Cover Story: ‘We expect demand for the project to be strong’

This article first appeared in City & Country, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on December 23, 2019 - December 29, 2019.

Terraces comprises one 34-storey block with a GDV of RM224.2 million

The interiors of Terraces will be spacious, minimalist and practical

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Blessed with coastal breezes and frontages, Penang Island continues to thrive despite the downward trend in the general property market. Amid the thoroughfares lined with colonial buildings and pre-war shophouses, new developments are springing up. One of them is IJM Land Bhd’s Terraces Condominium in Bukit Jambul.

“Located on a hilly terrain, our latest offering, Terraces, will be built on the last parcel in our Bukit Jambul development,” IJM Land Bhd managing director Edward Chong tells City & Country.

The developer is sanguine about the residential project. “We are confident about the take-up. We expect demand for the project to be strong, especially with the help of the Home Ownership Campaign. We are targeting owner-occupiers, especially young families, couples and first-time homebuyers,” says Chong.

“The project is worthwhile for investors too, as there are a lot of students [especially those from the northern states] and foreign students in the area who seek to rent. Higher educational institutions such as INTI International College Penang is located in the area.”

Set to be launched in the first quarter of next year, Terraces has a gross development value (GDV) of RM224.2 million. Occupying a 9.24-acre leasehold parcel in the undulating Bukit Jambul, the development will comprise one 34-storey block with 410 condominiums.

Due to be completed in 2024, the project will have 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom units with built-ups of either 925 or 950 sq ft each. “The units will have ample space, the sizes of which are what we believe to be the highest in demand [for our target market]. We would like to ensure that our buyers will be able to live there for the long term … the kind of home where they can grow their families,” says Chong.

The units have an indicative price of RM550 psf, or from RM531,000 each. “Considering our spacious 900 plus sq ft units, our prices are competitive compared with other products in the area. For the same price, those other products may have units that are only about 500 sq ft each,” he notes.

“We have [always] observed the market thoroughly before launching a product such as Terraces. Ultimately, it is a combination of all the right factors. Our aim is to design the right product with the right pricing [for the respective locations].”

In 2010, IJM Land launched The Address, which comprises two residential towers with 148 condos, including 24 duplex units, on a 5.4-acre leasehold parcel in Bukit Jambul. The units were priced from RM625,000. “Our past developments in Bukit Jambul have done well. The Address is fully taken up,” says Chong.

According to the developer, Terraces has gained keen interest among potential buyers. “We have opened for registration. So far, the project has about 1,500 registrants,” Chong adds.


A mature and scenic area

Situated near the Penang Golf Club as well as forest reserve and gardens in Bukit Jambul, Terraces has verdant surroundings and will appeal to nature lovers. “The overall site offers picturesque views of the hills and greenery. It is quite unique,” opines Chong. “I would say it is the Penang equivalent to Bukit Antarabangsa or Taman Melawati in Kuala Lumpur.”

In terms of design, Terraces will exude a contemporary feel. Based on its artist’s impressions, its building façade appears to have a sleek, tri-coloured effect. “For the interiors, we have designed the areas and units to be minimalist, spacious and practical,” he says.

Facilities will include a 3-storey car park. “Every unit will come with two parking bays,” he adds. There will be a facilities podium on Level 4 that will have a forest court, outdoor gym, multipurpose hall, barbecue lounge, jogging track, surau, get-together plaza, reading lounge, Jacuzzi, swimming pool, wading pool, children’s playground, sun deck and parents’ hut, among others.

“Bukit Jambul is a very established area in Penang,” notes Chong. “It is a 10 to 15-minute drive from the Penang International Airport (6km away), Penang Bridge (10km away) and Second Penang Bridge, which is a bonus.”

Apart from the Penang Golf Club, other landmarks and amenities in the area include Hotel Equatorial Penang, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Vistana Hotel, Penang International Commercial City (PICC), Subterranean Penang International Convention and Exhibition Centre (SPICE), Eastin Hotel, Queensbay Mall, Udini Square and Tesco.

Terraces is accessible via the North-South Expressway, Lebuh Bukit Jambul, Lebuhraya Bayan Lepas, Lebuhraya Jelutong, Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, Jalan Bukit Gambir and Jalan Tun Dr Awang. As for public transport hubs, there is the Bukit Jambul bus hub, Simpang Ampat railway station and Bukit Jambul Complex taxi station.

Raine & Horne International Zaki + Partners director Michael Geh says Bukit Jambul has a strategic location.  “It is close to learning institutions such as USM and INTI International College Penang. It is also worth noting that the area has quick and easy access to the Penang International Airport and is also not too far from Balik Pulau.”

According to Geh,  Bukit Jambul offers more landed properties, and most residents are owner-occupiers. High-rises such as Terraces are less common there. “The area has predominantly bungalows and very few condominiums.

“However, we predict the demand (take-up and rental) for a high-rise such as Terraces to perform well due to the location and its proximity to the schools in Bukit Jambul.

“Bukit Jambul is a popular area because of its proximity to the Bukit Jambul [hill]. There are many visitors, particularly hikers that frequent the area.”

 Additionally, Penang is still the leading state when it comes to attracting foreign direct investments. In the first half of the year, the state saw an FDI of RM9.21 billion.


Market challenges and future plans

Chong says, “The market is still challenging but we believe that it has stabilised. If you observe between last year and this year [in terms of the volume of transactions], it has been flattish, but perhaps it is a sign that the market is not going down further.

“IJM Land’s strategy has always been consistent. Our best-performing product range does vary location. Generally, across the country, especially in the Klang Valley, products priced between RM400,000 and RM900,000 are still doing well [and this includes high-rise developments]. Landed residential developments that are priced up to RM1 million are still doing well,” he adds.

“We are targeting RM1.5 billion to RM1.7 billion worth of launches until the end of our financial year (March 31, 2020).”

According to Chong, one of the projects that the developer plans to launch in the next six months is Starling @ Bandar Rimbayu in Selangor. “Starling will have a GDV of about RM500 million and comprise 680 units of 20ft 60ft, 2-storey link houses.”

The units will have built-ups of 1,554 sq ft each, with an indicative selling price of RM652,000. “Starling will have good starter homes that are also suitable for those who are moving out of condos. For this project, we are targeting young couples and families in the area.”

IJM Land also plans to launch the second parcel of Riana Dutamas in Segambut, Kuala Lumpur. The project will have a GDV of RM585 million and is targeted to be launched in 1Q2020. “Parcel 2 of Riana Dutamas will be our next big launch. It will comprise 921 apartment units with built-ups of 720 to 1,210 sq ft each,” reveals Chong. The units will have a selling price of RM600 psf.

Set up in 1989, IJM Land has a vast portfolio of townships, offices, commercial properties and landed and high-rise residences in Greater Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Pahang, Negeri Sembilan, Johor, Sabah and Sarawak.

The property arm of IJM Corp Bhd, it was privatised and made a wholly-owned subsidiary of the group in 2015. Its notable projects include Seremban 2 in Negeri Sembilan, Pantai Sentral Park in Kuala Lumpur, and Nusa Duta and Sebana Cove in Johor.

At present, IJM Land has about 3,800 acres of undeveloped land bank worth RM40.35 billion in Malaysia, China and the UK. “We are occupied with our current land bank. However, we may be interested if we come across parcels that are [strategically located],” says Chong.

“IJM Land has achieved total sales of RM1.7 billion for FY2019 so far. This was underpinned our well-established townships and well-received projects such as Residensi Suria Pantai in Pantai Sentral Park (Kuala Lumpur), Alam Suria Enclave in Shah Alam 2 (Selangor) and Ara Impian in Seremban 2. Our focus on affordable and mid-range products will continue in FY2020,” says Chong.