AS house prices continue to rise steadily, looking for affordable homes not too far from the city centre, with amenities close by, has become a tall order.
But at the 60-acre green township Ken Rimba in Shah Alam, developer Ken Holdings Bhd is introducing a condominium project that is not only affordable but also eco-friendly.
Ken Rimba Condominium 1 is the third residential parcel in the RM1.03 billion township, following two landed projects.
“At Ken Rimba, we have done two parcels of landed properties — Legian Residences and Jimbaran Residences,” says Ken Holdings managing director Sam Tan. “Legian was completed at end-2012 and Jimbaran will be completed by the end of the year.”
Ken Rimba Condominium 1, the first condo parcel in Ken Rimba, is aiming for BCA Green Mark Gold Plus — a Singaporean green rating for buildings — which will make it the highest rated condo locally, for now.
The township will have a total of six phases — four residential, one commercial, and the last involving the development of a hotel and offices.
The condo has been given a simple name, unlike the Balinese-inspired Legian and Jimbaran. “Ken Rimba Condominium 1 is straight-
forward, easily identifiable and easy to remember,” says Tan. “For Legian and Jimbaran, which were bigger projects, we wanted to give them an identity.”
He adds that while lessons were learnt from previous projects like Ken Damansara and Ken Bangsar, a township development provided him with different challenges.
“The biggest challenge is trying to integrate everything. The first phase has to integrate with the second phase, and so on. How do we create accessibility without compromising security? In the old days, when security wasn’t a problem, developers would build roads throughout a development. But now, you can’t as you have to create guarded precincts. So, access road planning is very important.”
A condominium with a difference
Ken Rimba Condominium 1, with a GDV of RM330 million, will consist of three tower blocks — Tower A, B and C — and a separate section of pool villas. Towers A and C will be 27 storeys, with the top floors housing penthouses, while Tower B will have 30 storeys, with penthouses on the topmost two levels. This phase of the township will take up six acres.
The three towers will offer a total of 637 typical units, with three bedrooms and built-ups ranging from 1,076 to 1,183 sq ft. The starting price is RM399,000 or RM357 psf. The penthouses — 16 in all — will have four bedrooms and built-ups of 1,872 to 2,367 sq ft. Prices start from RM722,000 (RM385 psf).
There will be 26 pool villas of 2½ storeys, with three bedrooms and built-ups of 2,615 sq ft. Prices start from RM800,000 (RM306 psf).
“Some people ask why we are pricing our units so cheaply,” says Tan. “The problem has always been this — prices keep going up and our costs keep going up. With the Goods and Services Tax (GST) coming in next year, costs will go up, that’s for sure.
“But I think we are trying to find a sweet spot. We are the developer, the builder and the master planner of this township, and we try to see what we can do to create affordable properties. And I believe if we can do this, it sends a message that green properties do not need to be expensive.”
To some, “cheap” translates into compromising on quality. But Tan refutes this, saying: “I think what we have done, as the Ken group, we have proven ourselves. People trust us.”
A private preview was held on the weekend of July 19 and Block C is fully sold, while Block B is open for sale. Block A will be available for purchase at a later date.
Being both the developer and contractor helps in ensuring quality, Tan says.
The facilities, mainly on Level 5, include a swimming pool, gymnasium, reading lounge, badminton courts, and children’s playground.
The green features of Ken Rimba Condominium 1 include a north-south orientation that allows ambient light to brighten the interior, without the heat. Louvred windows permit air flow, even on rainy days.
“Casement windows must be completely closed to prevent rainwater from splashing into the house,” Tan explains. “The slats of louvred windows can be adjusted to let air in while deflecting rainwater.”
The units will be fitted with water-efficient products and painted with low volatile organic component (VOC) paint. Environmentally friendly construction materials such as eco-tiles will be used in the yard and balcony.
Cavity blocks — bricks with air gaps — will be used on certain walls to reduce thermal heat transfer from the exterior to the interior. There will also be a rainwater harvesting system for landscape irrigation and for general usage on the facilities floor. Sensor lights will help reduce electricity usage, while compost bins will be provided so that organic waste can be used to fertilise the greenery in the development.
Ken Rimba Condominium 2, to be launched at a later date, is aiming for the even more stringent BCA Green Mark Platinum rating.
While Ken Rimba is well connected, with direct access to highways such as KESAS, LKSA and Federal Highway, the surrounding area is mainly for industrial purposes. Tan believes change is in the wind.
“This location is fantastic … it is off the Federal Highway. I think the [industrial] neighbours will redevelop. I think you can see a lot of landowners here have a lot of money, so it is a wait-and-see game for them. In Shah Alam, not many properties are freehold.”
According to Tan Kim Seng, executive director of Landserve Sdn Bhd, the redevelopment of the industrial areas around Ken Rimba will happen over time.
“I strongly believe the neighbourhood of Ken Rimba will follow the path of Section 13 in PJ,” he says. “It is just the time factor.”
The area around Ken Rimba, he notes, is an established industrial estate with kampung settlement and there are hardly any transactions in the area at present.
More to come
Meanwhile, Ken Holdings office project in Kuala Lumpur, Ken TTDI, is on schedule for completion in 2015. “We’ve reached the rooftop and are targeting to finish it by mid-next year,” Tan says.
A distinctive feature of this 13-storey development is the integration of an arts theatre and three levels of F&B.
Tan says he did not want a typical office building that is bustling during the day time but is quiet at night. The rooftop will feature a gym and swimming pool. Ken TTDI will offer more than 500 parking bays. In addition, a shuttle service will be provided to One Utama and to the future MRT station.
The MSC-status building has already drawn strong interest, but Tan declines to name the companies, for now.
In Johor Baru, the developer is waiting for final planning approvals and working out the concepts for a 24-acre integrated development that will include hotels, residences, a shopping mall and offices.
“The location is 2½km from the Causeway — it’s very prime, in Jalan Yahya Awal, off the inner ring road,” Tan says.
Apart from that, Ken Holdings is slowly moving into developing hotels for recurring income. It plans to build hotels in Kota Baru, Genting, Johor Baru and Penang. It will not manage the hotels but will partner hotel management companies for the time being.
The long-term plan, according to Tan, is to put the commercial products, such as hotels and offices, into a real estate investment trust.
Ken Holdings had 149.47 acres, according to its 2013 annual report, and continues to look for land all over Malaysia. “Our plan is to plant a ‘green’ flag in every state,” Tan says.
This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on August 4, 2014.
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