Cover Story: ‘Focusing on affordable phases first’

This article first appeared in City & Country, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on February 18, 2019 - February 24, 2019.

An artist’s impression of the 2-storey terraced homes in Phase 1

Daunan Worldwide will have a 13.3-acre man-made lake with four ‘islands’ that will be linked via a boardwalk

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Despite the soft property market that is likely to persist, Worldwide Holdings Bhd plans to continue expanding its property business with four new launches this year.

Initially known as Tholec Ltd, the company was formed as a private limited plantation company in 1965 and was listed on the Malaysia and Singapore stock exchanges in 1967. It took on its current name in 1971 and was involved in a diverse range of industries, including property development and investment, timber trading, infrastructure development, television news broadcasting, solid waste management as well as overseas investment and investment holding.

Worldwide Holdings was taken private in 2008 and is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Selangor. The company has four main businesses today, namely property development, environmental management services, investment holding and medical device manufacturing.

One of its new property projects is Daunan Worldwide, a RM2.2 billion, 439-acre township in Alam Perdana, Selangor. Phase 1 will be launched next month. The leasehold development will have 14 phases that are expected to be completed over the next 10 years, depending on the state of the country’s economy. In total, the project will have 2,546 two-storey terraced houses and 1,300 units of Rumah Selangorku.

“If the economy grows and the property market picks up, the development will definitely be completed over a shorter time,” Rosli Ismail, chief operating officer for real estate at Worldwide Holdings, tells City & Country in an exclusive interview. The company acquired the 439-acre tract in September 2017 and construction started this year, he says.

Properties at Daunan Worldwide will range from affordable houses to high-end residences. “Due to the soft market, our strategy for the next two years is to focus on the affordable phases first. At the same time, we are submitting plans for approval for the premium products. So, when the economy recovers, we will be ready,” says Rosli. The units in the first six phases of Daunan Worldwide are tentatively priced at under RM500,000 each

after rebates while the remaining phases will have higher-end products, he adds.

According to Rosli, the company has reduced the size of its built-ups, from 1,800 sq ft at its previous developments to 1,500 sq ft at Daunan Worldwide. “Previously, we had priced our products at above RM500,000 each but because of the current property market situation, we have changed our strategy to having smaller built-ups. So, Daunan Worldwide will be our first project with units of 1,500 sq ft each.

“Our strategy is to launch these affordable products first, before moving on to the premium products. With the current government, we are confident that in three years’ time, the property market will recover. The property market follows a cycle. We believe things should be better by 2021,” he says.

The developer is targeting first-time homebuyers for the project. “We are targeting the young, new, millennial purchasers, especially those working in the surrounding areas, the majority of whom are Malays, as well as upgraders from Bandar Puncak Alam, Shah Alam, Kota Damansara, Bukit Subang, Subang Bestari, Subang Jaya, Meru, Kapar and Bandar Bukit Raja,” explains Rosli.

“We are also targeting those working at UiTM (Universiti Teknologi MARA), which is located 2km to 3km from the development, as well as investors.”

Phase 1, named Halya, has a gross development value (GDV) of RM67.31 million and will comprise 147 units of 20ft by 65ft 2-storey terraced houses with individual titles. There will be two unit types, both of which will have four bedrooms and three bathrooms, with built-ups of 1,361 to 1,386 sq ft and priced from RM505,000 to RM626,000 per unit, before rebates.

Rosli reveals that the units will have a spacious, open-plan concept, allowing residents to customise their living, dining and kitchen spaces according to their needs. The houses are expected to be completed in 2021.

A wellness township

Inspired by Worldwide Holdings’ three pillars of wellness, comprising physical, social and environmental wellness, there will be urban farming plots at every residential phase or cluster in Daunan Worldwide as well as children’s playgrounds and landscaped green areas. Residents will be able to grow plants at the urban farming plots, with about half an acre designated for this purpose in each cluster, says Rosli.

The concept was also inspired by the area’s agricultural roots. “It used to be an oil palm estate, with those living there mostly from the industry or farmers,” he says, adding that Worldwide Holdings wants to cultivate this interest in farming among residents to encourage them to socialise with one another. The developer will also manage and care for the plots.

“This concept has been done in Singapore, whereby the HDB (Housing and Development Board) flats have open spaces for planting that are managed by the community and joint management body. It has been very successful, and we want to bring this concept here,” Rosli explains.

Daunan Worldwide will also have a 13.3-acre man-made lake with four “islands” that will be linked via a boardwalk. “This is to create a centralised meeting and gathering spot for all residents,” says Rosli.

Other amenities include a 1.8km jogging track, an international-standard football field, a promenade by the lake and a landscaped forest by the lake. Meanwhile, proposed amenities are two schools, a clinic, a surau and a mosque. The developer also plans to build a neighbourhood commercial centre.

In terms of security, each phase or cluster will have a single access, or one entry and exit point, with guards. The township will also have CCTV and a smart traffic light system.

Last year, the project’s master plan received honorary mention at the Malaysia Landscape Architecture Awards, under the Landscape Master Plan Awards category, by the Institute of Landscape Architects Malaysia.

According to Rosli, Worldwide Holdings started marketing the development in the middle of last year and soft-launched it in December. “So far, the response has been good and encouraging. We have 30 bookings, which is very good for us.

“We will soon have an urban farming sample at the new sales gallery [at the project site itself] for people to experience this concept and our staff will be available to guide them on how it is done,” he says, adding that he is optimistic the project will do well because of the attractive price points. Meanwhile, interested purchasers can visit the developer’s sales gallery at Puncak Bestari in Bandar Puncak Alam.

In the vicinity of Daunan Worldwide are schools, UiTM Puncak Alam’s main campus, a mosque, hypermarkets such as Tesco and Econsave, fast food outlets like McDonald’s, KFC and Domino’s Pizza, banks and petrol stations. An upcoming general hospital in Puncak Alam is targeted for completion in 2020.

The development enjoys easy access to Kuala Lumpur via the KL-Kuala Selangor Expressway (LATAR Expressway), Guthrie Corridor Expressway and North-South Expressway (PLUS Expressway), and will be connected to the upcoming Damansara-Shah Alam Elevated Expressway (DASH).

Other developments in the area include Worldwide Holdings’ Puncak Bestari and Puncak

Bestari 2, Eco World Development Group Bhd’s Eco Grandeur, KLK Land Sdn Bhd’s Bandar Seri Coalfields, LBS Bina Group Bhd’s LBS Alam Perdana, MKH Bhd’s Hillpark, IJM Land Bhd’s Shah Alam 2 and Glomac Bhd’s Saujana Utama.

“Due to urbanisation, many big property players are developing projects closer to Kuala Selangor and we are where some of the big names are at,” says Rosli.

He believes there is still demand for residential properties. “Most buyers are looking for landed properties with individual titles and priced below RM500,000 for their own occupation. With its detailed plans and the rapid development in its surroundings, Daunan Worldwide will be a liveable township with all amenities ready for its future residents.”

Other upcoming launches

Worldwide Holdings has three other launches in the pipeline, including those of two freehold Malay Reserved pocket developments in Bangi. They are Residensi Sg Purun, with a GDV of RM44 million and 69 two-storey terraced houses, and Residensi Sg Merab, which has a GDV of RM36 million and will have 61 two-storey terraced houses. The third launch is that of Dillenia in Shah Alam, which has a tentative GDV of RM155 million and will see 107 leasehold semi-detached units and bungalows over 15.14 acres.

The developer plans to launch the Sg Purun and Sg Merab projects in the first half of the year. In the second half of the year, it plans to launch Phase 2 of Daunan Worldwide as well as Dillenia.

“The Sg Purun and Sg Merab projects are not premium developments but are priced slightly higher than Daunan Worldwide and will have bigger built-ups,” Rosli reveals. As for Dillenia, whose site was acquired by Worldwide Holdings from Kumpulan Lebar Daun in September last year, the company hopes to receive building plan approvals for the project next month.

Meanwhile, the developer’s ongoing projects are Puncak Bestari 2 (GDV: RM60 million; 90 two-storey terraced houses), Amber at Subang Bestari (GDV: RM150 million; 41 bungalows) and a private estate project in Camillo, Western Australia (GDV: A$4 million or RM13 million; 16 green title lots).

Worldwide Holdings’ property portfolio comprises landed and high-rise residential, retail and commercial properties at Subang Bestari and Precinct Alami in Shah Alam, Puncak Bestari in Bandar Puncak Alam as well as industrial properties at Kapar Bestari, Klang.