Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Empire on Fire

The Empire Subang shopping mall today was ripped apart by a huge explosion at about 4am on Wednesday 28th Sept. Four people were injured. Luckily, no fatalities.

The Empire which has a hotel, office complex, gym and soho units was a hot project in this area, lifting property values sorrounding it. 797 sf Soho units reached a high price of RM500k from an initial launch of just over RM200k within 3 years. The blast will certainly affect property values here. We hope the owner will work towards recovering it as soon as possible.

Updated 9pm: The whole building has been evacuated and nobody has been allowed to enter. The cause is still not confirmed but according to the authorities, it is almost certain caused by gas leakage. The mall management, Mammoth has issued a statement that the building is structurally sound. However, critics say how they can be so certain without anyone being allowed in to inspect the building. Surely we should now be really concerned about the quality of work of some of Malaysia's less reputable developers. I shouldn't comment more without knowing the facts. However, we should be more discerning about the quality of our properties from now on.

Updated 29/9: So, it's confirmed now. Caused by a gas leak. This obviously reflects badly on the developer, no matter whether it is a construction defect or human negligience. In any case, this sort of thing is not supposed to happen. Humans are humans, humans are negligient. That's why construction is supposed to be fool proof. Fire insurance will expect to go up for this property. Luckily, no fatalities.

Lessons learnt: Try not to buy an apartment sharing the same building with a commercial retail mall - if you do, insist the developer is reputable and has extensive experience


What do you think about Setapak?

Coming up: More KL Sentral Stuffs

Keep yourself posted here...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Q Sentral at KL Sentral - Office Suites

MRCB of the KL Sentral monopoly has teamed up with Office supremo Quill to build a Grade A office in a slim patch between the Le Meridien hotel and future St.Regis hotel.

This is a star location considering the upcoming developments in already very congested KL Sentral. Opposite this project is the KL Sentral Park retail outlets which is nearing completion. Accessibility is however expected to be a nightmare with KL Sentral roads and access roads already heavily congested and public transport being a sham in this sham of a transport hub in Kuala Lumpur.

However, I believe despite the weakening market, Grade A offices are in demand in central locations including KL Sentral. This is despite many large corporations starting to move out to the suburbs such as Damansara Perdana, Uptown and Shah Alam. But I think MRCB and Quill has the right strategy by carving out their office suites into bite sizes for those small to medium sized companies looking for a posh address.

The above plan is typical for most floors with sizes around 1200sf-ish... And priced from RM1500psf, it is quite affordable to house about 10 to 20 employees in under and around RM2million. The cheapest office unit is peddled around RM1.6million, which is 1066sf. The corner units and those facing the Lake Gardens are priced slightly more. In terms of Feng Shui, one should really have the Lake Gardens view as the KL Sentral side includes a breath-taking view of the Sungai Besi Chinese Cemetery where the famous Mr. Yap Ah Loy, the founder of Kuala Lumpur (*depends whose history you believe in) is interned.

The launch this weekend is expected to be quite hot. This is because, MRCB has cleverly marketed the starting price as from RM420k onwards. This is not at all deceiving because you can snap up one of the so-called "Business Suites" at around RM500k per pop. Still at RM1,500psf, this sounds like a bargain except that you are staring at a small 300-ish square foot office with no windows. These tiny offices are located on the 30th to 32nd floors only and they basically occupy the center void of these floors as my very poorly blurred photos below illustrate:

Despite what anybody might say about these windowless units, in my opinion there aren't many of them... only about 20 units per floor. And it should be quite easy to find tenants among small start-ups or overseas rep offices to pay RM2000 to RM3000/month to rent them. It should not cost a lot to furnish them too. This is all to get the famed KL Sentral address and enjoy the this very trendy sky-garden somewhere on the 13th or 14th floor.

MRCB has failed miserably with their Plaza Sentral. The management sucks, the place is dirty and things falling apart. However, they are smart to partner Quill. With Quill's reputation as an experienced office player, this is very hard to go wrong.

That's just my opinion....

Friday, September 9, 2011

St.Mary Updates

Last i've checked, the 3 towers have already topped up. E&O has built show houses at the site. For the amount of postings I've made about St. Mary, some of you may have already gone zzzzz...

But to see your investment from this stage...

...to this stage...

until it has reached this stage...

...is indeed very exciting...

The actual show houses give us an exact feel and experience about the unit's layout. The immediate effect is the spacious feeling of the living area.

The unique layout where both bedrooms flanking the living area allows you to see both the other bedroom and the balcony.

But the sharpened corner of the window may need some creativity in designing the shades..

The prices are now in excess of RM1000psf, up from around RM700psf at launch. For those happy to pay more than RM1500psf (over RM1.6million), you enjoy the view of the courtyard.

and totally unblocked views of KLCC.

Still another 12 months from Vacant Possession... it is well going to be worth the wait.

Friday, September 2, 2011

ONE @ Bukit Ceylon

Yet another project in Bukti Ceylon. This one opposite Somerset Seri Bukit Ceylon is by the UOA Group. One @ Bukit Ceylon is going to be a Serviced Residence / Hotel. Unlike Seri Bukit Ceylon (Somerset), One Residency (Park Royal) or Verticas Residensi (Lanson Place), UOA is going to manage this hotel themselves and they are giving buyers a Guaranteed Return of 6%.

Being a hotel, One is laid out with long corridors 22 units per floor. There is a facility floor with swimming pool, gym, sauna etc somewhere between the car park floors and the rooms. Above that, there are 20 odd floors, consisting of:
1 x 2br unit and 9 x 411sf studio units facing One Residency and
1 x 2br unit ansd 10 x 453sf studio units facing Changkat Bukit Bintang

The most popular is the Type B 2 br unit which is 893sf facing Changkat (above). But all these are sold out despite the above a million price tag. The 2nd type of 2br units aren't as popular due to the poor layout. They have 2 bedrooms with windows, while the living room, kitchen, dining and bathrooms are without windows.

The studios are... well... pretty standard studios... If one chooses the unit facing One Residency, it won't be long before the car park in between is developed blocking all views. The Changkat view isn't that great either. Although it will be perpetually unblocked, the nightly noise from the bars in Changkat is certain to turn away tenants. So, you get to choose between 2 evils - future wall view or noise.

Pay future prices today. Is it worth it?

453sf unit on 13th floor for RM600k (RM1324psf). With 6% Guaranteed rental returns over 12 months.
640sf unit across the road at Seri Bukit Ceylon selling below RM600k (RM930psf) can be rented out at RM3500 per month (though not easy).
What do you think?
*Building pics taken off One Bukit Ceylon website without permission