New lifestyle with Five Stones in SS2

The suburb of SS2 in Petaling Jaya will sport a new look with the inclusion of a condominium development in its vicinity. On Jalan SS2/72 next to Jasmine Towers, one of the oldest condo projects in the area, is Selangor Dredging Bhd's (SDB) latest offering christened Five Stones. This luxury condo development is expected to create a new way of living, which will incorporate elements of a kampung or village lifestyle.

The project, launched this month, sits on nearly five acres of land, which is part of an 11-acre freehold tract bought by SDB in 2005 for about RM53 million from Luxor Properties Sdn Bhd. On the same site, taking up two acres and adjacent to Five Stones, is sister condo development, the Ameera. The 30-storey Ameera, completed in December 2009, was launched in January 2007 at RM290 psf at sizes ranging from 1,200 to 3,300 sq ft, with five penthouses measuring between 2,700 and 6,000 sq ft. Ameera is 100% sold.

Five Stones comprises five blocks of three high and two low-rise structures offering a total of 377 units. Currently, SDB is only launching three blocks in its first phase, namely Block A, a 38-storey tower with 147 units; Block B, an exclusive 4-storey building with only eight units; and Block C, a 15-storey tower with a total of 30 units, with a gross development value (GDV) of RM185 million.

The second phase, to be launched at a later date, will include Block D, a 25-storey tower with 50 units and Block E with 36 storeys of 143 units. Phase Two should be launched sometime in 2010. The GDV has not been firmed up.

The prices are comparable to properties in Mont'Kiara and Bangsar, with the units going for about RM450 psf or about RM800,000 to RM1.2 million for standard units. Penthouses are between RM1.6 million and RM2.1 million.

While the Ameera and Five Stones are both  luxury developments, the main difference lies in the price and land size. Five Stones is priced higher because it has more fit-outs than Ameera and more extensive landscaping.

The Five Stones modern village concept ties in well with good old-fashioned values of neighbourliness. "We are trying to recreate a community within the development where people can feel safe and are able to trust their neighbours like in the past," explains Teh Lip Kim, SDB managing director.

The two tower blocks will be built on elevated ground, and strategically placed so they do not look into other units, while the low-rise buildings are positioned to optimise privacy. In Blocks B and C there are four garden units, with penthouses available in Blocks A and C. All units come fitted with kitchen cabinets and appliances like fridge and stove.

The units range from 1,700 to 2,400 sq ft, with 3+1 and 4+1 bedrooms. The penthouses have a 5+1 bedroom configuration, with floor sizes of 3,600 and 4,700 sq ft. Five Stones is SDB's first launch of 2009.

All in all, the development aims to provide a safe and conducive environment for families.

Five Stones and SS2
SS2 is considered a predominantly conservative Chinese enclave and the question is whether Five Stones has a place within this community. "I agree that SS2 is a conservative area, but no one has provided an alternative living environment. We are confident with what we are providing," Teh tells City & Country.

The target market for this development is semi-detached and bungalow owners who are looking for an alternative living space, she adds.

Loong Ching Hong, SDB group general manager, says it is also for home upgraders. "With this development, we hope to encourage people to remain within the property so that the entire family is kept together. That is why we provide so many different areas to cater for the needs of different age groups in a family. Five Stones is open to all types of consumers," he says.

Design philosophy
The Five Stones design concept emphasises five key elements: letting residents bask in the luxury of space, extending their world beyond the four walls, nurturing a sense of belonging, promoting the spirit of togetherness, and being at the centre of a well-established locale.

The entire development comes with expansive landscaping to ensure wide open spaces for walks and gatherings. There will also be a clubhouse to cater for all age groups. There are play-sets imported from Denmark for children, basketball and badminton courts, a pool and a gym for adults. The clubhouse also contains a function room that can accommodate up to 14 tables.

The developer has also included a unique healing gym, where a health consultant will be on hand by appointment to help those who may have back and knee problems learn how to use exercise to relieve the ache. "Not many developers take into consideration the needs of those above 40," says Teh. Elderly parents or those with sport injuries may find this facility helpful.

Unique landscape designs include boulders specially placed around the area for residents to rest. Living room lamps will be placed beside outdoor benches in line with the living-room-in-the-open theme.

Another attractive feature is the black granite "bridge" that the developer says represents a wooden bridge used by kampung folks to cross rivers. For those worried about pesky mosquitoes, the landscaping will include plants that will repel the insects.

In the show units, one is impressed with the high ceilings, which are a foot higher than conventional ones. This gives a sense of spaciousness. On top of that, most units will have a long balcony allowing in natural light and ventilation.

Value spillover
As the property values within the condo development are set quite high, will they raise property prices of the terraced houses opposite the Five Stones development? Teh hopes so but a consultant disagrees.

"Five Stones is not likely to push up the values of the properties in the surrounding areas as there are other condos located on the same road," says James Tan, associate director of Raine & Horne International Zaki + Partners.

However, a nearby commercial centre, being developed by IJM Land, may have a more positive impact on property values. "The shopping centre will more likely cause values to increase although this may add to the traffic congestion," says Tan. "I believe that the prices of the terraced homes will increase from the current estimated RM400,000 to RM500,000."

SDB also has commercial land behind the Five Stones development. When the land and the commercial centre are fully developed, there will certainly be an increase in traffic congestion. To counter this, Jalan SS2/72 will be widened with the cost borne by SDB. Also, the developer has been asked to contribute to the widening of Jalan Harapan, which will link the area directly to the SPRINT Highway. At present, Jalan Harapan is an incomplete stretch but there are plans to finish it in the future.

Despite the economic slowdown, SDB is continuing to forge ahead with its launches. Besides Five Stones, SDB will launch a 38-unit condo off Jalan Ampang in October. Sitting on a one-acre land, it is situated behind the British Embassy. The GDV is RM160 million.

Another launch scheduled this December is a 110-unit condo development in Singapore's Gilstead Road, which is near the Newton MRT station. Built just under one acre, it has a GDV of RM225 million.

However, work on SDB's Damansara 21 project in Medan Damansara has yet to resume after it was halted as a result of a stop-work order a year ago. The development, on a 5.75-acre tract, is said to have 21 luxury bungalows. The GDV is between RM230 million and RM250 million.

As the property market awakens from its slumber, SDB hopes to be well positioned to ride this wave of recovery.

This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 768, Aug 17-23, 2009.

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