“Sentul has gone through rapid change and gentrification over the past 15 years as it sits next to Kuala Lumpur (city centre).” Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum Mah Sing group managing director

IF you asked potential house buyers and investors more than a decade ago to buy real estate in Sentul, they would probably forgo the thought although property prices there were increasing gradually.

What came to mind about Sentul then was the large squatter population, high-crime rates and gangsterism, heavy traffic, old buildings, ageing shoplots, narrow roads, abandoned projects and the lack of shopping malls.

That perception about Sentul is long gone.

Today, Sentul is a bustling town with many

established property developers launching mid to high-end homes targeting upgraders, local investors, first-time home buyers, young couples and retirees.

White knights, too, came in and “rescued” projects that were abandoned. Not only the developers revived the abandoned projects, they also added value to the developments by improving their accessibility and landscaping.

Such an example is Melati Ehsan Holdings Bhd which has taken over Sentul Murni Sdn Bhd, a unit of Mycom Bhd and the developer of Bandar Sentul Utama project that was left abandoned in 1994.

Melati Ehsan took over the Bandar Sentul Utama project in 2006, 12 years after it was abandoned via a special purpose vehicle.

At that time, only the first phase of the development had been completed while the second phase, comprising four blocks of 17-storey condominiums, was partially developed and the following phases abandoned unconditionally.

Now, 11 years on, prices of the condominiums in the first two blocks in the second phase have more than doubled, with the bigger units at the higher floors selling above RM370,000.

Based on its township plan, Bandar Sentul Utama will include several residential towers and a commercial hub with offices and retail.

SENTUL’S MOVE TO LUXURY

YTL Land & Development Bhd unveiled its master plan to redevelop Sentul Raya, a multi-billion ringgit project, which had stalled during the 1997/1998 Asian financial crisis.

Sentul Raya, comprising mainly railway land, was first initiated by Taiping Consolidated’s subsidiary Sentul Raya Sdn Bhd, which underwent a restructuring exercise.

The Sentul Raya project was a 70:30 joint venture between Taiping Consolidated and KTM Bhd (KTMB). YTL Corp Bhd was appointed by the government in November 2000 as the new KTMB partner for the Sentul Raya project.

In October 2001, YTL Corp announced its plan to inject RM282 million of property and land-based assets into Taiping Consolidated and to rename it YTL Land upon completion of the proposal.

The urban renewal project, which started in 2002, became the first private gated park in Kuala Lumpur.

As the 117ha site is divided by the Sentul KTM Komuter station and tracks, the concept of the master plan characterises the two halves differently, thereby forming Sentul West and Sentul East.

Sentul East on 43.7ha comprises mainly commercial units while Sentul West, which sits on 75.3ha land, features residential properties with lakes, a 14ha private park, and the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac) which opened in 2005.

Completed projects are The Capers (condominiums), d6 (retail and offices), d7 (retail and offices), The Saffron (condominiums), The Maple (condominiums), The Tamarind (condominiums) and Sang Suria (condominiums).

Since the launch in 2006, property prices for the residential units, which sold at about RM250 per sq ft, have shot up by more than 100 per cent.

It was reported that Sentul West is earmarked for the proposed integration of Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Line 2 (Sg Buloh- Putrajaya) and MRT Line 3 (Circle Line).

Meanwhile, some remains of Sentul Works on the railway land, especially the brick train shed, has been remodelled for use by the KLPac.

Sentul Works was one of the world’s best integrated engineering railway depot employing about 5,000 people in its heyday.

The depot, operational since 1905 comprised several brick buildings and metal sheds. These sheds were primarily used as a workshop and storage area for steam and diesel locomotives and railway cars.

After decades of use, Sentul Works started to dilapidate.

At least half of Sentul Works were disused as railroad facilities or have been demolished, as of September 2007.

Majority of connecting railway lines to the north and west were dismantled and replaced by parkland for Sentul West.

Sentul Works has been replaced with a new railway depot for KTMB in Batu Gajah, Perak.

MAH SING BETTING ON SENTUL

Mah Sing Group Bhd will soon develop a housing project in Sentul called M Centura, on 3.44ha land, fronting Jalan Sentul Pasar.

M Centura is estimated to rake in a gross development value of about RM1.3 billion.

Mah Sing has entered into an agreement with three private parties — LTS Properties (M) Sdn Bhd, TS Law Corp Sdn Bhd and Law Wai Cheong — to acquire a 78 per cent equity stake in Cosmowealth Housing Development Sdn Bhd for RM54.96 million.

Cosmowealth is a special one-project company, which will undertake the development of M Centura.

Mah Sing group managing director Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum said it was buying in Sentul, which was in line with its focus to increase its presence in the Klang Valley, especially in the affordable range.

“By virtue of its economic dominance, the value and volume of property transactions in the Klang Valley is by far the highest in the country. Sentul has gone through rapid change and gentrification over the past 15 years as it sits next to Kuala Lumpur (city centre),” he said.

According to the National Property Information Centre (Napic), the value of property transactions in the Klang Valley last year was RM30.81 billion, accounting for nearly half of the RM65.6 billion achieved in the whole country.

Leong said by stepping up land acquisitions in the Klang Valley with focus on affordable pricing, Mah Sing would be better positioned to meet the market demand.

He pointed out that based on a recent home ownership survey on millennials by HSBC, 95 per cent of those who responded intend to buy homes in the next few years.

Leong said in anticipating the increase in demand and current supply gap (Napic, CEIC and Bank Negara Malaysia’s estimates reveal that supply of new homes need to increase by about 200,000 units annually within the next five years to meet the estimated growth in households), Mah Sing is proactively planning affordably priced products on its existing and new landbank.

For M Centura, Mah Sing is planning a well-thought layout and practical units with built-up of 650 to 1,000 sq ft, indicatively priced from RM326,000. It is targeting first-time home buyers and some upgraders due to its value proposition of quality products at affordable pricing in Kuala Lumpur.

The project is targeted to commence in the second half of this year and be developed over four to five years.

Leong said with excellent location and accessibility coupled with mature catchment, established amenities and Mah Sing’s recent successful launches of residential projects in nearby locations, the management was confident that the new development would be well received.

He pointed out that M Centura is just 4.4km to Mah Sing’s ongoing residential project, Lakeville Residence in Jalan Kuching, which has recorded a good take-up of more than 80 per cent to date. The positive response for Lakeville was mainly due to its strategic location within a mature neighbourhood and its proximity to the city centre, said Leong.

He added that Mah Sing was confident of replicating and improving the success for the new project in Sentul.

“In view of M Centura’s location, which is close to existing retail convenience, it makes more sense to focus the development as residential suites with a host of facilities that will appeal to residents.”

Just opposite the road is the Sentul Village retails shops as well as Sentul Point. In addition, there are also retail outlets in Maxim

Citylights (0.5km) and Sentul Boulevard (3.3km).

CONNECTIVITY AND CONVENIENCE IS KEY

Sentul lies just 3km north of the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

It is accessible to various parts of the Klang Valley via the Sentul Link, Sultan Iskandar Highway (formerly Mahameru Highway), the Middle Ring Road 2 (MRR2), Duta-Segambut Highway and Damansara-Ulu Kelang Expressway (DUKE).

There is also easy access to various parts of the city and suburbs via trunk roads such as Jalan Kuching, Jalan Pahang, Jalan Genting Kelang, Jalan Kepong and Jalan Ipoh.

Sentul is also well-connected with public transportation infrastructure such as the light rail transit (LRT) line with Sentul Timur LRT station and Sentul LRT Station, and KTM Kommuter stations.

Leong said with the public transportation and the parking facilities provided, residents have the option to park their vehicles at the stations and use the trains to go to work to avoid traffic jam.

“One of the aspects we consider when we purchase new land is how accessible it is from major roads and highways as well public transportation. M Centura has access to major highways, and LRT and KTM stations all within 5km.

“Residents get to appreciate the convenience of being able to connect to major road arteries within a short distance from their home and also take the LRT and KTM lines to travel across the city,” he said.

Within a 6km stretch, M Centura is close to private medical facilities which are Sentul Medical Centre, KPJ Tawakkal Specialist Hospital and Hospital Pusrawi, as well as Hospital Kuala Lumpur.

RICH IN HERITAGE

Property Guru country manager Sheldon Fernandez said Sentul is what it is today — a mix of old and new standing side by side!

“The old world charm remains, such as the Sentul market, the Indian temples, the old shop lots. It’s a diversity of sorts, which makes Sentul rich in heritage,” he told NST Property.

According to Fernandez, Sentul once was never a destination on the map.

He credits YTL Land for the “revamp” of the place through the redevelopment of the old railway warehouse to feature the KLPac.

“KLPac has drawn many urbanites to Sentul. Sentul has become a strategic location with many young families settling in to purchase their first homes.

“YTL Land’s signature developments, such as Saffron, The Capers, The Tamarind and The Maple, have all been very well received.

“The developer has done very well in establishing themselves, with unique

designs and relatively affordable pricing,” he said, adding that property prices in Sentul had remained steady in all categories in the last five years.

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