City&Country: Cover Story-- Gamuda Land takes new direction
Tags: Chow Chee Wah , Gamuda Land Sdn Bhd
By Racheal Lee of The Edge Malaysia
Sunday, 15 August 2010 00:00
Gamuda Land Sdn Bhd has carved a name for itself as a landed residential estate developer in the suburbs with townships such as Bandar Botanic in Klang, Valencia in Sungai Buloh and Jade Hills in Kajang. But things are changing, and the property development arm of Gamuda Bhd is embarking on its first high-rise mixed commercial development in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.
Last month, Gamuda Land entered into a sale and purchase agreement to acquire a 2.94-acre parcel of commercial freehold land, located at the intersection of Jalan Pudu and Jalan Robertson, for RM820 psf from Wearne Brothers Properties Pte Ltd.
The developer is planning a RM600 million mixed development on the site, its managing director Chow Chee Wah tells City & Country.
Chow says the parcel will be divided into two distinct plots — one with Jalan Pudu frontage and the other fronting on Jalan Robertson — to allow for the development of a commercial and a serviced residential component.
“We will build the retail and commercial component fronting busy Jalan Pudu because it is nearer to pedestrian traffic,” he adds.
With a plot ratio of seven, Gamuda Land is looking at commercial space of 80,000 to 100,000 sq ft, housed in five or six levels on the half-acre plot.
For the parcel fronting Jalan Robertson, plans are for serviced apartments with a SoHo concept that caters for young professionals who want to live in the central business district (CBD) to avoid traffic congestion when travelling to work.
Chow says the serviced apartments/SoHo will probably range in size from 650 sq ft to 750 sq ft at an affordable price range aimed at young people and expatriates.
“The biggest advantage of the development is that it is near the LRT (Plaza Rakyat station). The project is also within walking distance to the Bukit Bintang shopping area. We have done a lot of market studies and understand that investors like small units below 800 sq ft as the rental yield is very good. It is also affordable, on a per unit basis, to the young local professionals who have just started their career,” he says.
The plan is to build two blocks of serviced apartments/SoHo offering 900 units, with an indicative pricing of RM1,100 psf. One of the blocks will have 40 levels, connected to a lower block by a sky bridge. The sky bridge will be where all the common amenities will be located.
There will be a retail podium beneath these units, Chow says, but it will be different from the commercial component fronting Jalan Pudu. This retail podium will have a net lettable area of 32,000 sq ft designed for “speciality shops” such as hair salons and convenience shops. Gamuda Land also hopes to bring in F&B outlets to create a vibrant atmosphere.
“on Jalan Robertson, we will create a contemporary lifestyle centre for the mass market which is not in direct competition to what is available in the adjacent Bukit Bintang area.
“The F&B outlets in the retail podium can offer al-fresco dining on Jalan Robertson. We hope to make it a new location for young people to hang out. Of course, we will have separate lifts and car parks for residents and visitors as the security aspect is one of our main priorities. We are still finalising the design and the product mix,” he says.
Construction is scheduled to start in about two years (2012/2013). The commercial space will be kept for leasing to control the tenant mix, but Gamuda Land does not discount a sale and leaseback option.
Going forward, Chow says Gamuda Land could undertake similar niche developments in the CBD area.
“We will not disregard any opportunities to further strengthen and enhance our market share, and we are still looking to acquire more such land in KL city. We will continue to look out for growth opportunities to sustain our market presence. This is also to capitalise on Gamuda Land’s strong positioning and track record,” he says. The developer has a total landbank of 2,222 acres in Kota Kemuning, Valencia, Bandar Botanic and Jade Hills in Selangor, Madge Mansion in Kuala Lumpur, Horizon Hills in Johor and Vietnam, valued at RM22 billion.
Gamuda Land’s Jalan Pudu project is in the mature Jalan Pudu-Bukit Bintang area which has hardly seen any new projects in recent years. Land is scarce here, with the area dominated by shops aimed at the pedestrian traffic from Puduraya bus terminal and Plaza Rakyat LRT, and contemporary shopping malls further up in the Bukit Bintang shopping strip.
Adjacent to Puduraya is Plaza Rakyat, which occupies a triangular tract. The construction of a RM1.3 billion mixed development on it was stalled due to the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Initially, it was to comprise a 79-storey office tower, a 46-storey condominium, a 24-storey hotel and a 7-storey shopping centre.
Efforts have been made to revive the project since 1997, but the government announced in January this year that it had decided to terminate the deal with the developer following failed negotiations. A deadline to revive the project was not met.