New MRT line set to spur growth

This article first appeared in City & Country, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on September 18, 2017 - September 24, 2017.

Kampung Baru Sungai Buloh is one of the earliest industrial areas in Sungai Buloh

A development coming up near the Kampung Selamat MRT station

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MENTION Sungai Buloh, and what invariably comes to mind for many would be the general hospital or the numerous plant nurseries it is famed for. Few, however, are aware of its colourful history.

In the 1930s, Sungai Buloh was known for a leprosy centre and settlement established in an isolated valley in Bukit Lagong by the then British government. Spanning 568 acres, it would become the world’s second largest settlement for such a purpose.

When the disease was eradicated in the country, part of the settlement was carved out in the late 1990s to early 2000s for the development of Universiti Teknologi Mara’s medical faculty and the Sungai Buloh government hospital.

Some 78 acres were gazetted as a national heritage site.

The remaining settlers, comprising recovered leprosy patients, remained there with their families and later ventured into farming and operating plant nurseries.

Light industrial factories sprang up in Kampung Baru Sungai Buloh, which gained notoriety in 1991 for one the country’s worst disasters. An explosion at the Bright Sparklers Fireworks factory and the blaze that broke out claimed 26 lives and injured more than 100.

Today, Sungai Buloh has grown and now covers 8,410ha to 12,900ha, part of which come under the jurisdiction of the municipal council of Shah Alam, and part of it under Selayang’s.

Within its boundaries are Kampung Baru Sungai Buloh, Pekan Sungai Buloh, Kampung Paya Jaras, Kampung Baru Subang, Kampung Melayu Subang and Kampung Sungai Kayu Ara. The population is predominantly Malay, with a significant number of Chinese residents.

Amenities in the area include recreational clubs, medical facilities, shopping centres, parks and institutes of higher education, both government and private.


The game changer

Improved accessibility and the opening up of more land for development have resulted in a surge in housing schemes in Sungai Buloh, says Tang Chee Meng, chief operating officer of Henry Butcher (M) Sdn Bhd. Among them are high-end residential enclaves Sierramas and Sierramas West by Tan & Tan Developments Bhd and Valencia by Gamuda Land. Other developments are Bukit Rahman Putra by Land & General Sdn Bhd and Sunway Rahman Putra by Sunway Bhd.

The recent commencement of the Sungai Buloh-Kajang mass rapid transit (MRT) line — the first of three planned for the Klang Valley — has put the area in the spotlight. The second phase of the MRT is the proposed Sungai Buloh–Serdang–Putrajaya line.

Four stations serve the area — Sungai Buloh, Kampung Selamat, Kwasa Damansara and Kwasa Sentral. The Sungai Buloh station serves Sierramas, Sierramas West, Valencia, Bukit Rahman Putra and Bandar Baru Sungai Buloh while the Kampung Selamat station caters for Kampung Baru Sungai Buloh, Saujana Damansara and Sutera Damansara.

The Kwasa Damansara and Kwasa Sentral stations will serve Kota Damansara’s Seksyen 7, 8, 9, Subang Bestari and Bayu Damansara.

The construction of the MRT has resulted in the growth of new property developments, especially near the stations.

These include D’Sara Sentral by Mah Sing Group Bhd, SqWhere by Selangor Dredging Bhd, Residensi Suasana @ Damai by MK Land Holdings Bhd and The Zizz by Jaya Megah Buliding & Engineering Sdn Bhd near the Kampung Selamat station.

Meanwhile, the 2,330-acre township Kwasa Damansara by Kwasa Land Sdn Bhd will be served by the Kwasa Damansara and Kwasa Sentral stations.

CBRE|WTW managing director Foo Gee Jen observes that new townships and commercial sub-centres are taking shape in Sungai Buloh. Industrial properties in the area are being converted for commercial use while villages and plantation land are giving way to modern housing schemes and high-rise condominiums.

“Convenient accessibility to destinations such as the Kuala Lumpur city centre, retail centres and KL Sentral transport hub will appeal to and attract young urbanites and small family households to high-rise residential developments,” he says.

Tang concurs, saying that Sungai Buloh will become an attractive alternative for people working in KL.

Landserve Sdn Bhd managing director Chen King Hoaw says a major boost for the area will come from the two MRT lines connected to the Sungai Buloh station, which is an interchange terminal. “We expect property prices here to increase in the mid to long-term period.”

Besides MRT Phase 1, buses also ply the area while a KTM Komuter station is located next to the Sungai Buloh MRT station. The KL-Rawang line runs through the locality.

Apart from that, the area can be accessed via highways such as the Guthrie Corridor Expressway, North-South Expressway, Jalan Duta-Sungai Buloh Expressway, Damansara-Puchong Expressway and New Klang Valley Expressway.

Highways in the planning stage include the Damansara-Shah Alam Expressway (DASH) and West Coast Expressway (WCE).


Strong property growth

Foo says transit-oriented developments or transit adjacent developments, particularly high-rise residential projects, will be in demand.

According to Tang, the wide range of property projects in Sungai Buloh has led to a diverse buyer profile.

“High-end residential enclaves like Sierramas and Valencia are targeted at the higher-income group, while the upper-middle-income group can go for newer condominiums or serviced apartments such as SqWhere and D’Sara Sentral, or terraced houses in Subang Bestari and Subang 2. For the low-to-middle-income groups, there are medium-cost apartments like Danau Bayu and Sri Putra II.”

Meawhile, Chen says buyers in Sungai Buloh are predominantly from the low-middle to middle-income segment. “Single and double-storey terraced houses are seeing the most demand, although apartments are also becoming more popular.”

Property transactions at developments close to the MRT stations have grown over the past six to seven years, according to data from Tang and Chen.

Semi-detached houses in Valencia, with land areas of 3,498 to 4,069 sq ft, were transacted at RM1.55 million to RM2.8 million in 2010. In 2014, prices ranged from RM2.398 million to RM2.85 million, and a year later, between RM2.43 million and RM2.5 million.

In Subang Bestari, comprising mostly terraced houses catering for the middle-income group, a unit with a land area of 1,539 sq ft sold for RM530,000 in 2011, compared to RM700,000 for a similar property last year.

Low-cost flats in Seksyen 6 and 7 with built-ups of 603 to 614 sq ft were also not left out of the action. Units in Seksyen 6 were sold for RM80,000 to RM135,000 from 2014 to 2015. Meanwhile, units in Seksyen 7 went for RM60,000 to RM80,000 from 2010 to 2012, and RM65,000 to RM97,000 between 2013 and 2014.

As for commercial properties, 3-storey shophouses in Taman Bukit Rahman Putra with built-ups of 2,637 to 4,790 sq ft were transacted at RM650,000 to RM1 million in 2010 to 2011, increasing to RM1.2 million to RM1.39 million in 2012 to 2014.

Transaction records for detached factories in Kampung Baru Sungai Buloh show only a handful of sales from 2011 to 2016. Of factories with land areas of 21,000 to 23,000 sq ft sold, one was transacted for RM1.2 million in 2011. In 2013, the transacted price was RM2.99 million. For factories with a land area of 34,000 to 49,000 sq ft, a transaction was recorded at RM2.76 million in 2012, while last year, one was sold for RM7.9 million. Of larger factories with a land area of 71,000 to 84,000 sq ft, one went for RM2.9 million in 2012, compared to RM8 million in 2014.