Mitraland’s C180 off to a good start

The last time City & Country interviewed Chuah Theong Yee, Mitraland Group of Companies’ managing director, was when he unveiled initial plans for the company’s first commercial development in Cheras Selatan, Kuala Lumpur,  in the middle of last year. Since then, the RM300 million mixed development, known as C180, has been off to a good start as its first phase, launched on April 11, has been 90% sold. The first phase comprises forty-one 3 and 4-storey shopoffices.

During the launch, special incentives were offered, including an interest absorption scheme, in which buyers who take up a loan, pay just the down payment. They only start paying the monthly instalments when the project is completed. The developer also picks the tab for the legal fees for the sale and purchase agreement. Security service fees for the first year have also been waived. Units were sold from RM1.28 million, or RM290 psf. The lot size for standard intermediate units is 22ft by 75ft. Buyers were mainly from Petaling Jaya, Cheras and other neighbouring areas.

Located in an industrial area, C180 has 3 and 4-storey shopoffices, corporate offices, a business hotel, serviced apartments and retail outlets on an 18-acre freehold site. It is near Jusco on Jalan Cheras Perdana, and within a 10-minute drive from the site are other housing estates with a population of over 200,000. C180 is a joint-venture (JV) project with an individual landowner.

Chuah: We are not a big developer and a JV is the best wayThe second phase will comprise shopoffices, retail outlets, ninety 5-storey corporate office and one entertainment block of about 60,000 sq ft complete with food and beverage outlets, a fitness centre and a roof-top recreational fun park. The developer says it is the first such development in the south of Cheras, and it hopes it will be a “new, happening place”. The developer plans to sell the corporate office component known as The Latitude on an en bloc basis. Part of Phase Two will be launched by year-end.

Phase Three will consist of a business hotel, which is fully owned by the developer and will not be for sale. Another block of serviced apartments will be up for sale. The developer could not reveal the indicative prices for its second and third phases as plans have not been finalised. The last phase will probably be a block of 6-storey showroom or corporate office. The whole development is expected to be completed within six years.

Chuah set up Mitraland some 10 years ago. A JV development called Taman Sejati in Sungai Long, Cheras, comprising semi-detached homes and bungalows, was its first project, with a gross development value of RM42 million. Chuah approached the landowner for the JV as he felt it was the best option for the company to make its foray into property development. “We are not a big developer and a JV is the best way. Through JVs, our gearings will be low and the landowner will also benefit as the price of the land will definitely increase,” he says.

Kiara 1888
To date, the developer has completed more than six projects worth more than RM1.2 billion, mainly within the Klang Valley. Its first high-end, high-rise development was Kiara 1888 in Mont’Kiara that has a GDV of RM140 million. Launched in early 2006, it has seen a 90% take-up rate. Having 182 units within two blocks (a high and a low-rise), they were priced at RM330 psf during the launch. They now carry a  price tag of RM460 psf. The service fee is 26 sen psf. According to Chuah, the units fetched RM490 psf on the secondary market three months ago, while current rents are at an average of RM3 psf.

Chuah says 70% of the buyers of Kiara 1888 were locals, while the rest were foreigners from Sri Lanka, Singapore, Australia, Indonesia, the UK and other countries. He expects the majority of the units in Kiara 1888 to be homeowner-occupied due to their large size compared to units offered by neighbouring developments. Unit sizes range from 1,238 to 3,983 sq ft.

Chuah says Kiara 1888 is now completed and Mitraland has started handing over the units to the owners early this year. “The timing was good. For Kiara 1888, construction went on smoothly and there was good take-up right from the start. Of course, there were people who doubted us since we were new, but we managed to prove ourselves and deliver ahead of schedule,” he says.

Lessons learnt from Kiara 1888 were applied to its [email protected] residential development launched in September 2007, adds Chuah. The [email protected] consists of 2½ and 3-storey courtyard terraced houses on a 9.3-acre freehold tract. “All our 121 units have been sold. During our official launch in 2007, the selling price was RM418,800 and recent transactions were at RM498,800,” says Chuah. Built-ups range from 2,769 to 3,018 sq ft. The developer expects to hand over the completed units within the next two months. The majority of the purchasers are locals.

Going forward, Chuah says he is aggressively looking for land as he sees opportunities in the current economic downturn. He adds that Mitraland will continue to develop reasonably priced high-end properties within the next two to three years.

The developer is also developing Sejati Lake Park in Segamat, Johor, in partnership with the Johor government. Spanning over 100 acres, the RM150 million mixed development consists of five phases. Phase One, launched in 2007, comprising semidees, is 90% completed. Prices are from RM233,800 onwards and land sizes are 35ft by 60ft.

Chuah says developing projects outside the Klang Valley will not be an issue, but it is important to look at the feasibility of the projects. However, for now, Mitraland is focusing on C180.

This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 752, April 27-May 3, 2009


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