Yuk Tung’s The Peak wins Best Residential title at Asia Pacific Property Awards 2010
S.C. Cheah's Choice Awards 2010
Best Rising Developer:
Yuk Tung and HR Group
BACKGROUND AND PROGRESS
Cheras is a suburb of Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia. The township is located to the south-east of Kuala Lumpur. Cheras is also adjacent to Ampang to the north and Kajang to the south, both of which are major cities within the metropolitan area of Kuala Lumpur.
SHOPPING, LEISURE & ENTERTAINMENT
Several local shopping centres were established in Cheras with varying success, they include Leisure Mall, Connaught Market Centre (Giant Hypermarket), Carrefour Cheras, Jaya Jusco, UE3 (Uncang Emas), Phoenix Plaza (which was opened in 1995 by film star Jackie Chan) and Hero Hyper Market, located at Taman Tasik Permaisuri and with the most recent one, Jusco (Cheras Selatan) situated near Belakong.
There are many shop houses, street markets and weekend markets all over the Cheras suburban estates. The pasar malam or night market is filled with pirated goods such as DVDs and counterfeit branded fashion attire. The pasar malam is always crowded. Bintang Walk is in KL and this pasar malam shall be Penguin Walk. Usually pasar malam is the source for oriental hawker food, but for this particular pasar malam it is hard to find any. Cheras is also the home to the longest pasar malam in Malaysia at Taman Connaught.
Cheras hosts several LRT stations. On the Star LRT Line, the Cheras station is located in Jalan Ikan Emas.The Tun Razak Rail interchange is also connected to the KLIA through the KLIA Transit, a 20 minute journey. There are also a number of buses that goes through Cheras. Major highways in Cheras include Jalan Cheras and Jalan Cheras-Kajang.
IT'S hard to imagine that about a hundred years ago, Cheras was just a small tin-mining town with less than 500 inhabitants. Today, the once- sleepy hollow has more than 500,000 residents, and the number is increasing each year. The increase in population has, unfortunately, resulted in unforgiving traffic jams, a problem that has plagued Cheras through the years. It is only recently that Cheras has seen more organised development and better road systems.
However, traffic jams or not, Syarikat Perumahan Pegawai Kerajaan (SPPK) was not deterred from developing a 257.75-hectare piece of land next to Taman Connought, in the middle of Cheras. The RM1 billion township project, Alam Damai, was launched on May 18, 1998, and is rapidly taking shape, with about 13 out of 25 phases completed. More than 800 landed homes have been sold.
Alam Damai is by far the largest freehold township in Kuala Lumpur, scheduled to be completed in 2008. Its mixed development township comprises 4,500 units of residential properties - apartments, condominium, double-storey terrace and semi-detached houses, luxury bungalows and a 18- hectare commercial business centre - with a density ratio of about seven units of housing per acre. The developer also plans to balance the population by having a mixture of races living in the community.
`A key consideration that makes this project different is our focus on maintaining a low-density style development, therefore offering better, more spacious lifestyle,' SPPK managing director Jamaludin Osman said in a recent news report.
A visit to the Alam Damai site, situated at the foot of Bukit Sungai Besi, revealed the popularity of the property development. One two- storey apartment, Desa Damai, launched in July 2000, has already been sold out, with some of the units already occupied. The two recently completed double-story terrace phases, Seroja and Melur, launched in December 2000, were also already sold out.
SPPK has also given much thought on how to maintain low traffic within the phases. `The roads in each phase is purposely designed so as to not inter-connect with roads in other phases because we want to minimise congestion within phases in the future,' Noor Lida Nazri, SPPK's senior marketing manager, tells Housing & Property. `We realise that in Cheras, people use the roads in housing areas as short-cuts, and we do not want that to happen in Alam Damai.'
The main attraction of this township is its 12.12-hectare dedicated green lung. The recreation park, which boasts a pond, jogging routes and cycling trails, would provide breathing space essential for any community, especially in congested urban areas such as Cheras. SPPK began work on the park since November 2002 and plan to complete it earlier than 2008. Only local flora and fauna are used in beautifying the park, estimated to cost more than RM20 million.
Says James KM Tan, associate director of property valuer Raine & Horne International Zaki Partners, Alam Damai's green lung concept is unique because no other developer in Cheras is generous enough to commit such a large area for recreational purposes.
Other public facilities Alam Damai offers are four primary and secondary schools, police station, government clinic, bus and taxi station, kindergarten, market and mosque. A side attraction of Alam Damai is the fact that songbird Siti Nurhaliza has bought two units of landed property at the township.
In January, Alam Damai launched its latest two-storey terrace phase - Teja 1 and 2 (Teja is derived from a historical female Malay warrior, Tun Teja). Noor Lida explained that the Teja phase is designed in shorter rows (five units per row), to meet the increasing demand for corner lots. A total of 63 units of Teja 1 and 2 is on the market, priced between RM298,888 and RM608,333 per unit. The phase is also provided with high- tech features in terms of security and telecommunications.
Aside from building residential homes in Alam Damai, SPPK plans to develop commercial areas for businesses to flourish. There are now ongoing discussions between SPPK and major hypermarkets.
The current limited access roads could be the only deterrent for buyers to purchase the property, says Tan, of what he calls `a very good township project'. `This is the only major setback of Alam Damai today,' he says.
He believes the magnitude of this project deserves bigger roads that could easily connect users to major areas in the Klang Valley, mainly Petaling Jaya, Kuala Lumpur, as well as Putrajaya. Tan projects the value of property in Alam Damai would definitely increase further once the access road problem is solved. Noor Lida is confident that Cheras' traffic woes would diminish when the Middle Ring Road 2 (MRR2) is completed. She adds that in future, Alam Damai will have three entrances - the Cheras-Kajang road, the East- West Link through Jalan Cendikiawan, and the proposed MRR2.
SPPK has been building houses for civil servants for the past three decades. It started operations back in the 1970s with a paid-up capital of RM117 million and only 10 staff. In 1984, Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) acquired a 70 per cent stake in the company, with the remaining 30 per cent held by Minister of Finance Inc. Ten years later, the company successfully achieved its ISO 9002 status. Today, the company has about 100 staff. It reported an unaudited turnover of RM81.9 million in 2002.
To date, the company's portfolio includes more than 16,500 units of various types of residential properties across the country. `SPPK has developed properties in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Perak, Penang, Kedah, Kelantan, Pahang, Johor and Negeri Sembilan,' says Noor Lida. `The company has also developed commercial buildings for investment purposes in Bukit Damansara, Kuala Lumpur.' Other notable projects by SPPK include Bangsar Park, Bandar Baru Bangi and the Kg Tunku shophouses.
Since PNB's takeover, SPPK has also been providing housing for the non- civil servants, but it still holds on to its identity as a property builder for civil servants. About 50 to 60 per cent of the total units developed in every project are set aside for civil servants, who also get to enjoy an attractive 10 per cent discount. Not surprisingly, SPPK's project launches are often sold out in a short while.
Despite the customary strong response, the company does not sit back and relax. Noor Lida points out that, besides advertising in the print media, her team also went to the extent of distributing brochures at mosques during Friday prayers.
`Our success is very much dependant on the repeat buyers,' she says.
`Once they are satisfied with their first house they would later "upgrade" their property by selling it and buying a bigger one from the same developer.'
One main draw for repeat purchases, Noor Lida believes, is the company's `after sales service'. One of the company's aims is to achieve zero complaints by promptly attending to and resolving customer complaints during the defects-reliability period. `We have owners who bought the property 10 years ago coming to us when they face problems,' she says.
`Actually, in the purchase agreement, we are only answerable for defects on the property for a year. However, we continue to help them by giving consultation after visiting the site.'
Aside from building homes, SPPK also develops commercial property for investment purposes. `In tough times, the rental income from these properties have helped us to sustain a constant income,' says Noor Lida.
At the moment, SPPK has its hands full with Alam Damai and will also be launching another residential project in Bukit Jalil called Alam Sutera by end of the year, targeted towards the higher-income population.
Looking ahead, SPPK is keen to continue providing civil servants with quality homes.
`We are happy at where we are now,' says Noor Lida. `Building houses for civil servants is our legacy. SPPK intends to stay in the industry forever and become a community builder.'