Property
Bright prospects for Bukit Jalil
Ang Hui Hsien 
An aerial view of Bukit Jalil with the National Sports Complex (background, top left), Vista Komanwel (right) and IMU (foreground)
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BUKIT Jalil will always be linked to the 1998 Commonwealth Games as it is the site of the National Sports Complex built specially for it.

In almost two decades since the games, Bukit Jalil has evolved into one of the most prime locations for property development in Greater Kuala Lumpur.

This is largely driven by the scarcity of land in the city, attributed to sky-high land prices, which forced developers to move their land banking activities further out.

As a result, areas sitting on the fringes of the Kuala Lumpur city centre, like Bukit Jalil, are coveted by developers and house buyers for their excellent connectivity and proximity to the city.

Bukit Jalil has transformed into a self-sustaining township, says Prabu

Reapfield Properties (Bukit Jalil) Sdn Bhd senior real estate negotiator Prabu Jai Balan says property prices in Bukit Jalil have recorded significant growth in a relatively short period.

 

“Over the years, Bukit Jalil has transformed from being the venue of the National Sports Complex to becoming a self-sustaining vibrant township.

“In five years, property prices have progressively increased by about 30% with some properties even experiencing double-digit growth,” he says. 

 

KL Sports City's first phase of renovations was completed ahead of the recent Southeast Asian Games

Rising prices

Prabu says the primary and secondary markets have been experiencing positive take-up rates, with the average prices for condominiums in the latter rising from RM300 to RM800 per sq ft during 2012 to last year.

On-going property development activities have resulted in new developments, particularly high-rise residences, springing up in the area.

And this trend is set to continue with the entry of more new projects, including the integrated development of Bukit Jalil City by Malton Bhd.

 

Initially known as Bukit Jalil Estate, development activities in the area began in 1992 in preparation for the games, where Malaysia was the host country.

Works were focused on constructing the largest sports facility – the National Sports Complex.

 

Complex in a park

It was touted as Malaysia’s only sports complex in a park and includes five stadiums, the National Sports Council’s headquarters, the Bukit Jalil Sports School as well as parks.

Since the Commonwealth Games, the stadiums have been used as the venue for several sporting and entertainment events, the most recent being the 2017 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

“The National Sports Complex was the catalyst for development in Bukit Jalil. The venue is iconic and renowned throughout the country,” says Prabu.

He believes the government’s initiative to revitalise the complex into the KL Sports City sporting hub by 2021 will increase demand for more properties in the area.

“A crucial element in increasing demand is public accessibility to the facilities and surrounding areas and how engaged they are made to feel.

“The more attractive and bustling the hub becomes, the more it will translate to attract sports enthusiasts, tourists, the local community, and public,” he says.

The RM1.34 bil rejuvenation involves upgrading existing facilities and infrastructure and constructing a fully-integrated sports hub.

Phase one of the renovations for the 2017 SEA Games was completed in time by Rukun Juang Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd which bagged the project in 2015.

KL Sports City’s first phase is in the running for an award in the New and Old (Completed Buildings) category of the 2017 World Architecture Festival set to take place in Berlin in November.

“It is said that after the games, phase two of the renovations will kick-off until 2020. This will see the development of a youth park, public sports facilities and a sports-focused retail mall among others,” says Prabu.

Around the time of the 1998 Commonwealth Games, many developers began acquiring large tracts of land in Bukit Jalil.

One developer known to own substantial land near the National Sports Complex is Bukit Jalil Development Sdn Bhd, which was founded in 1994 as a subsidiary of Ho Hup Construction Company Bhd.

Prabu says the developer acquired more than 60ha of which approximately 28ha are completed residential projects.

“The remaining 32ha were pre-approved for commercial development, in the location where Bukit Jalil City is being developed,” he says.

Also holding a significant land bank in Bukit Jalil is Berjaya Land Bhd, which possesses 162ha of land. It also developed the 18-hole Bukit Jalil Golf and Country Club.

It was one of the first to develop the area, aside from United Engineers Malaysia Bhd (UEM) which built the National Sports Complex.

UEM also developed three blocks of condominiums called Vista Komanwel to house the officials and contestants of participating countries during the Commonwealth Games.

The high-density project, also known then as Athletes Village, led to an oversupply of units in Bukit Jalil in the immediate aftermath of the games.

Fortunately, the establishment of higher education institutions such as the International Medical University (IMU) and Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation (APU) in later years created demand for these condominiums.

 

Rental market

Employees working at Technology Park Malaysia and Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd also contributed to the creation of a vibrant rental market in the area.

A quick check on property portals show rental rates for Vista Komanwel condominiums currently hovering between RM1 to RM1.80 per sq ft.

With more upcoming developments expected to flood the market, Prabu foresees the oversupply situation repeating itself in the short-term.

However, he believes demand for residential properties will ultimately catch up as more businesses enter the market via commercial properties.

The shortage of land driving buyers to look further out of the city centre will also help to balance supply and demand for residences in Bukit Jalil.

“Additionally, more people will buy to stay rather than rent due to the attractive amenities being developed, convenient access and the freehold status of the land.

“All in all, we will see prices being sluggish in the short-term but anticipate a very vibrant market in the long-term,” says Prabu.

Offering a similar view is PPC International Sdn Bhd managing director Datuk Siders Sittampalam.

“Although an oversupply of condominiums may be seen in the early years, in the long-term, the market will absorb and see capital appreciation.

“Furthermore, the rental market in Bukit Jalil is driven by educational institutions such as IMU and APU,” he says.

With a gross development value of RM4 bil, Bukit Jalil City is the most high-profile and highly-anticipated project in the area.

The 20ha mixed development by property tycoon Tan Sri Desmond Lim’s Malton is targeted for completion in 2021.

It includes serviced apartments and two to five-storey retail shops and a shopping mall.

Last month, the developer released the final block of luxury serviced apartments in The Park 2 ahead of schedule due to the success of the first tower.

Comprising 324 units priced from RM630,000 onwards, Malton executive director Hong Lay Chuan says tower two achieved a 70% take-up prior to its launch.

During the launch, Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said the completion of the project’s retail and office components will provide thousands of employment opportunities.

“Residents of Bukit Jalil City will benefit the most while those living nearby will benefit from an increase in the value of their properties.

“For a project of this scale and vision, Bukit Jalil City will serve as a catalyst for Bukit Jalil’s rejuvenation, raising the city’s stature with further economic growth, job creation, and improved infrastructure,” he said.

Siders believes the entry of established developers like Malton will result in “the skyline of Bukit Jalil taking on a different dimension for the better”.

 

High-end mall

In particular, the shopping mall component within Bukit Jalil City – a collaboration with the Pavilion Group – will fill in the gap for malls of such stature in the area.

Despite its large population catchment, Siders notes that there are no large shopping complexes in the locality.

“The only mall is perhaps Endah Parade located in [nearby] Sri Petaling which serves the larger neighbourhood.

“However, it is not seen to be on par with established malls in KL. Therefore, Pavilion coming into Bukit Jalil will give a breath of fresh air to the area,” he says.

Pavilion Bukit Jalil within Bukit Jalil City will fill in the gap for shopping malls in the area

The mall, Siders says, will be complemented by Berjaya Land’s The Link 2 and WZR Group’s The Earth Residence developments that also include malls.

 

Prabu also concurs that Pavilion Bukit Jalil will have a positive effect on the locale.

“For many years, Bukit Jalil residents relied on IOI Mall Puchong, Mid Valley Megamall, OUG Plaza and Endah Parade as their nearest shopping destinations.

“Having a spanking new shopping complex within the vicinity will definitely up the ante on convenience, comfort, and commute, and increase the value of properties in the surrounding area,” he says.

While he agrees that the presence of a shopping centre will lead to busier streets and nightlife, he says that being enclosed within a commercial area, and the resulting road upgrades will mitigate the downsides.

 

Good connectivity

Siders says Bukit Jalil’s excellent connectivity in terms of roads and public transportation is key to its future growth.

Apart from the Shah Alam Expressway, the area is well-served by two Light Rail Transit (LRT) stations while road networks include the Besraya Expressway and Maju Expressway, he says.

“With all these accessibilities, we foresee potential growth in Bukit Jalil,” he says.

Aside from the LRT, residents in the locale are also serviced by Terminal Bersepadu Selatan for south, east and north-bound express buses.

The terminal acts as an interchange to the KL International Airport (KLIA) Transit and Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) Komuter services.

Prabu observes that last year’s completion of the extended Sri Petaling LRT line has led to a greater influx of residents and businesses.

“We have seen a spike in rental demand and new purchases stemming from the recently developed access routes,” he says.

The entry of Bukit Jalil City is also expected to enhance accessibility and traffic flow with upgraded roads, flyovers and an underpass that have either been completed or are in the pipeline.

Despite the excellent accessibility and connectivity it enjoys, there is a noticeable absence of major players like S P Setia Bhd, Mah Sing Group Bhd and Eco World Development Group Bhd in Bukit Jalil.

This is something which Prabu pins down to a lack of available land rather than intent.

“Based on past projects and trends, these developers prefer large mixed developments and townships which are more viable and cost-effective for them, rather than build on small parcels,” he says.

He also believes the market slowdown is little cause for concern. “Although the current plateau in the property market has somewhat slowed growth in Bukit Jalil, we see this to be short-term.

“With upcoming developments and continuous upgrading of connectivity, we anticipate a more robust and energetic market in the future,” Prabu says.

Limited supply, high demand for commercial properties

ALTHOUGH its landscape is rife with residential properties, Bukit Jalil has very few commercial offerings by comparison.

This, and increasing interest in the area has contributed to higher tenancy rates and longer tenancy periods.

Prabu Jai Balan, a senior real estate negotiator with Reapfield Properties (Bukit Jalil) Sdn Bhd, says the earliest of this type of properties to be built were two-storey shop offices in The Ritz.

Launched in 2004 at RM500,000 per unit, its value is close to RM2 mil today.

Similarly, the two-and-a-half storey shop lots in Aked Esplaned were initially sold at around RM900,000 but the latest transacted price last year was around RM3 mil.

Prabu, who has also been a resident of Bukit Jalil for the past 10 years, says the most visible and busiest of all commercial properties in the area is The Link, consisting of three and four-storey shop lots.

“The Link enjoys very high tenant occupancy with initial purchasers enjoying a return on investment of around 7% to date,” he says.

Despite the demand, he says there has been limited sale transactions in the past five years as investors are choosing to hold on to these commercial properties which are deemed sound acquisitions, thanks to their freehold status.

The entry of Bukit Jalil City by Malton Bhd will increase businesses, offices, retail, dining, shopping and entertainments outlets.

Consequently, job opportunities and the number of visitors in terms of office workers, shoppers and new residents in the vicinity will also increase.

“We have seen how properties around successful commercial centres have gone up in value with the likes of Mid Valley Megamall, One Utama, and IOI Mall Puchong. We anticipate the same happening here,” says Prabu.



This article first appeared in Focus Malaysia Issue 249.