Cover Story: A verdant escape in Bandar Sri Damansara

This article first appeared in City & Country, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on May 14, 2018 - May 20, 2018.

Damansara Seresta comprises two towers, one 43 storeys high and the other 49 storeys, with 452 apartments.

Damansara Seresta is located next to the Bukit Lanjan forest reserve

one of its standout facilities is a cascading waterfall

the built-ups of the units are between 1,291 and 3,165 sq ft. The indicative price is RM700 psf

Lai: Demand for non-landed properties in Bandar Sri Damansara has been rising steadily in the last five years due to a higher proportion of younger-age residents in the area

The developer owns land bank — a total of 3,281 acres with an estimated GDV of RM8.1 billion as at April 1 — in various parts of the Klang Valley

Product differentiation is important to us, therefore, we put a lot of effort in designing projects that are practical, functional and efficient. ” — Low

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The air seems cooler in Land & General Bhd’s (L&G) Damansara Seresta sales gallery in Bandar Sri Damansara, Petaling Jaya, that Thursday afternoon. With the lush Bukit Lanjan Forest Reserve nearby, the modern and lofty building exudes a sense of welcome and calmness.

L&G managing director Low Gay Teck appears within minutes of our arrival. He greets us before taking us on a private tour of the newly built sales gallery and its sleek show units. “Our upcoming development, Damansara Seresta, will have roomy balconies that will allow the residents to enjoy panoramic views of the forest reserve and the city skyline,” he says.

“We have included plenty of features that will enable the residents to enjoy nature, such as our built-in cascading waterfall,” Low continues as he points to the scale model of the development.

For a bit of background, L&G started off as a saw miller and timber trader after having secured several timber concessions. In the mid-1980s, the company expanded its business with a new management team in place.

In its present form, L&G is an investment holding company with subsidiaries that is principally engaged in property development and investment. The company is also engaged in the cultivation of rubber and oil palm, is the owner of a school building complex, and provides education services.

“What sets us apart from our peers, we believe, is that our products are innovative and down to earth as investors are spending a lot of money on buying properties. Product differentiation is important to us, therefore, we put a lot of effort in designing projects that are practical, functional and efficient. We tend to prefer products that have a natural element to them as well, like a forest reserve or a water body,” Low explains.

L&G has launched a number of successful projects in the past, such as Astoria Ampang and The Elements in Ampang, Damansara Foresta and Sri Damansara Business Park in Bandar Sri Damansara, 8trium in Sri Damansara, Sena Parc in Senawang and L&G Office Tower in Putrajaya. Most of its past projects are almost fully taken up.

L&G hopes to repeat this level of success in its upcoming development, Damansara Seresta, in Bandar Sri Damansara. “Damansara Seresta is one of our exciting launches for this year. It is the perfect blend of city living and nature,” says Low, who has been involved in the property development industry for the past 25 years.

Sitting on a 6.23-acre freehold parcel in Bandar Sri Damansara, abutting on the Bukit Lanjan Forest Reserve, Damansara Seresta has a gross development value (GDV) of RM490 million. Developed by L&G subsidiary Sri Damansara Sdn Bhd, the residential project comprises two towers, one 43 storeys high and the other 49 storeys, with 452 apartments.

The built-ups of the units are range from 1,291 to 3,165 sq ft. The layout is ample, ranging from 3 bedroom-2 bathroom units to 4 + 1 bedroom-5 bathroom units, with an indicative price of about RM700 psf. “Our selling price for this project is attractive and affordable, considering its location,” stresses Low.

Damansara Seresta is part of the 42-acre Bandar Sri Damansara township and part of the company’s Signature collection. Due to be completed in 2022, Damansara Seresta is set to be launched in 2Q2018. “So far, the response to this project has been positive. We have received about 1,000 registrations,” says Low.

 

An amalgamation of nature and connectivity

L&G recognises Damansara Seresta’s potential as a contemporary, green development for city dwellers, and is banking on the project’s location next to the scenic Bukit Lanjan Forest Reserve to sell it. “We are capitalising on the appeal of the forest reserve,” says Low, “and targeting upgraders, owner-occupiers and investors for the project.”

Damansara Seresta has the makings of a sustainable development. Inspired by its natural surroundings, it will have facilities such as a cascading waterfall, courtyard garden, tree house, pavilions, sky gym, roof garden and a 325m forest trail and deck.

“The facilities are comprehensive. The forest trail and deck, for example, will give residents a chance to walk or jog in the forest reserve,” says Low.

Other facilities include an infinity pool overlooking the forest, a children’s play zone, a bird hide (for bird watching) and a forest adventure zone. “There will also be plenty of communal spaces for social gatherings and entertaining,” says Low.

In terms of design, the towers and apartments of Damansara Seresta will have a clean and modern feel. “The overall aesthetic is minimalist and modern but not absurdly so as we would like to keep the development timeless,” says Low. “The units encompass three key factors: efficiency, practicality and functionality. We are ensuring that there is no waste of space in the units.”

He points out that Damansara Seresta is in a desirable location in the mature neighbourhood of Bandar Sri Damansara. “Everything is within 5 to 30 minutes away. Some of the nearby amenities are The Curve shopping mall, IKEA, 1 Utama Shopping Centre, Publika, The Starling Mall, Sri Damansara Club, Valencia Golf & Country Club, Ramsay Sime Darby Hospital, Selayang Hospital, Sungai Buloh Hospital and KPJ Damansara Specialist.”

Schools in the area include SJK (C) Desa Jaya 2, Sri Bestari International School, Twintech International School, IGB International School and Sri KDU International School. “We shall also be providing discounts on first-year school fees at Sri Bestari International School for residents of Damansara Seresta,” adds Low.

In terms of connectivity and accessibility, Damansara Seresta will be close to the future Sri Damansara West MRT station, Kepong Sentral KTM Komuter station and Sungai Buloh Integrated Transport Terminal. “We will offer exclusive shuttle service from Damansara Seresta once it is completed,” says Low. The development is accessible via MRR2, Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong, Sungai Buloh, the New Klang Valley Expressway, Penchala Link and DUKE 2.

“With the completion of MRT2, we believe this area will be more sought after. Damansara Seresta will have good capital appreciation in the long term for what it has to offer. Our hope is for this development to prosper and for the people to look up to our developments as examples of nature living. With this, we hope to strengthen our presence in property development,” says Low.

 

An established neighbourhood

“Demand for landed properties in Bandar Sri Damansara has been strong because the prices there are lower compared with those in nearby areas such as Desa ParkCity, Sunway SPK Damansara, Bandar Utama and Mutiara Damansara,” says One Sunterra Properties Sdn Bhd principal Sara Lai.

“Meanwhile, demand for non-landed properties in Bandar Sri Damansara has been rising steadily in the last five years due to a higher proportion of younger-age residents in the area compared with 15 years ago.

 “Currently, the best-selling property type in Bandar Sri Damansara is landed homes while condominiums are gaining in popularity among the younger crowd.”

 According to Lai, the average price of landed residential properties in Bandar Sri Damansara is between RM600 and RM700 psf while the average price of non-landed residential properties is between RM400 and RM800 psf.

As for Bandar Sri Damansara’s target market, Lai says residential properties would attract mostly owner-occupiers among young couples and families. She says some of the key drivers of Bandar Sri Damansara are the nearby schools, colleges, malls, medical centres and parks, and its connectivity.

“In terms of the outlook for the area, it will benefit from the opening of the Sri Damansara Link and commencement of MRT2 in 2021. The latter will have two stations, namely the Sri Damansara East MRT station (adjacent to Damansara Avenue) and Sri Damansara West MRT station (near 8trium Bandar Sri Damansara),” she adds.

 

Future plans

On some of the challenges developers face in property development, L&G’s Low says, “One of our challenges is to hand over products that exceed what we had promised in terms of quality and features. Another is unskilled labour, thus constant monitoring of projects during the construction period is critical.”

The developer owns land bank — a total of 3,281 acres with an estimated GDV of RM8.1 billion as at April 1 — in various parts of the Klang Valley, namely Ampang, Diamond City, Senawang, Bandar Sri Damansara, Shah Alam, Seri Kembangan and Serendah in Johor and Sungai Petani in Kedah.

“We are still looking at potential land acquisitions in prime areas in the Klang Valley. Perhaps now is an opportune time to find good buys at attractive prices. With our fairly strong balance sheet, we are able to look at acquiring more land,” says Low.

“For the rest of the year, we are planning to launch projects in the middle to upper-middle range [up to RM1 million per unit]. We feel that the demand and supply for products in this range will achieve equilibrium and make a comeback to the market.”

In terms of marketing, Low says the developer plans to provide value-for-money products for now, working closely with consultants to conceptualise its development plans and going through many rounds of changes and amendments.

He adds, “In some projects, for example Damansara Seresta, we are able to offer our buyers more value because of the lower cost of land as it was acquired many years ago.

“A lot of developers have scaled back their launches and embarked on affordable housing schemes. Moving forward, we hope that there will be a relaxation in stamp duty, loan approvals and end-financing for purchasing properties.

“We will be launching our residential housing scheme in Sena Parc, Senawang, and plan to continue to work on our Signature Collection range, such as Damansara Foresta and Damansara Seresta. On the international front, we still have our ongoing bungalow project in Hidden Valley in Melbourne. Apart from that, we don’t have plans to venture into other international markets for the time being.

“We will also launch projects in Shah Alam U10 and serviced apartments at The Mines by 4Q2018. We will give more details of these projects closer to their launch dates.”