#Special Focus* City of Elmina — a sustainable vision realised

THE City of Elmina, a regional grouping of townships located along the Guthrie Corridor Expressway (GCE), has a gross development value (GDV) of over RM25 billion and is expected to take 10 to 18 years to complete.

The 5,000-acre development is envisioned to be Selangor's "wellness and liveable" city. It is situated next to a 2,700-acre forest reserve, which complements the development's concept.

Sustainable features in the City of Elmina can be divided into three main aspects: environment, economic and social.

In terms of the environment, there is the Elmina Central Park — a 300-acre central park — and continuous neighbourhood parks created to encourage residents to embrace outdoor activities.

There is also a 70km cycling track and a 42km jogging track that connect main community facilities such as clinics, community centres, neighbourhood shops and schools.

As everything is within walking distance, residents will rely less on the motorised mode of transport.

Aside from that, existing waterways in the township has been maintained and further enhanced to ensure that the overall ecosystem and water management is integrated into the landscaping.

Public transport will also be planned to reduce traffic jams and save residents' time on the road, thereby increasing their quality time with their family and reducing their carbon footprint.

The City of Elmina is being developed in line with the Mercer's Quality of Living Survey. The internationally recognised standard measures liveability in terms of healthcare, education, hygiene, culture, safety, environment, recreation, political and economic stability, as well as public transport.

Sime Darby Property Bhd managing director Datuk Abd Wahab Maskan cites Melbourne as one of the most liveable cities in the world: "It is important to know what makes Melbourne one of the most liveable cities in the world. We look at the elements and see what we can bring to Elmina. Transport is one of them."

The developer is using the Industrialised Building System to reduce wastage, save construction time and improve cost efficiency. It will also be building a 286-acre commercial hub called Elmina City Centre, which will be the catalyst for the area's economic growth, creating employment opportunities and improving the local population's standard of living.

The township is expected to attract about 30,000 households with a population of around 150,000 people, which will create the critical mass for sustaining the local economy and the township.

Economically, cost-saving features will be incorporated into the township, such as a rainwater harvesting system, LED street lights and well-ventilated products designed to reduce the need for air conditioning.

There are two components (a total of 1,250 acres) of the City of Elmina that have been developed so far. One is the completed 250-acre Bukit Subang and the other is the 1,000-acre Denai Alam, which is about 75% completed.

"City of Elmina was envisioned many years ago. To start the ball rolling, we started building affordable houses, which is in Bukit Subang, and then went on to develop Denai Alam, which offers both affordable and higher-end properties. These earlier developments are consistent and blend well with the City of Elmina's master plan.

"The recent launch offers both industrial and residential properties. The timing of this launch is in response to the location of the development and the market demand. There are two interchanges into the City of Elmina. We built the interchanges earlier — that is our strategy," Wahab explains.

The recently launched development is the eastern side of Elmina, of which 255 units of 2-storey linked homes have been fully sold. Soft launched in May, it has a total GDV of RM188.18 million. The price of the intermediate freehold units ranged from RM599,888 to RM828,888.

Meanwhile, socially, the whole township is designed using principles from the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. CCTVs have also been installed at various locations for security reasons.

The township is designed to have its own unique urban character through the "place making" concept, which promotes a vibrant, sustainable and close-knit community.

The landscape design for the neighbourhood parks and central park will accommodate numerous activities, and this includes leisure, sporting and recreational activities, to foster community spirit.

There will also be an Elmina Wellness Cluster, which will include a spa. The two components of this wellness cluster, which will be located close to the forest reserve, are a wellness centre and a wellness real estate cluster.

The wellness centre will span about 12 to 20 acres, and the developer is currently in talks with some branded wellness operators. The complex will be linked to a 200-acre wellness real estate cluster.

Different wellness facilities will be provided, including complementary, curative, preventive and hospitality, to encourage residents to adopt a more balanced, healthy and holistic lifestyle.

The City of Elmina is a short drive from Damansara and Petaling Jaya. It is easily accessible via several major highways, including the GCE, Shah Alam-Batu Arang Highway, New Klang Valley Expressway and the proposed Damansara-Shah Alam Highway (DASH).

DASH will also connect the township to Penchala Link. The Sungai Buloh mass rapid transit is expected to be built on the Rubber Research Institute land, which is close to the City of Elmina.

This story first appeared in The Edge weekly edition of Aug 19-25, 2013.

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