City & Country: Interchange pull for Southville City

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AFTER incorporating a 2km stretch of commercial land along the North-South Expressway (NSE) into its Southville City mixed-use development in Bangi, Mah Sing Group Bhd is building an interchange to enhance the township’s appeal.

The 428-acre freehold development coming up along the NSE will comprise commercial hubs and retail shops, corporate and boutique office towers, gated and guarded stratified and landed residences, neighbourhood retail shops and other amenities such as primary and secondary schools, clubhouses and parks.

The project is being undertaken by Southville City Sdn Bhd, a unit of Mah Sing.

Mah Sing recently announced that it would build an interchange on the NSE — 2.5km from the existing Bangi interchange — that leads directly into its development. While the details have not been firmed up, the interchange is expected to reduce the travelling distance from Bangi to Kuala Lumpur by about a third, from almost 40km to 25km.

The interchange is also designed to connect Southville City to the universities, colleges, industrial parks, golf courses and other homes within Bangi.

 This was the intention of designing Southville City as an integrated development, Southville City Sdn Bhd chief operating officer Ong Chou Wen tells City & Country.

The project, he says, is designed to create an environment where everything is within walking distance, much like pedestrianised locations in Singapore such as Novena Square and Marina Bay Sands.

“In Bangi, typically, homes and shops are segregated, so if you need to get your groceries, you will have to drive out of your housing estate to the shops. However, we find that when people get home after work, they are reluctant to leave their immediate area, hence we put the retail [component] next to the serviced residences,” he explains.

The new road will also “activate the retail sections” of Savanna, the first phase of Southville City, he adds.

Phases that have been launched include Savanna executive suites, Avens 2½-storey and 3-storey terraced houses, Boulevard shops at Savanna and lifestyle retail shops. There will be 3,192 Savanna executive suites, measuring 956 to 1,017 sq ft. With prices starting at RM350,000, a total of 2,200 units have been released so far, of which 75% have been sold.

For Avens, there will be 112 units of 2½-storey homes and 84 units of 3-storey houses, with built-ups of 2,988 to 3,438 sq ft. Prices start at RM800,000.

The 28 units of Boulevard 3-storey shops will have built-ups of between 4,142 and 6,538 sq ft, with prices starting at RM2.4 million. Meanwhile, the 208 units of lifestyle retail shops will have built-ups of 2,643 sq ft and above.

What’s next?

Upcoming launches include Savanna Plaza, featuring 2-storey shopoffices and lifestyle apartments, which will have an estimated gross development value (GDV) of RM1.3 billion. Mah Sing is still firming up the details, but the phase is now open for registration, says Ong.

According to him, the design of the retail units pays homage to colonial architecture. The ground floor will have a double-volume ceiling while the first floor will incorporate an outdoor terrace.

The retail areas are suitable for food and beverage and lifestyle shops that cater for young adults who do not wish to be confined to offices while they work. The retail component is also open for registration.

The developer is also offering nine boutique office towers atop the “environmental deck”. The towers, to be built along a 2.5km stretch of the NSE, will be sold on an en bloc stratified basis at a gross price of RM476 psf. The floor plates and faÇade are customisable, and the towers will have IT-structured cabling systems and be fibre-optic ready. Last but not least, the buildings come with individual naming rights, Ong says.

The estimated GDV of the boutique offices, which are open for registration, is RM1.5 billion.

What are the prospects for Bangi?

Bangi is perceived as a quiet town by outsiders. Landserve Sdn Bhd executive director Tan Kim Seng says this is due to its location at the border of Selangor and Negeri Sembilan. “It is far from KL, and with a smaller population, there is limited demand. However, with the current high house prices in established locations, Bangi’s lower land cost and relatively lower primary property prices may put it in the spotlight.”

However, LaurelCap Sdn Bhd director Stanley Toh disagrees with the notion that Bangi is lifeless. “Personally, I think Bangi is vibrant. I can understand that some people might think it’s not, and it is mainly due to the spending power of the people living in the area. A vast majority are students, lecturers, factory workers and government employees.

“However, over the years, the spending power of students has started to increase and that has boosted commercial activities, especially in Bandar Baru Bangi. With the increasing number of students, there is a rising demand for entertainment and leisure activities. Hence, many developers entering Bangi are trying to fill the gap by developing street malls, shopping malls and entertainment centres.

“At the moment, there isn’t any cinema in Bangi and students would probably have to go to the Mines Shopping Centre in Seri Kembangan or Kajang to watch a movie. Hence, there is great potential in Bangi,” he says.

According to property consultants, other notable developments in Bangi are I&P Group Sdn Bhd’s Alam Sari and the proposed Serene Heights by UEM Sunrise Bhd. Launched in 2007, Alam Sari is a 432.5-acre township comprising terraced houses and semi-detached houses. Serene Heights is also a township that will mostly likely comprise landed homes.

Elsewhere in Bangi, there is EVO SoHo Suites. The leasehold project, jointly developed by Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Selangor and Andaman Realty Sdn Bhd, comprises two 32-storey blocks with 704 units on top of a shopping centre.

Also under construction is Bangi Gateway at Section 15. The mixed-use development on a six-acre site features a retail mall and office lots with a net floor area of 475,000 sq ft. Bangi Gateway is a project by K-Langat Land Sdn Bhd, a 50:50 joint venture between Golden Peninsular Holdings Sdn Bhd and KLIA Premier Holdings Sdn Bhd.

Tan and Toh concur that residential properties, for now, have the brightest prospects. “There is great potential for residential properties as the development provides good infrastructure, road connectivity and public facilities, as well as a conducive environment for family living. Moreover, house prices in places such as Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya have become unaffordable for many young families and places such as Bangi have become more sought after,” says Toh.

Landserve’s Tan says the value of terraced houses in selected parts of Bandar Bukit Mahkota, Bandar Sri Putra and Bandar Baru Bangi have risen 60% to 77% from 2010 to 2014, while condominiums — specifically IOI Palm Garden and Unipark Condominium — have appreciated by about 59% and 32% respectively since 2010.

“Residential properties have been doing well in the past five years and should continue to perform in the near future, probably because of higher house prices in established places such as Puchong, Subang and Petaling Jaya, limited supply of land there and improved infrastructure in Bangi,” he says.

However, they are less optimistic about the prospects of commercial properties in Bangi, given the small local catchment.

“Shopoffices would probably do well in a very small area in Southville, mainly those with clear visibility from the NSE and Jalan Bangi, as well as with good road connectivity. As for offices, there is a glut in the Klang Valley, and offices in Southville would only cater for the local business community,” notes Toh.

 He says the demand for properties, especially residences, will come from those working in Bangi, Cyberjaya, Putrajaya, Nilai and Seremban.

“Bangi has generally been an education hub with the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) campus being the main catalyst. There are about 25,000 students in UKM. Apart from that, there are the Malaysia France Institute and Mara Polytechnic College. A newer college is the German Institute Malaysia, which is located on the eastern flank of UKM,” he says.

“There are also two industrial estates, namely Kawasan Perindustrian Bangi and Kawasan Perindustrian MIEL Bangi Section 10. The industrial parks are fully occupied and very accessible. The infrastructure in the vicinity is good and road connections are excellent. The Bangi toll plaza is sited within a few kilometres from the industrial parks. Some of the companies there include Sony, Hitachi Electronics, Denso Malaysia, Carrier International and Permanis Warehouse.

Apart from that, Bangi boasts several government training centres such as Institut Pendidikan Guru Malaysia, Akademi Percukaian Malaysia, Institut Latihan Islam Malaysia and Pusat Latihan Dan Pemulihan Islam Malaysia.    

Demand for homes in Bangi will come from locals who wish to upgrade, those from established locations looking for more affordable housing or for investment, people working in the higher learning institutions in Bangi and residents of Nilai and Seremban who wish to move closer to Kuala Lumpur.

This article first appeared in City & Country, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on November 24 - 30, 2014.