WE first met Amphil Corp Sdn Bhd CEO and director Datuk P K Poh about two years ago when he spoke passionately about his own venture into property development with Rimbun in Embassy Row, Kuala Lumpur. Prior to that, Poh had worked for a public listed developer for 15 years before retiring as its group managing director in 2007.
However, he soon returned to the industry and together with an old friend, decided to set up his own property development company — Amphil Corp. That same year, Poh became the director and adviser of Tradewinds Corp Bhd.
City & Country visited the Rimbun site on a recent Thursday afternoon.
Embassy Row is known for its "old money" and being a preferred address as there are a number of high-end developments and embassies in the area. The drive to the site was pleasant; as we passed lush mature trees along the narrow road leading to the development, it was hard to imagine that we were just minutes away from the iconic Petronas Twin Towers.
Rimbun, which means lush or leafy greenery, is thus an apt name for the area and the project. Poh points out interesting rainbow eucalyptus trees at the entrance to the site.
Work on Rimbun, which comprises two 17-storey towers with a total of 56 units and has a gross development value of RM200 million, had begun in February 2011. To date, construction has reached the 10th floor and is expected to be completed by end-2014.
"'Exclusivity', I think, is a much abused word. It has been bandied about to apply to condos with higher prices psf but with hundreds of units. True exclusivity means you do not see your neighbours if you do not want to. Rimbun offers total exclusivity. I would liken it to a Bentley rather than a regular Mercedes or BMW," Poh says.
The built-up of the condos, excluding the penthouses, is between 3,500 and 4,500 sq ft. The 4,500 sq ft unit will have a 1,100 sq ft master bedroom, complete with a walk-in wardrobe and en suite bathroom. It will also come with a large living and dining area.
"As there are only 56 units, the residents will feel like their unit is the only one on the floor due to the configuration of separate private foyers and guest lobby. We also have sun or privacy screens in each balcony," Poh explains.
The development is expected to be launched soon. "Since the launch of our website in December 2011, we have been busy with the construction as we wanted to launch [the units] only when construction had reached a substantial stage.
"We have hit 50% completion and therefore, it is an opportune time to do so now. Our show unit is located on one of the floors and will act as one of our benchmarks where stringent checks and tweaking will be done to ensure subsequent units meet our own high standards."
Rimbun offers views of the Petronas Twin Towers and KLCC Park, the golf course at Royal Selangor Golf Club, the Royal Selangor Polo Club and the Ampang lake and park.
Rimbun's design has received the Green Mark Gold Plus provisional certification from Singapore's Building & Construction Authority.
The development will offer multiple practical green features, such as motion detectors and T5 green light bulbs in the common areas. "We have very bright lighting levels — 150 lux — for our car parks, which is twice the standard in Singapore, for security and comfort; carbon monoxide sensors for your safety; sun pipes to bring in natural light; and gentle ramps for luxurious cars, among others.
"The units have high ceilings and large spaces for better ventilation and lighting. We also provide triple-layered laminated safety glass that reduces glare and noise. Aside from that, maintenance cost is reduced due to water preservation through rainwater harvesting with drip sensors (savings of 1.3 million litres a year), a non-chemical (salt) swimming pool and photovoltaic solar panels that generate 32,000 kWh of electricity a year (annual savings of 670,000 kWh).
"The building sits on only 48% of its 47,000 sq ft (one acre) land area. Costs can only go up, so savings will increase over time," Poh explains.
He expects better rents and capital values for Rimbun's units in the future. "It is rare to put 23 green features into a project with only 56 units, but we are committed to green living and to doing our part in reducing environmental degradation and global warming.
"We have already seen this happening for commercial properties, where multinational corporations wanting to move into an office have a checklist that includes green buildings as a criterion.
"This requirement will soon spread to residential buildings with expatriates coming in from countries advocating green living. This will translate into higher rental yields and capital values for all. Thus, for Rimbun, we have a situation where the cost of the green features is borne by the developer, but the benefits are enjoyed by the residents."
Poh says the introductory price for the units is RM1,100 psf onwards and he expects the price to move up over time. "For the smallest unit (3,551 sq ft) on the lowest floor, the current price is RM3.9 million and we have a partial fit-out package worth RM300,000 for the first 10 buyers.
"The package consists of cabinets (European for the wet kitchen and SieMatic, German for the dry one) and electrical appliances, comprising induction hob, gas hob, built-in fridge, telescopic power point on the kitchen counter and pyrolytic oven, from the famous French brand De Dietrich."
So, how different is it to develop a project under his own company and a public-listed company (PLC)?
"Let me put it this way," says Poh. "This is a project I have always wanted to do, but never had the opportunity because of time and budget constraints. In a PLC, you have budgets to meet and you have to launch [a development] sometimes, even when you are not ready because you have to meet the numbers.
"You have quarterly reporting and you become so absorbed in making the numbers every quarter that your long-term plan may become your short-term plan. Many people are involved in the projects as there are so many projects going on at the same time.
"My partner and I have spent so much time on this project. We are very involved. In fact, if you ask us now how much profit we are going to make from this project, the truth is we do not know. Our concern now is to do a good project we can be proud of."
As Poh poses on a bicycle just outside the site for our photographer to demonstrate how close Rimbun is to KLCC, one cannot help but notice the pride and passion of this developer, who obviously has a love for trees and everything green.
This story first appeared in The Edge weekly edition of July 15-21, 2013.