HCK bucks trend with 'education city' project
Sonia Ramachandran 
An artist’s impression of the edusphere masterplan

BUOYED by the overwhelming response to its education-themed mixed development project edusentral, HCK Capital Group Bhd is set to launch another “education city” project called edusphere@Cyberjaya soon.

Located in the heart of the purpose-built smart city, edusphere has a gross development value (GDV) of RM1.8 bil.

It sits on a 9.34ha freehold plot with a commercial title and comprises six towers of service suites, an office tower and 66 units of retail shoplots, besides the tertiary education component.

Edusphere@Cyberjaya incorporates an education component in the form of the Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences (CUCMS), which has a capacity of up to 12,000 students.

Hii says a major selling point for edusphere is the education component

HCK Capital Group executive director Clifford Hii says the decision to launch edusphere at a time when many other developers were slowing down reflected the group’s confidence in the project’s viability.

“Based on our experience with our earlier project edusentral in Setia Alam, buyers really liked the idea of having an education component as it helps support demand for accommodation as well as office space and retail traffic,” he explains.

Hii adds that many developers underestimate the potential of Cyberjaya.

“We know many investors want to invest in areas like Mont’Kiara or KL Sentral but we foresee our development will be very well received due to the facilities and infrastructure the government has planned as well as all the institutions of higher learning available in Cyberjaya,” he says.

This confidence is not far-fetched with Cyberjaya’s growing popularity following the government’s recent decision to roll out 11 multi-billion ringgit initiatives there such as the FinTech Regional Hub, Asian Big Data Centre and Blue Ocean Entrepreneurs Township.

Keen interest before launch

Hii says three of edusphere’s six residential towers, namely, Covington, Foster and Northwood Suites, will be launched very soon. There are 800 units in total, with prices starting from RM272,000. The units in the three towers will be available in two generic sizes of 450 sq ft (studio units) and 790 sq ft (dual-key layout units).

“Even before our launch, we had received numerous expressions of interest from buyers. This shows their confidence in HCK Group as an emerging developer which delivers quality products and services,” says Hii.

The HCK Group comprises Bursa Malaysia-listed HCK Capital Group Bhd as well as companies linked to Tan Sri Clement Hii, the executive chairman of both entities.

Ong says the dual-key units offer buyers capital appreciation and recurring income

HCK Capital Group deputy managing director Ong Chou Wen says the three towers will be sitting on a connected podium which will also house a 0.8ha recreational deck. The facilities include a 40m lap pool, barbecue pits, a gymnasium, sports courts, a multipurpose hall, space for games room, study room, space for a yoga-cum-dance room and landscaped gardens.

The maintenance fee for the units is 30 sen per sq ft.

Ong says the dual-key layout units offer buyers good investment in terms of capital appreciation and recurring income, while allowing them to live in at the same time.

“The dual-key units will enable owners to live in while having their annex units rented out. This will help reduce their monthly instalments,” he says.

“The annex unit will have a mini pantry with facilities to warm up simple food. It is actually much like a hotel suite,” says Ong.

Both Covington and Foster are 18 storeys high while Northwood is 32 storeys. The ground floor right up to level five will be elevated car parks, while the sixth floor will be the recreational deck.

Ong says buyers of units in all three towers will also have unobstructed views of either one of two lakes in Cyberjaya, including the Cyberjaya Lake Gardens.

An artist’s impression of the studio unit for Covington, Foster and Northwood

Savings for buyers

Ong says more than 60% of the units in Covington and Foster cost less than RM299,000 with prices starting from RM272,000.

“We always do a market study before setting the pricing and ours is one of the most attractively-priced developments in Cyberjaya, which means there is a lot of room for capital appreciation,” he says.

On how they can offer such attractive prices, Ong says it is all about “design innovation”.

“With the improvement in carpark design efficiency, we are able to eliminate the costly basement carparks, whilst limiting the elevated carparking to just five storeys for the three towers.

“Also, because the two towers [Covington and Foster] are 18 storeys, we were able to do away with the transfer floor [the intermediate floor which houses water tanks and pumps].

“These and adopting the modularity concept in all the unit layouts were among the factors which helped save on construction cost, and enable attractive pricing to meet the investment appetite of our target market segments.” says Ong.

Hii states these savings were passed back to customers in terms of highly-competitive pricing.

The units for all three towers come with parking bays, with one lot each for 450 sq ft units and two each for 790 sq ft units, with selected units having three bays.

“The layout for Covington and Foster are identical, with 16 units per floor, while Northwood has 18 units per floor,” says Ong.

He says more than 65% of the units in Northwood cost less than RM399,000, with prices from RM290,000 to RM565,000.

Units in Covington and Foster come fully furnished, while Northwood units offer two packages, either partly or fully furnished.

“The partly-furnished ones will come with a smart home system, including keyless entries, a smart television and devices such as light and air-conditioning units which can be operated remotely via smartphone applications,” says Ong.

He says units in all three towers are strategically located next to CUCMS, as well as fronting shoplots and a common square.

Where were the names of the towers derived from?

Ong says Covington is the name of the first generation of Intel processors. “All these names are Intel processor names, from the first generation to the latest, so it ties in with the ‘smart theme’.”

An artist’s impression of the living area of the 790 sq ft unit of Covington, Foster and Northwood


Four pillars

In keeping with Cyberjaya’s reputation as an intelligent city, edusphere’s draw is underpinned by four smart elements – smart living, smart energy, smart space and smart connectivity, Hii says.

One of the key features of “smart living” is access to the fastest internet connection of 1Gbps, available only in Cyberjaya. This is on top of existing or soon-to-be available state-of-the-art infrastructure in the smart city.

Edusphere@Cyberjaya also comes with “smart energy” features such as a rainwater harvesting system, energy-saving bulbs and naturally-ventilated washrooms.

“We build in such a way that you can reduce your electricity consumption due to the building orientation.

“All the units have been designed without windows that are directly west-facing to cut down direct heat gain through the glass material,” says Ong.

The smart space feature of the project includes dual-key layouts which allow for multi-generational living. “We also try to maximise the space available to make it look as big as possible by having minimal and multi-functional furniture,” he says.

Ong says the project’s proximity to major highways like the North–South Expressway Central Link, Damansara-Puchong Highway and Maju Expressway besides rail links like the Express Rail Link, makes edusphere a “smart connectivity” development.

The project will also have covered pedestrian walkways.


Target audience

Ong says edusphere’s target audience is “quite wide-ranging”.

“We are looking at those who want to upgrade their lifestyle and own a place that is affordable but comes with resort-style facilities, as well as first-time home buyers.”

The project also targets people connected to the university. “What is unique about our development is that the university campus is within it.

“So we automatically attract another market – scholars, students, administrators as well as academicians from outstation who probably want a second home. Parents with children studying in these universities might also want to buy for capital appreciation while their children get to stay in the units,” Ong says.


Good investment

Hii says edusphere buyers can expect a capital appreciation of 4-5% a year. He reiterates a major selling point is the education component within the development, proven by edusentral’s successful track record.

“The CUCMS campus has a combined capacity of up to 12,000, so there will definitely be demand for the units, especially the smaller ones, as accommodation provided by the universities is not sufficient,” he says.

Edusentral, HCK Group’s “education city” development launched this year, includes the Peninsula International School Australia, a collaboration between the group and Peninsula Grammar, a reputable school in Melbourne, Australia.

The project has 1,783 units of residential suites and 44 units of four and five-storey commercial blocks.

Hii says the group is confident edusphere will be able to emulate edusentral’s success, which saw the first phase of its residential towers completely snapped up within hours of the launch in June.

“The success of education plus property has been replicated all around the world,” he says.

Hii adds that the HCK Group is building an intelligent enclave to complement Cyberjaya’s aspiration to be Malaysia’s Silicon Valley.

“It shall be more than just a place in space; we are creating a beautiful and conducive sphere for a discerning community,” he says.


What’s next

Hii says the group is preparing to launch its next residential tower in edusentral in the first quarter of next year.

He says another education-themed mixed development will also be in the offing next year, adding more details will be shared when the time is suitable.

The HCK Group also has an “education city” development in Ipoh, Perak called eduenclave on a 24.28ha prime plot. It will house an international school, residences and commercial property.

A landmark development in Malaysia’s Smart City

EDUSPHERE, the third “education city” project to be launched by the HCK Group, comprises seven phases under construction in Cyberjaya, Malaysia’s version of Silicon Valley.

HCK had earlier launched eduenclave in Ipoh and edusentral in Setia Alam.

Edusphere’s first phase is the education component which includes a full-fledged campus for Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences sitting on 1.6ha and is set to be completed by year-end.

The 1.8ha second phase has service suites comprising three residential towers – Covington, Foster and Northwood.

Phases 3a and 3b will consist of specialty shops while phases 4, 5 and 6 will be service suites.

“Phase 3a will consist of two rows of stratified three- and four-storey shophouses, which will be launched by the first quarter of 2018.

“The remaining 45 units of phase 3b are planned to be launched within 2018,” says HCK Capital Group Bhd deputy managing director Ong Chou Wen, adding the other residential towers of phases 4, 5 and 6 are in the pipeline.

“They will be premium residences, offering a different venue and product proposition,” he says.

Phase 7 is a boutique office tower. “This last phase will sit on 0.4ha,” he says. “We will build this when we secure buyers so that we can purpose-build the office building to suit the investors’ needs.”


Stamping its mark in property development

PROPERTY development is the major component of the HCK Group as well as the key revenue and growth driver.

It has, within a short span of time, emerged as the country’s top creator of education cities, with already three in the series launched and a few more in the pipeline.

The company has commercial and residential projects nationwide, including in Damansara, Subang, Sungai Buloh, Ipoh, Cyberjaya and Kuching.

The HCK Group, through its executive chairman Tan Sri Clement Hii, has its education arm in the Peninsula International School Australia. He is the founder of SEGi University and Colleges.

“We have property and also specialise in education, with Tan Sri Clement Hii behind the scene. We are combining our expertise in both areas,” says HCK Capital Group Bhd executive director Clifford Hii.

His father Clement Hii is also group managing director of SEG International Bhd, a listed tertiary education provider with a student enrolment of 21,000. The senior Hii is also executive chairman of listed HCK Capital Group Bhd, part of the HCK Group.

Clement Hii was earlier quoted as saying he was not perturbed over the challenging market because “if you do the right packaging and offer the right products in the right location, there will still be demand for them.”

He added the group, in making property development its core focus, “must be seen to do the right things and to do things right”.

“I believe that in five years, we would have already made a mark, and in 10 years we would have established ourselves as a key property player,” he said.

The Edge weekly had named HCK Capital Group as the top stock gainer in the property sector this year. With RM9 bil worth of projects in the pipeline, the HCK Group is well on its way to stamping its mark in property development.


This article first appeared in Focus Malaysia Issue 261.