Links of change

Traffic gridlock will be eliminated when the Duta-Segambut link is fully open.

The Edge Malaysia, 23 October 2006


New residential and commercial projects and highways are giving added impetus to the rejuvenation of Jalan Ipoh and its surroundings. JENNIFER GOMEZ and FINTAN NG look at the changing face of these neighbourhoods.

The area encompassing Jalan Ipoh, Sentul and Segambut, in the past, did not live up to expectations of areas sitting on the fringe of the nation's capital city. A drive around these neighbourhoods would have revealed rather haphazard planning with old-looking shops and residential sections that seemed to have been left behind by the rapid development of other areas. In contrast, other KL addresses such as Ampang, Bangsar and even Old Klang Road have gone on to sport improved looks and record healthy capital appreciation of property values.

But that is not to say these three suburbs on the city's northern fringes lacked appeal. In fact, Jalan Ipoh and its surroundings are known for their range of tile shops and bridal galleries. Then there's the food attraction — from Chinese coffeeshops to Indian curry outlets. The area is also dotted with a number of places of worship, mainly temples and churches. It's also the place to go if you want to get work done on your car at the many motor workshops there.

But if Jalan Ipoh had been left behind previously, the scenario is fast changing, says Metro Homes Sdn Bhd director See Kok Loong, who thinks developers are drawn to the area as land in prime city locations has become scarce.

"Landowners in Jalan Ipoh would want better use of their tracts now. For instance, they would want to convert their old factory units. These are no longer suitable in their original form, given the transformation of the area, and can make way for better things, like what Low Yat is doing with its Rivercity mixed development. The other factor prompting change is that as main city areas are developed, places like these, which are not too far from the city centre, become more appealing. This is further aided by new infrastructure put in place in these areas to make them more accessible. Infrastructure is not only being built by the government but with the help of developers as well, for instance, YTL Corp's involvement in the new Sentul Link project," he adds.

Apart from the link which connects Lebuhraya Mahameru with Jalan Ipoh and Sentul, other infrastructure planned include the Duta-Segambut link that is under construction and the widening of Jalan Ipoh, scheduled for completion next year. Then there is the 18km Duta–Ulu Kelang Expressway (DUKE) which connects the Jalan Duta expressway with Hulu Kelang.

Sentul Link directly benefits YTL Land & Development's Sentul East and West developments, significantly cutting travel time from Lebuhraya Mahameru to Jalan Perhentian (Sentul East), especially during peak hours, notes Malathi Thevendran, executive director of Jones Lang Wootton. DUKE will benefit the Sentul Pasar area and developments in the Wangsa Maju/Ulu Kelang area.

"In recent years, we have recorded more developers buying landbank in the area or developing new projects with concepts commanding higher prices. The Jalan Ipoh area is fully developed and although it will still enjoy better access, DUKE is expected to have less of a positive impact on property values in this location," Malathi notes. Meanwhile, the Duta-Segambut Link will benefit the Sri Hartamas, Mont'Kiara, Segambut and Jalan Ipoh areas.

Analysing the impact

New expressways and highways, which improve accessibility and reduce travel time, generally have a positive impact on property values, says Malathi. This, she adds, is usually seen in new housing schemes or townships in the more remote residential areas.

Sentul Link has improved traffic flow in the Jalan Ipoh/Sentul vicinity.

However, she opines that existing houses in the Jalan Ipoh/Sentul area are not likely to benefit very much in terms of value appreciation from the new infrastructure as they are already generally "accessible", more so because most of these houses are old and do not form part of a well-planned housing scheme. "Higher traffic volume and highways directly cutting over and across residential areas may even have a negative impact on residential values in affected areas," she adds.


Malathi notes that valuations show there has not been any significant increase in values, both for residential and commercial properties in the Jalan Ipoh, Sentul and Segambut vicinities, compared with selected areas in the city which recorded greater increases in value because of infrastructure improvements. This, Malathi says, could also be due to limited transactions in the area since most of the end-users are owner-occupiers as opposed to investors. However, there has been an increase in values due to time and general upgrading of the area, she says.


Metro Homes' See agrees, saying that value increases for Jalan Ipoh would be gradual. "Current prices are very reasonable... perhaps they could escalate by 5% over the next two to five years," he says. However, he is more upbeat about Sentul due to the Sentul Link. "As the landscape in Sentul changes, property prices are bound to increase between 10% and 15% in the next two to five years," he estimates.


Changing with the times


Malathi says the image of Sentul, historically associated with the railways and considered a working class area, is slowly changing with the redevelopment and rebranding of Sentul by YTL. "Jalan Ipoh and Segambut have also not been as popular as residential areas within a similar radius from the city centre, due to the majority of residences being old and developed in small pockets. There are also many small and medium industries and the limited land bank does not offer much opportunity for new developments," she notes.


Nevertheless, the new infrastructure will support developments coming up in the area, and give the market more confidence and comfort to invest in these projects, she adds. Malathi highlights the examples of Hartamas and Segambut, where new locations have become more exposed, thanks to the excellent infrastructure network. "The Sprint highway, with the Penchala-Kerinchi Link, NKVE and Duta-Segambut link under construction, are changing the face of Segambut by enhancing its accessibility, which has a positive effect on potential property values. What used to be a mid-market type of location in Segambut has turned around in the past few years and more high-end residential projects are being developed," she offers.


Developers' take

(Left to right) Malathi: The image of Sentul is slowly changing with the rebranding by YTL. See: Prime city locations have become scarce. Yeoh: The value of The Tamarind has seen a remarkable 45% increase since its launch.

YTL Land & Development's executive director Datuk Yeoh Seok Kian shares Malathi's views, saying it is a proven theory that enhanced connectivity increases property values. "Examples would include the New Pantai Expressway [NPE] that has driven the appreciation of prices in areas like Taman Desa, Seputeh and our Pantai Hillpark. Since Sentul Link was introduced, both our residential projects in the East — The Tamarind and The Saffron — have an uninterrupted route that leads residents directly to their doorstep. This has resulted in better demand for our homes, as connectivity is a key priority for homebuyers. The value of The Tamarind has seen a remarkable 45% increase since its launch price, while The Saffron registered sales of 90% in over four months. Last month, we concluded our latest sale for The Maple at an all-time high of RM400 psf — double our initial launch price," he offers.


Yeoh goes on to say that accessibility improvements or additions are more critical for an area like Sentul, as the regeneration is not just about its physical environment but also the renewal of its community, and its overall "wealth". He adds that Sentul East is also served by two existing train lines (KTM Komuter and Star LRT), and a 15-minute ride on the KTM Komuter connects to KL Sentral and further to KLIA via the ERL. The Duta-Segambut link, he says, will cut travel time from Sentul West to Mont'Kiara to just 15 minutes.


"A new lease of life" is what Low Yat Group marketing, sales and business development senior manager Daniel Ong says is happening to Jalan Ipoh and its surroundings now. Low Yat is behind the 9.6-acre Rivercity mixed development of residential and commercial properties.


"The area used to be more of a commercial hub, but is slowly developing a residential focus catering to the upper-middle income groups based on the current lifestyle concept developments. As such, ongoing infrastructure projects will ensure that there are no future inconveniences and will give an impetus to the rejuvenation of Jalan Ipoh as well as boost property values," he says. Ong goes on to add that with property development in Mont'Kiara moving towards Segambut Dalam, the infrastructure projects are essential to improved traffic flow.


Bioford Development Sdn Bhd managing director Terry Chean, whose Putra Majestik development is located off 2˝ mile Jalan Ipoh, is confident the improved accessibility will draw more people. "Jalan Ipoh is an old street and although well known among locals, it needs to be upgraded for the area to become more commercially active and vibrant," he says. Having purchased the 4.86-acre Putra Majestik site for over RM20 million about a year back, Chean says that they could be looking to purchase more land in the area.


Beneton Properties Sdn Bhd director Chan Kin Meng echoes Chean's sentiments, adding that there is already a lot of activity along Jalan Ipoh. However, he adds that any impact from infrastructure projects will only be realised over the next three to five years. Beneton is developing Viva Residency, a residential-cum-commercial project along the Jalan Ipoh 4th mile.


"A more immediate impact will be the ease in traffic flow. I used to take 40 minutes to get to the Jalan Duta roundabout, but now traffic has eased somewhat. Jalan Ipoh is a 10-minute drive from KLCC and improved accessibility will bring in more people and this will be good for the commercial component of Viva Residency as it enjoys a Jalan Ipoh frontage," Chan says.


Brem Holding Bhd managing director Khoo Chai Kaa agrees that the Sentul Link and flyover at the Segambut roundabout will benefit its three-acre leasehold development, but he is more excited about the proposed Jalan Segambut–Mont'Kiara upgrading work that will also link to DUKE and the Segambut flyover.


"The property values of our 80-acre freehold Bukit Prima Pelangi [located between Mont'Kiara and Segambut] depend on this because it'll complete the accessibility of the area," he says, adding that the first phase of the development, comprising 140 units of 2-storey terraced houses priced from RM369,000 to RM682,000 and 388 units of apartments priced from RM122,800 to RM162,000, was launched in 2003. "All the units were sold within a month," Khoo says. He does not rule out looking for more land, saying the improved infrastructure makes the area even more attractive for development.

The Tamarind

Snapshots of new developments


Sentul East and West

This RM7 billion development over 294 acres in Sentul will comprise 7,000 residential units, offices and retail outlets and is expected to be ready in the next seven to eight years.


Since the masterplan to convert the old marshalling yard and golf course was introduced four years ago, three products have been launched — The Tamarind (left), The Saffron in Sentul East and The Maple in Sentul West, with a combined value of RM415 million.


The Tamarind and The Saffron cater for younger homeowners as the units are relatively smaller and overall development more vibrant. Sentul West, on the other hand, caters for families that require larger homes and a more leisurely lifestyle. The key features in Sentul West are a 35-acre park, the KL Performing Arts Centre and a koi centre. YTL handed over The Tamarind, a 498-unit project, in June last year, while the 467-unit Saffron has notched up 90% sales since its soft launch in March.



The RM1 billion Rivercity taking shape over a 9.6-acre site along Jalan Ipoh is by Sem Siong Industries Sdn Bhd, a member of the Low Yat Group. The latter has been in the area since 1947 and owns 13 units of 3-storey shoplots along the road. The warehouses behind these shoplots also belong to Low Yat and these will make way for Rivercity, which comprises three 28-storey condominium blocks and a commercial complex with a shopping mall, offices and a 230-room hotel-cum-serviced apartments. To date, the first two condominium blocks with 382 units are 90% sold except for bumiputera units. A third 192-unit block launched last September is 70% sold. The condominiums are scheduled for completion next year. The units have built-ups of 1,215 to 1,650 sq ft and are priced from RM267,000 to RM426,000.


Putra Majestik

The RM200 million Putra Majestik is a 4.86-acre freehold development comprising a commercial component called Summer Avenue and a residential component called Summer Palace. It is Bioford Development Sdn Bhd's maiden project and is located just off Jalan Ipoh's 2˝-mile and will be completed by early 2009.


There will be 4-storey shopoffices, 1-storey shops and serviced residences. The shopoffices are priced from RM1.58 million to RM3.6 million while the 1-storey shops are priced from RM299,000 to RM400,000. The shopoffices are 80% taken up while the 1-storey shops are 80% booked. The serviced residences come with built-ups of 1,004 sq ft to 1,340 sq ft. They are priced from RM195,000 to RM330,000. To date, 30% of the 203 units in one of the blocks have been sold.


Viva Residency

Sustain Visions Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Beneton Properties Sdn Bhd, is developing Viva Residency (above), a RM42 million residential-cum-commercial project on a 2.5-acre site along Jalan Ipoh's 4th mile. Completion is slated for mid-2009.

Viva Residency comprises 214 condominium units and a mall with net lettable area of over 70,000 sq ft. Beneton plans to lease the mall space but has not finalised the rates. The lots are flexible in size and will depend on the needs of tenants. The condominium units come with built-ups of 840 to 1,216 sq ft and are priced from RM163,880 to RM300,000. There are 10 cabana units with built-ups of 1,100 sq ft and priced at RM200,000. The residential component is currently over 30% sold.


Kepong Brem Mall/Crystal Crown Kepong

Brem Holding Bhd is developing a 14-storey shopping mall-cum-offices and a 10-storey three-star hotel on a three-acre leasehold site at the Jalan Ipoh-Jalan Kuching junction at a total investment cost of RM170 million. The hotel, Crystal Crown Kepong, will open early next year while Kepong Brem Mall will be completed at the end of next year. The rental rate for the office space will be at RM1.20 psf while rates for the retail space have not been finalised.

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