GEORGE TOWN: New Bob Group has planned four development projects with a gross development value (GDV) of about RM160 million next year.
The real estate and property management group has been trying to make a name for itself as a boutique property developer in Penang in recent years.
The four projects are: (i) a six-unit gated bungalow development that it has yet to name on Pulau Tikus, with a GDV of RM42 million; (ii) the renovation of its existing NB Tower in Butterworth into an office building with 88 commercial suites (RM55 million GDV); a RM59.5 billion project comprising 17 town villas in Pulau Tikus; and (iv) a “flashpacker” budget hotel — for backpackers with a bigger budget — in Jalan Argyll (about RM3 million GDV).
Both NB Tower and the budget hotel are on the mainland, because as group director Dr Lee Ville said, land bank is becoming scarcer on the island and cost of land has risen too rapidly in recent years.
“There are no other viable options. I believe there is only about 10% of land [left] that can be developed on the island, unless the sea is reclaimed,” said Lee, a medical doctor who left the profession in 2004 to join his family’s real estate and property development business.
The projects will be under the group’s property development arm, NB Tropics Sdn Bhd, which was incorporated in 2012.
This is not the first time the group has ventured into property development. It was actively constructing commercial buildings and low-cost housing before it got burnt at the height of the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997/98.
Then in 2009, the group began making a comeback into the property development sector with a series of small-scale boutique residential projects, until the birth of NB Tropics.
“We looked at rebranding because we wanted to differentiate ourselves as a developer. We are a small development company, and ensured our personal approach to detail and our role in providing a home was designed suitably for our climate, hence the word Tropics,” said Lee on the name of the wholly-owned subsidiary.
NB Tropics will launch its first affordable housing project, River Tropics, with a GDV of RM70 million, by year end.
“The 18-storey development on a 2.8-acre (1.13ha) [piece of] land is situated in Seberang Jaya on the mainland. We believe this is the type of development that is lacking in Penang. It will cost from RM400,000 for units about 1,400 sq ft and RM800,000 for duplex units.
We are hoping to get the BCA Green Mark and Green RE certifications that would make it the first development to get such recognition on the mainland,” said Lee, adding that the take-up rates for the projects have been encouraging, but declined to give actual figures.
The group had previously received Singapore’s BCA or Building and Construction Authority Green Mark award for its RM24 million four-bungalow Preston Oaks development in Pulau Tikus for landed houses that are environmentally friendly and sustainable.
Its RM15.5 million three-bungalow project on Lebuhraya Codrington, The Manor, also won Malaysia’s first Green RE or Renewable Energy platinum certification. Both The Manor and Preston Oaks are now completed.
Meanwhile, Lee said The Gates, a 19-unit light industrial factory project in Batu Maung, and Tropic Suites, a building with 88 commercial suites in Jalan Gottlieb, are about 60% complete. Both projects cost about RM45 million each.
Asked if he was apprehensive about rising costs in the property industry, he said the developments planned by the group are fairly manageable and considered low risk.
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on November 17, 2014.
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