Friday, April 30, 2010

Transformation of Block J, PJS7/15

Much has been said in this blog about PJS7 where the new Taylors College main campus now resides. Apparently, Taylors College spend a few hundred million on this campus, hence the college is here to stay. So, like it or not, PJS7 have to develop. But it is difficult to develop this area because there really isn't many pieces of empty land left here. It consists mainly of residential terraced type houses and the only high-rise residentials are limited to Sunway Court, Mutiara Perdana and some low cost flats beside the College itself.
picture above: Block J

Block J is literally located beside the College. This location can mean 2 things for the future of this flat - many of them will be turned into students accomodation or it will be torn down for future development into commercial and residential properties. For both these reasons, it is worth if one can, to invest in this property.

picture above: View of the College Admin Block from Block J

picture above: Sunway Court

picture above: Mutiara Perdana

picture above: Block J Unit 2nd floor

Recently, a close relative of mine managed to purchase a unit in Block J above. So, they have engaged my help to transform this unit into a students' dorm until a time when they might want to move and stay here in the future. Or pass them on to their children when they grow up.

Of course, Block J being a low-cost flat was pretty run-down at the exterior. For a period of time, it was tenanted. While the tenant took relative good care of the place, it was still quite shabby after more than 20 years.

So began a transformation...
The flat is really very small, about 600sf. But it is really functional. There are 3 bedrooms, 1 of them bigger than the others. So it is really ideal for a family of 4 or even 5. There is a kitchen, a bathroom with WC and a living cum dining area. The previous owner, having just a small family decided to hack off the walls of the 3rd bedroom, converting it into his dining area.

The renovation was really very simple. Basically, we covered the floor with laminated flooring and painted the walls white. Besides some electrical wiring, nothing else was done but the results as you can see below, totally transformed the place...

This is the kitchen, below. It was actually quite a nice homely kitchen before we threw out all the stuffs. It has a window that looks out to a lovely garden where some families hang their clothes and the garden has various trees, including a coconut tree which made it have a kampung feel to the place. But the floor tiles and of course, the horrible green interior have to go.

Again, we white-washed the walls. Some simple retiling over the existing tiles, blended in well with the walls, washing machine and kitchen utensils. We maintained the tiles at the bottom of the kitchen top for some colour - and to save costs.... There is also an additional tap for filtered water at the sink (not visible from this photo below) for drinking.

The bedrooms are small and cramped. So, the white-wash, white curtains and white furniture added that feel of space.

Above, before and below after the room's transformation. Surprisingly, we still managed to fill it up with a 4 x 2 feet study table with enough room for a chair. There is even a 3 foot wardrobe at the foot of the bed.

Below is the former dining area which we have managed to box-up into a room again. Despite being the smallest room, it has 2 windows unlike the other 2 rooms.

I like this room the most because it has a nice view same as the kitchen's. The corner side window is covered with bamboo shade. It looks nice and at the same time, very cost effective.

The most obvious transformation happened in the bathroom. Being a very old low cost flat, it has the squat-type WC. Abuse by the previous tenant made it look very un-inviting... It was not dirty or smelly, just that mould has set into the paint which made the toilet looks bad.

Figuring that our modern kids might not be used to a squat-WC and they may even slip and fall inside, we changed the WC to a modern sitting type. White colour so it blends in with the white tiles and walls. We added a bidet for convenience...

The shower had also seen better days.

We tiled the wall half-way to save cost and also for future consideration in case we might want to change the colour of the walls. For now, it is going to be white. Standard in all my renovations, I added a "shoulder" for shampoo, shower gel, soap and other beauty products...

The aim is to control on the budget. The entire renovation still managed to fit in below RM20k; using cost effective yet good lasting materials. However, if we have more money to work on, I would change the piping and water tank. For now, it is still functional but not sure for how long.
One other major concern is security. While the renovations was on-going there was an attempt to break in through the main door. We immediately changed the locks and added a dead-bolt. Of course, we will now think twice to hang out our Prada and LV to dry on the balcony. So, we have to introduce a dryer. Shortly, we will also be installing burglar and fire alarms for added safety.

This is no luxury condominium. I think the expectation is right, if we call this a low cost flat. The aim is to make the interior comfortable. Coupled with the good location, added security and safety, these will surely out-weigh the bad points.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Rebirth of Sunway PJS7 - Taylors College Lakeside Campus

Taylors College is one of the biggest and most established private college in Malaysia. Currently, their college is spread our over many locations throughout KL. With the construction of this Lakeside Campus, they are seeking to consolidate all the degree courses into one location.

At the peak of this campus' operations, they will have a total of 11,000 students and staffs on site. The location of this campus is on one side of the LDP highway, right by the Sunway toll on the PJS7 side. PJS7 is, one would say... the sleepy side of vibrant Sunway as it is isolated by the busy and traffic congested LDP highway. Before passing further comments, I'll take you through the campus:

picture above: The atrium of the college and the administrative block

picture above: A man-made stream for rain water collection

picture above: The retail and accomodation block. These students dorms will house 900 rooms and apparently each room is twin-sharing with each student paying close to RM700 per month

picture above: The esplanade and the lake which will host the water sports activities

picture above: View of Lagoon Perdana apartments which should provide housing for students in this campus but accessibility is totally cut off by the LDP highway. There is no pedestrian crossing and the only way to get from Lagoon Perdana to Taylors is to take a big loop from the junction of the NPE highway. Getting back is no problems though..

picture above: More parking space and more land for development of future phases South of the campus

picture above and below: Typical lecture theatres

picture above: Skylight along the corridors provide natural lighting

picture above: Inside the 3-storey library

picture above: The administrative block and atrium as seen from the library

picture above: The library

picture above: The academic block
The whole idea of the tour above is to let you sight an actual multi-million ringgit campus. And Taylors College would not have chosen a WORSE location. PJS7 is an "island" - sorrounded by the Klang river which cuts it off from Kinrara, the LDP Highway which cuts it off from the rest of Sunway, KESAS highway which cuts it off from Puchong and the NPE which cuts it off from Sunway PJS5. Hence, the place is a traffic nightmare. Once you get in, you hardly want to go out to face the traffic nightmare. Walking is not an option too. And accomodation and food is scarce and expensive here.
As a result, the 3000 odd students already on campus in the 1st phase are stuck with little choice but to pay. This has a direct impact on the property prices. Although in a bad locality, a standard 2 bedroom link house price has gone up from RM280k in 2008 to RM340k in 2009 and RM450k in 2010. The only condominium in this area, Sunway Court has gone up from RM150k to RM250k for a 900sf 3-bedroom walk-up unit. If you are not already in, it's too late to even consider if you want to make decent returns. To top it all up, these are leasehold properties.

picture above: The Mutiara Perdana apartments as seen from the campus. Mutiara Perdana, a problem-logged project which at the beginning had problems getting a CF and was struggling to sell at around RM110k for each 3-bedroom unit has suddenly shot up to RM230k to RM240k. Owners are getting rentals of RM1500 to RM2000 for each unit depending on the furnishing. Mutiara Perdana is only 5 minutes walk to the campus

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Glimpse of UMLand-MMC's Suasana Ceylon

This project located in Bukit Ceylon is a UMLand and MMC joint venture development. There has been some controversy earlier with landslides occuring at the site, apparently killing a construction worker. However, UMLand has denied this citing a misunderstanding with an incident elsewhere. Apparently, the reporter had taken a picture of the site which is now covered with plastic sheets and hence the perception has stuck. However, the clearing of a big chunk of Bukit Ceylon for this project has caused a bungalow on top of the hill to lose part of its garden and wall.
Anyway, the project has been halted for close to a year now pending approval from the authorities. UMLand is hoping that people will have short memories and the project will continue. Hopefully so, not for my lack of environmental concerns but the site really looks horrible now and as long as no piling is done to stabilize the earth, the whole Bukit Ceylon may come tumbling down one day.

This project will apparently consist of one bedroom, 2 bedroom and 3 bedroom units priced from RM450k onwards. The attraction are the units which faces the swimming pool, overlooking Bukit Ceylon and hence will have an unobstructed commanding view of KLCC and KL Tower. It will be breath-taking.

With this project, the recent Bolton announcement for SixCeylon and the WingTai Asia's Verticas project which is on-going, there will be an addition of almost 1600 new units into the Bukit Ceylon/Bukit Bintang area. I think Suasana Ceylon will directly compete with SixCeylon as both offers small studio/1 bedroom units. With the current sluggish markets affecting high-end studio/1 bedroom units in One residency and Seri Bukit Ceylon, I think we are looking at a big challenge ahead to sustain the market. I would call for UMLand and Bolton to reconsider and instead go for the middle sector, i.e. make their units smaller and price them below RM350k so that a rental of RM2000 will be feasible. There is a huge shortage in this sector.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Recently I have been to Penang and seen how properties have been booming there, despite the sluggish economy. The same phenomena seems to been taking place in Kota Kinabalu (KK) as well. I have always known KK to have one of the highest cost of living in Malaysia, even higher than KL in many cases. Average income here in KK is on the other hand, much lower than KL. So, how do we then describe how landed property, premium condominiums and commercial lots prices have almost doubled and rental is on an all time high?
Every year we have predicted that the property prices will right itself with the economic downturn and every year we get it wrong. Prices just keep climbing and climbing. And interestingly too, there are many vacant shop lots, businesses at the one time hot cake Warisan Square are closing one by one... so what is justifying those high prices?

picture above and below: Times Square located beside the Sutera Harbour resort is a new commercial block but largely vacant

One friend in KK pointed out that most of the properties, especially the commercial lots are actually bought en-bloc or owned by the few rich tycoons and politicians in Sabah. They would have paid cash and would not be bothered if they could rent them today or tomorrow. One day, Sabah's economy would pick up again and prices will continue to escalate. This speculative activity is no different from what we have seen driving prices sky high in the KL city center area - we have blocks of vacant luxurious condos which are vacant but prices are hardly affected.

picture above: Vacant shops at Lintas, a relatively more matured area

As it is today, everyone doing business in Sabah will tell you that it is very difficult for the economy to do well here as long as the level of corruption here persists. Sabah properties are owned by the few rich. There is a hope of change in government as the Federal opposition has promised an increase of oil royalty from the present 5% to 20%. The money, with better transparency and governance as displayed by existing Federal opposition ruled states in the Peninsular will mean more positive development and spending power for the locals. However, although Sabah has seen a change of state government 4 times in its history, it is understood that it will be impossible to happen in the near future - the number of "phantom voters", foreigners issued with citizenship for electoral purposes now outnumber the locals.

picture above: The Marina Court resort in the picture above is one of the few condos fetching good rental. However workmanship is very bad and the building is plaqued with problems. Warisan Square located just across Jalan Dua Puluh was a very well received commercial development but lately many shops closed. Opposite the Marina Court is the controversial KK Waterfront land reclamation which will block out all the sea views from Marina Court

So, the conclusion is... wait a long time if you are willing to invest here....