The Contrarian

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Regardless of the current cautious market sentiment, WiraDani Development Sdn Bhd is one developer who continues to grow strong against the odds. The Managing Director of the Company, Leong Yeng Kit, reveals to Property Insight their story for growth in a challenging economic climate.

It is not unknown that property development has always been a lucrative business and despite the current cautious real estate situation in the country, WiraDani Development Sdn Bhd has taken it in their stride to develop projects with a different cause in mind — providing projects that are achieveable within means.

WiraDani Development Sdn Bhd was formed with three partners and they started with Q3@eastKL before expanding their wings to different regions.

“Besides myself, my partners are Chairman Dato’ Sri Sunny Ung and Datuk Wira Dani Bin Tun Daim.” said Leong.

Q3@EastKL

With the exclusivity of 26 three- and four-storey shop offices in the heart of Ampang Jaya / Cheras, Q3@EastKL is definitely the next commercial investment for property investors.

“We bought this land a few years ago, and the land has definitely appreciated since then. Back in the day, this piece of commercial land was an actual quarry and we originally planned to have a single podium block development with two towers. After having conducted a detail market feasibility and listened to the needs of the market, we decided to divide the development into half, offering one service apartment tower with 256 units with 20 units of Lifestyle-Retail Outlets, and offering what many people in the market had sought for, which was 26 units of three and four storey shop-offices.”

In the original plan, as Leong said, the land had been designed to be developed into serviced apartments with a plot ratio of 1:4.0. However, after considering all aspects, they decided to reduce the plot ratio to 1:2.4, hence lowering the plot ratio of the development to offer a more attractively uncrowded space, something which was quite unheard of, what with the current expensive land prices in the area.

When asked about the reason for choosing to build a commercial development, Leong clarified that the scarcity of expensive commercial land within a matured area dictated that most developers would opt to maximise the plot ratio and develop highrises, however, the offering of landed shop-offices by the Company on such expensive land gave heightened value to these exclusively limited
Q3@EastKL shop-offices. Company always had it’s heart set on a commercial development since its very first day of owning the land. “The land was already a commercial title and that was why our initial plan comprised of serviced apartments. Even though we changed to develop part of the land into these 26 shop-offices instead, no land title conversion for category of land use was necessary.”

Offering commercial spaces for a diverse range of businesses,
Q3@EastKL would be the home to the likes of accounting & law firms, banks, food and beverage outlets, boutique hotels, educational centres, beauty parlours, boutique retail shops and many more. Many businesses that are growing would eventually find it difficult to acquire adjoining space at their current locations, therefore the shop-offices of Q3@EastKL gave such businesses the rare opportunity to acquire two or three adjoining lots to expand their businesses in a single location, as there are very few landed shop-offices developments being offered in matured parts of Klang Valley.

Its design is conceptualised around the city’s trending modern lifestyle whilst being enhanced by a green courtyard landscape that’s 20 feet in width as well as private individual rooftop gardens above each and every unit. With such unique spaces at hand, tenants and investors in the Q3@EastKL community would find a great balance between work and leisure, and a one of a kind unique office concept with the ability to build additional lightweight garden-offices on the very roof of one’s own office block. In addition to that, each block unit had its very own lift, not shared with other block units.

In fact, Q3@EastKL’s location in itself is a high population catchment area whilst the immediate surrounding population is approximately 65,000 people. The area is is also highly accessible via the Kuala Lumpur Middle Ring Road 2 (MRR2), Duta-Ulu Klang Expressway (DUKE), Shah Alam Expressway (KESAS) as well as the Sungai Besi Highway.

Apart from taking the bold step of absorbing Goods and Services Tax (GST) on behalf of its buyers, and giving atractive discounts this project, interestingly, follows the new rules from the Manual Garis Panduan dan Piawaian Perancangan Negeri Selangor that demands the development to have a fire escape at the back of each unit.

“Currently, shop-offices only have a single entry at the front with nothing at the back. But we’ve done it differently at Q3@EastKL, whereby there is a second fire escape via the back — this would soon be the norm for upcoming new developments.”

The Q3@EastKL shop-offices are attractively priced below market valuation, making it a very attractive proposition for real estate investors, and prices start from RM2.8 million onwards for the three-storey shop office with roof garden block. Q3@EastKL shop-office block sizes range between 6,466 sq.ft. to 12,473 sq.ft.

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AS A DEVELOPER

Despite being a young development company, WiraDani Development Sdn Bhd is pioneering new and unique ways that trendy shop-offices should be about.

“You’d find that besides the unique roof garden concept, our Q3@EastKL shop-offices façade look very different from conventional ones in the market and there is no product out there that looks quite like it.

“Plus, if you look closely at most shop lots in the market, the whole row tends to look uniformly the same. Whereas with Q3@EastKL, each block has a different façade design, yet with some degree of grace and conformity to it. Our façade is also texturised with detailed patterned brickwork which complements the overall design. We have an architect extraordinaire in Ar.Cheah Kah Lip from Akitek Akiprima”, Leong added.

On top of that, WiraDani Development Sdn Bhd has also stood out from the crowd, in a sense that it does not own or deal with any land banks. “Anything we have, we will develop and sell the products straight away.” explained Leong.

“After inspecting suitable lands and studying proposals with development orders (DO) in place, we will buy into it instantly. That’s the approach we are currently practising for some projects, to reduce the lead time prior to project sales launches.”

DEVELOP A SELLING PROJECT

Other than commercial developments like Q3@eastKL, the group is also developing affordable housing projects outside of Klang Valley.

Needless to say, with the current market sentiment, Bank Negara Malaysia has become more conservative on loan approvals. “Of course, consumers would naturally want or even need to buy residential house, especially ones to reside in. They are able to place the down payment for booking, but the challenge arises when these purchasers apply for loans from the banks — they fail more often than in the past, as most purchasers were either over-geared or they fell below the treshold to afford the instalments on expensive unaffordable properties”.

“So that is why we spotted a huge growing need for affordable residential developments, and we place great emphasis to focus on projects that fall in the affordable bracket of RM200,000 to RM500,000. It’s the question of affordability.” Leong emphasized. “The Company’s choice to go down this road and develop affordable housing is because it sells, and buyers are able to secure loans. It is a win-win.”

In line with that view, Leong’s philosophy as a developer would always be to meet the market need, as the market would always have a need which begs to be fulfilled, even in a challenging market environment and the key is to find out what that need is and to deliver it.

“We will continue to do our best to provide these reasonable and affordable housing projects in the outskirts of the city, for example, in our current projects in Gambang, Pekan, Sandakan, Kelantan, Perak, Seremban and Johor. We also have some of them in the Klang Valley.”

“In this current economic crisis, most developers either stop the project completely, or a lot of them sell the entire project to other developers — we ourselves have been receiving many offers from other developers who want to sell their projects outright.”

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PLANS FOR THE FUTURE

The way that Leong sees it, the country’s real estate industry would be developing a trend for lifestyle and affordability in future developments.

“The trend that is booming is lifestyle. Just look at recent residential projects — it’s skewed towards lifestyle concepts in a mixed developments such as Bangsar South for example. We are trying to create something along those lines as well, and it’s clear that Q3@eastKL is aligned towards that concept.”

As the Managing Director of the Company, Leong said that his vision and goals for the group is certainly growth, both in challenging times a well as in times of rapid economic growth, and to deploy strategies best suited to deliver growth, in both these types of divergent economic situations.

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