Despite a dampened property market, upcoming multibillion ringgit infrastructure and iconic developments in the capital are set to put the finishing touches to a sophisticated and forward-looking metropolis. Text by Mira Soyza
Beyond 2020 Vision
Kuala Lumpur has been enjoying exponential growth since the last 30 years. Most would agree that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad—Malaysia’s 4th Prime Minister was instrumental in transforming this former mining town into a metropolis and essentially put Malaysia on the world’s map through the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, at one time, the tallest building in the world. From mega developments to an extensive network of transportation, the muddy confluence of which KL’s name is derived from quickly rose to become one of the top 10 cities in Southeast Asia.
During the construction boom years, a flurry of building activities in the commercial and infrastructure sectors had also spilled over to the residential segment of the property market. Even when the Asian Financial Crisis hit in 1997 and caused a 39% slump in the luxury detached housing segment, property prices in selected areas in Kuala Lumpur still significantly outperformed the rest of the country.
The Game Changers
KL is undeniably the heart of the country and under the Greater Kuala Lumpur Strategic Development Project, GKL is to act as the driver of growth and propel the country’s economy to developed nation status by 2020. One of its many ambitious plans is to revitalise the city by redeveloping strategic federal assets including the Sungei Besi military airport, Pudu Jail, Kuala Lumpur Financial District and the planned township development on the Rubber Research Institute (RRI) land in Sungei Buloh.
With that in mind, a slew of anticipated mega projects to start in 2016 or already underway would contribute to an estimated cumulative GDV of RM200 bil in the capital alone, according to reports. Meanwhile, the upcoming Transportation Masterplan is expected to deliver high connectivity to the city and ease current transportation woes. This is anticipated to have a positive impact on property prices along its route, particularly in areas outside the city centre.
Land public transport plays a catalytic role in accelerating economic growth, opening up new growth clusters and driving urban revitalisation. Recognising its potential, The Greater KL Land Public Transport Master Plan sets out an integrated 20-year plan to transform land public transport in a bid to improve liveability of the city and accessibility to areas of Greater KL that are currently poorly connected.
Experts believe that the most significant game changers are the MRT lines and the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur High Speed Rail (HSR). GKL will be welcoming the first operational 51km Sungai Buloh-Kajang MRT Line in 2016. The much anticipated line has the capacity to ferry 400,000 passengers a day to and fro the North towards the South of Greater KL. This will be followed by the 52.3km Sungai Buloh- Serdang-Putrajaya MRT line in 2017. To date, no confirmed information is known of the completion date of the MRT3 or Circle Line.
Complementing the MRT is the Ampang LRT extension (18.1km) that is expected to begin operation in March 2016 and the Kelana Jaya LRT line extension that is scheduled for completion by mid-2016
The extension of the existing lines will provide ease of travelling for commuters living beyond Kelana Jaya and Ampang while alleviating traffic congestion to the city centre. Meanwhile, construction of the new 36km-long LRT line 3 connecting Bandar Utama to Klang is scheduled to commence early 2016 and slated for completion by August 2020. Additionally, the KL-Klang BRT Line is also another project to look forward to.
Future Mega Projects
Bandar Malaysia is perhaps one of the most anticipated upcoming mega projects expected to start construction in 2016. The mixed-use project that occupies 500 acres of the former Royal Malaysian Air Force land is a project by 1Malaysia Development (1MDB). Upon completion, this RM150 billion sustainable township will be the central transportation hub, serving Greater KL’s main lines such as the Singapore-KL HSR, MRT, KTM Komuter and Express Rail Link (ERL). Since Chan Sow Lin is geographically parallel to Bandar Malaysia, it is expected to have the most impact on the real estate value there similar to the way KLCC had boosted Ampang’s value.
Some 10kms away is the iconic Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) that sits right in the heart of the city and is projected to be the new financial centre of Malaysia. The 70-acre development with an estimated GDV of RM40 bil is expected to attract around RM3.2 bil of foreign direct investment. Construction works have officially commenced in 2015 and the first phase which includes two five star hotels, five residential towers, four grade A office blocks and one retail mall is expected to be ready by 2017.
Another iconic project guaranteed to grab international headlines is the 600m tower, KL118 by Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB). Upon completion in 2019, the tower is projected to be the tallest building to grace not only KL skyline but also Southeast Asia. Currently, a 12.2 acre land sited in the vicinity of the upcoming tower and the old Palace grounds (Istana Negara) has been acquired by Tradewinds Corp Bhd to build a RM3.8 bil high-end residence.
In the affluent neighbourhood of Jalan Duta, the 75-acre KL Metropolis’ MATRADE Centre is expected to be the nucleus for the overall development of the area. Linked to the Matrade Tower is the upcoming Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (MITEC), which is slated to be the hub of KL’s trade and exhibition district. As an alternative to KLCC and Putra World Trade Centre, MITEC will provide 522,268 sq ft in lettable space with 11 exhibition halls, a multi-purpose hall, meeting and conference rooms among others once it is ready in Q2 2016. KL Metropolis on the other hand, will create various job opportunities and its close proximity to the MRT Circle Line 3 will lure an increasing number of international investors into KL’s commercial real estate market.
Revival on the cards
Meanwhile, the eastern side of the city centre is expected to experience a long-awaited resurgence, spurred by the opening of the 23-acre mixed-use development, Sunway Velocity and the 18-acre MyTOWN shopping centre that’s connected with the largest IKEA in Malaysia in Jalan Cochrane, Cheras.
Two redevelopment projects to look out for are the 19-acre renewal project of the former Pudu Jail site, now called the Bukit Bintang City Centre (BBCC) and the redevelopment of the 68-acre PJ Section 52 into PJ Sentral. BBCC and PJ Sentral, both consisting of office towers, retail mall, serviced residences and hotels, are poised to be the catalyst for the transformation of the Bukit Bintang and the ageing Petaling Jaya areas.
With all these grand projects, the big question is will there be takers? Apart from an anticipated surge of foreign investors, local buyers including institutions are expected to take up the bulk of the offerings. With the Malaysian population currently standing at 30,768,200 million, out of which 23% (7 million) reside in Greater KL, and a positive population growth, it is projected that the vacancies will be taken up eventually over the medium to long-term. Moreover, the government has targeted a population of 10 million for GKL by 2020, many of whom are projected to be of working age, thus contributing to the future housing demand.