UNCOVERING THE BEAUTY OF SENTUL
From its days when most people would think twice before investing, Sentul has now been transformed into a highly sought after place.
The Sentul neighbourhood had been plagued with a blemished past, but it is already shedding this stigma among home buyers and investors, and set to become the latest and among the last localities that is close to the Kuala Lumpur city to experience a major rejuvenation in years to come.
Sentul was founded in the late 1800s when the first Malayan railway line opened between Taiping and Port Weld, which gradually expanded to connect the North and South of Malaya. The town claimed the honour of establishing Sentul Works, one of the finest integrated engineering railway workshops in the country in early 1900s. This development helped to elevate Sentul’s prominence and grew its community.
However, it declined into a run-down aging district of Kuala Lumpur in the 1960s, due to the diminishing economic and social dependence on the railway line. Since then, up until a few years ago, Sentul had suffered from a negative image of old dilapidated buildings, a large squatter population, high-crime rates and gangsterism.
As a result, despite the fact that Sentul’s impressive accessibility to various parts of the Klang Valley via the Duta-Segambut Highway, Damansara-Ulu Kelang Expressway and the Sentul Link, combined with public transportation infrastructure such as the Light Rail Transit (LRT) and the KTM Kommuter stations, Sentul was often overlooked when compared with other real estate investment locations.
However, in recent years, many of these issues have been addressed and resolved, with the squatter population, high-crime rates and gangsterism declining. Like dark raining clouds dispersing to reveal the clear blue sky, it is becoming clearer that Sentul is on the rise, and that its investment prospects are promising.
Property agent Dianni Tai from ECG Affirm Properties tells Property Insight, “Whenever people mentioned about Sentul, they will think about a lot of old commercial shop, buildings and often plagued by criminal activities. But the mixture of old and new buildings, stratified properties seem to be still the major preference by the residents and investor.”
Today, Sentul is experiencing a rapid transformation, with several big developers having development projects in this neighbourhood.
YTL Land & Development’s flagship real estate development is in Sentul, and they set the benchmark for luxury living in this neighbourhood. Its Sentul Masterplan has been honoured as runner-up in the FIABCI-International Prix D’Excellence Awards in 2008 in the Master Plan category.
Commercial real estate services firm CB Richard Ellis (Malaysia) executive director Sr Paul Khong says, “Sentul has always been branded with the old railway area which is largely dominated by Indian gangs in the early days. This impression has been chipped away slowly with the new projects undertaken by YTL through their Sentul Raya project.”
He goes on to add, “It also took YTL a while to change the image for Sentul and for its project to gain acceptance with the local populace. They have done well over the past many years and the major boost to the location came through with the opening of Duke Highway connecting the other parts of Sentul vicinity.
“Sentul West and Sentul East by YTL sit on a large acreage of land (about 294 acres) and cover the entire old railway station of Sentul Raya. It is a like a walk into the yesteryears with the beautiful preservation and conservation projects undertaken by YTL and the existing 35-acre park.”
The flagship development of YTL has become the catalyst for the urban renewal of Sentul, resulting in the neighbourhood becoming a new urban address for residents, and spurring new commercial developments with office buildings. In very recent years, other developments have jumped on the bandwagon of Sentul’s transformation, and have begun developing mixed and residential developments.
For example, UOA had recently launched its UOA Sentul Village mixed development which features serviced apartments and retail spaces with street boulevards and natural landscapes. Meridian Maxim is also having a mixed development within neighbourhood, and this development would consist of residential, commercial and retail elements.
“With the controlled unit launches, we expect the selected Sentul areas to perform well at reasonable prices especially given its strategic location to the city,” Khong says.
On top of that, YTL Land’s efforts in the development of Sentul have since been growing. Starting from their commercial developments such as their D6 shop-office with 80 units and built-up from 1,105 ft2 to 3,876 ft2 as well as D7 comprising a total of 100 units of office and retail, with built-up from 870 ft2 to 1,500 ft2 with new developments like their D2 and D5 internationally designed low-rise commercial developments in the pipeline.
YTL Land executive director Datuk Yeoh Seok Kian was reported saying in the media recently that both the new projects have been awarded MSC Malaysia Cybercentre statuses which will serve to reinforce Sentul East’s credentials as a business address.
Through the years YTL has also gone on to develop a number of high-rise condominiums such as the Tamarind, The Maple, The Saffron , The Capers as well as their on-going project known as the Fennel which has estimated to see its completion in the fourth quarter of 2017.
“We envisage the transformation of Sentul into a world-class public transportation hub. This is an exciting direction for us as the master planner as it serves to achieve our vision of a sustainable neighbourhood where land use and public infrastructure upgrades are integrated into vibrant hubs of mixed-used activities,” Yeoh said.
Located merely five kilometers away from the KL city centre, Sentul is easily accessible via not only the KTM commuter but also the Star LRT line going to both its Sentul and Sentul Timur station. On top of that, Sentul can also be accessed via various highways, namely Jalan Tun Razak, Jalan Ipoh, Jalan Pahang, Mahameru Highway (MRR1), the Duta–Ulu Kelang Highway (DUKE) and the SMART Motorway Tunnel via Jalan Tun Razak.
With the Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya MRT Line expected to proceed ahead, there are expectations that the MRT Line will pass through Sentul, but questions remain on the alignment of the line and the locations of the various stations.
According to the Land Public Transport Commission’s National Land Public Transport Master Plan final draft, the North-South Line is meant to link developing areas such as Sungai Buloh, Kepong, and Selayang, with the Eastern land freight of the city centre, including Kampung Baru and Tun Razak Exchange.
With information that is currently available, there appears to be reasonable probability that the North-South Line will pass through Sentul, given its close proximity to Kepong, Kampung Baru, and also existing rail infrastructure.
For investors, the question begs, will Sentul benefit further from the implementation of the MRT 2 Line? Would such expectations become reality? This is where the challenge for investors lie, where there are risks involved for investing in real estate, based on speculated information. Then again, if such expectations become reality, this could result in lost investment opportunities.
Therefore, investing in Sentul requires a leap of faith on the part of investors, if they believe in the long-term growth of Sentul.
“People buy/ invest properties in Sentul because of the location accessibility. Sentul is located pretty close to the KL city centre,” describes Tai. “There are several main road link and connected to KL city. In term of well-established scheme with sufficient amenities and facilities such as school, hospital, bank and shopping mall are just nearby.
“Other than that, the convenience and plentiful of the public transport such as KTM and LRT or even when the MRT completes will be another reason why people will choose Sentul area. When the location becomes accessible and convenient to the people, and the market value will be increasingly impacted by high demand,” she says.
Tai adds, “The most popular within the township is condominium/apartment. Transacted price of all the strata properties have shown a steady growth and positive, no sign of decrease. Even property asking price now is approximately RM1,000 psf and above for the high rise building.”
The appreciation in capital values of condominiums in Sentul is an indication of a booming property market in this region. According to the Valuation and Service Department’s (JPPH) 2013 Property Market Report, 100 m2 and 125 m2 units of 1 Sentul had appreciated by 10.8% and 7.2% respectively, from 2012 to 2013. 82 m2 units of Sentul Utama Condominium had appreciated by 15.8% in the corresponding period.
However, Tai says, “There are some facts that are turning buyers away because of the crowded and hassle in getting around lies in the traffic jam on the main roads of Sentul. Roads are always congested and traffic gets heavier during peak hours. Besides that, there are low-cost areas that have the usual social stigmas associated with such areas. So, this will be one of the safety and security issues needed to be considered by home buyers.”
However, says Tai, “The few coming development and high rise products are of luxuries kind and definitely will be one of the great opportunities in the eyes of the investors and home buyers. As the current on-going projects are mostly of high rise buildings, the façade and appearance of the township shall in near future evolve into much higher density, crowded and convenient in Sentul.”
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