Friday, July 30, 2010

Our Heritage Destroyed

Further to my earlier posting on Heritage buildings in Kuala Lumpur, here is a row of pre-war shophouses in Tengkat Tong Shin, Bukit Bintang destroyed for commercial gains. Back in year 2000, these shophouses were dilapidated and falling apart. Then, the owner had the wisdom to repair them and offered them off for rental. The earlier tenants were all restaurants, which included a Sao Nam Vietnamese restaurant, Thai restaurant the Old Siam and a friends venture called Jiak Guan. All but Sao Nam lasted only a few years.

Later, several other restaurants came and went. At last, they were taken over by a massage joint. The massage joint operator saw fit to build something at the front of the shops resembling some shack from Thailand.... or is it Bali? This would apparently attract tourists to have a massage inside. Why tourists who come to Malaysia will be attracted by Thai or Balinese architecture really defeats me....

Sao Nam is the yellow restaurant on the right of the picture below.

Right next door, an Arab entrepreneur has taken over the former Nyonya restaurant and turned it into a backpackers inn... that resembles Aladdin's den? The sign on the shop stating that the shop was built in 1939 totally evaded him. This same entrepreneur also destroyed 2 other shops in the same area with the same design.

On the 15th of December 2006, a historical mansion called Bok House in Jalan Ampang was demolished. There was a huge outcry. Our government is supposed to gazette these buildings as heritage buildings and prevent any form of destruction to them and preserve them. But how are we supposed to protect our heritage buildings when we have idiots like Rais Yatim as the Culture Minister?

Shortly after Bok House was demolished, he was reported to have said "The cost of rehabilitating Bok House will be high and there is no significant history or aesthetic value attached to the building"

"The Government could also not save Bok House from being demolished because it is privately-owned and not registered as a heritage building."
The list of registered heritage buildings in Malaysia is in fact determined by the government.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Heritage of Penang

Downtown Penang is experiencing something of a property boom lately due to the Unesco Heritage City listing. I was expecting to spend close to or over a million on a shop or terrace house in Georgetown. While I dived further into heritage Penang , to my pleasant surprise, I found a lovely shop right bang in the heritage zone selling at RM351k.

The shop is located on Stewart lane, which is in the core of the Heritage zone. Obviously it is in a very bad condition but the shop is very long and has lots of commercial potential.

Unfortunately, when I called up it was already sold.... I fell into depression for 3 days, unable to sleep nor eat...

Now, that's an exaggeration. But I was really very sad to see it go. It is my hope that the buyer is not like the neighbour 2 doors away who installed an aircon sticking out right in the middle of the facade while destroying much of the beautiful louvre window.

As in any remedy of a jilted lover, the best thing to do is to find a new one. So, I set off around looking and found quite a few properties priced below RM1m. Such as the one below at Jalan Sekarat. It is a pre-war building which unfortunately was badly renovated by the owner. The most unfortunate thing is, the owner was quite proud of his renovation and insisted on pricing the property at RM600m. This is despite the less favourable location which is outside the boundary of the heritage zone.

What would one do with pre-war heritage buildings in Penang?
To me, even as an investor, such heritage buildings are not only for making money. It is for the love of the heritage, one would not only invest the money, but also the time to restore the buildings to their former glory. Obviously, this act while preserving the historic elements of the community and place, will also increase the value of the properties in the area in time to come. Brand Bon Ton is one such forward looking company. They have effectively restored a couple of rows of shophouses and also converted them for commercial value, running them as serviced residences called the Straits Collection. I would encourage one to visit their website ( and immerse yourself with the beauty.
Some wealthy people have also turned these properties into their residences, while preserving the facade and original structure of the exterior, they have fitted the interior with modern comforts fit for everyday living. One would just need to look at such similar concepts in London, Paris and even Singapore to be able to appreciate and see the success of such venture.
Do we all want to walk the streets of Penang and enjoy chic cafe's, antique shops, quaint back-packer inns and still be able to sample affordable local fares? Certainly, downtown Georgetown Penang has that charm and potential to make this happen. As long as the buildings don't fall into the wrong hands...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Preview of SixCeylon by Bolton

Earlier I blogged about the upcoming SixCeylon project by Bolton. Finally, it is out! I have just received some materials from Bolton's marketing agent, IP Global giving us a glimpse of what's in store. The Bolton Court is now in process of being demolished.

And up from its ashes, will rise SixCeylon...

It is a Freehold project, expected to be completed in Q4, 2013. They are going to have just over 200 units over 33 floors. There will be 8 units per floor, serviced by 4 lifts.

The sizes and prices are:

Type D 696sf - 1 bedroom intermediate units (beige colour below) starting from RM577k to RM732k

Type B 837sf - 1+1 bedroom intermediate units (blue colour below) starting from RM690k to RM866k

Type C 1200sf - 2 bedroom corner (red colour below) starting from RM960k to RM1.2million

Type A 1555sf - 3 bedroom corner (green colour below) starting from RM1.25m to RM1.5million

From the plan above, it seems the smaller units are all facing Angkasa Impian II. Despite the less desirable view, these are expected to be sold out early. The more desirable views are the Type A and Type B, especially the bottom corner which will have a dual KLCC and KL Tower view - and an added bonus of the red-tiled swimming pool view right beneath.

The idea is somewhat similar to the Library resort in Koh Samui... (have we anything original in KL yet? sic..)

The hanging kitchen plus all other white goods are provided while the rest of the unit will be delivered unfurnished. There appears to be a show house somewhere, perhaps will be paying that a visit soon.

While it is tempting to snatch a unit, especially the Type B 1+1 bedroom, I am mindful of the fact that one has to price the rental above RM4000/month in order to make ends meet. The market for this range of rental is a bit saturated and judging from the performance of Idaman Residence's own 1+1 units and nearby Somerset's 2 bedroom units, it is going to be very challenging.
There are also a few hundred 2 bedroom units coming up next door at Wing Tai's Verticas which will see punters pricing their units from RM6k onwards. Currently, Somerset's 2 bedrooms are struggling to fetch tenants at RM5500 to RM6000/month and with these more modern and luxurious units entering the market, the going will get tougher.
P.S. All pics above are courtesy of IP Global who is the marketing agent for SixCeylon and The Library, Koh Samui

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

It's Only Hot Cake If You Rent It Cheap

As I was trawling the internet for properties in Sunway PJS7, which apparently has been in high demand due to the neighbouring Taylors College main campus, I chanced upon some advertisments for Mutiara Perdana. This apartment is located just minutes walk from the campus' main door. One ad claim that their unit is the only one available in market currently, giving the impression that it is really hard to find.
I recently went for a survey and found that the claim is indeed true. The unit advertised for RM200k is the only one I can find for sale. The asking price also seems to be higher than the bank's valuation which is between RM150k to RM160k for these 3 bedroom units. I don't know how long it will stay in the market but when I looked around the place, I found at least 6 units available for rental.
It might be understandable considering that the semester is coming to an end and most students won't be rushing for accomodation until the intake around August. However, what I found was, the units being occupied or taken were all rented below RM1000/month for an empty unit. Fully furnished ones go for around RM1400 and some even asking for RM2000. I came across one owner who wanted RM1200 for a completely empty unit - no fittings, no furnishings... One agent told me that the unit has been in the market for a long time. The previous tenant who was paying RM800/month left and the owner now wants to increase the rent.
I don't think it will be impossible for the rental to go up in the future but at this stage, it is still too early. The campus is not yet even half it's capacity. Some owners yet to be realistic. No doubt some students are paying up to RM800 for their room but they will move as soon as they find a cheaper option. And there are owners providing this cheaper option.
Also a great concern with the building of a bridge linking the Lagoon Perdana apartments due to be completed end of this year will add another 1000 rooms into the equation. Then the market may become more realistic and the bankers' valuations may seem to be right after all...