain low-density properties with redevelopment potential. IOI Mall is an example. Who knows, we may tear it down to build something bigger. But if that ever happens, it is still a long way off," Teh remarks.

Whatever IOI Properties has planned for Puchong, it's clear that it has already played a major role in transforming the former tin mining town into a bustling and vibrant township.


This story first appeared in The Edge weekly edition of Jul 29-Aug 4, 2013.


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