This article first appeared in City & Country, The Edge Malaysia Weekly on November 28, 2022 - December 4, 2022
Ipoh-based developer Team Keris Bhd (TKB) is banking on the uniqueness of Palazzo — it is bedecked with 19th-century moulded Venetian carvings and marble juxtaposed with bright, contemporary finishings and furniture — to appeal to Ipohites, including civil servants, professionals and families.
Well-spoken and gracious, group executive chairman Datuk Lee Seng Hee and deputy chairman Datin Irene Lee take City & Country on a short tour of the site, which boasts a backdrop of scenic limestone caves.
The site includes a miniature orchard, manicured gardens, gondolas, show rooms and a clubhouse with features that residents will enjoy, including an expansive gym, karaoke room, games room and nursery room.
Seng Hee says, “I have been in the industry for over 40 years, during which I have experienced a few economic downturns, including the 1997 Asian financial crisis. At TKB, we have always maintained a good balance in maintaining our cash flow and our balance sheet, and launched our products based on our market observations and forecasts.”
“The pandemic was a good example of a period in which we recalibrated, reconfigured our products based on market demand, and sourced out segments that are resilient. We had been focusing on pricing [our products] at between RM300,000 and RM500,000, while figuring out ways to maintain quality and distinctive designs.
“We would like for our developments, such as Palazzo, to be meaningful ... Buyers and stakeholders are now well-informed and well-equipped with industry knowledge, thus we would like to create developments that are thoughtful, tasteful and not excessive... We respect their needs and aspirations and we hope to deliver according to their expectations. Over the years, we believe we have built that trust with our stakeholders,” he adds,
“We also look at opportunities for cost reduction, and to make the developments more sustainable,” chimes in Irene, who handles the interior design of Palazzo. “Over the years, we have introduced features that are practical and enduring.
“The design of Palazzo was inspired by our travels to Italy, a place that is filled with culture, history and Neoclassical architecture. We would like to offer the locals here homes that make them feel welcomed, galvanised and transported to Europe.”
Taking up a 4.69-acre freehold plot in Ipoh Garden East, Palazzo will comprise 294 serviced apartments in three blocks (10, 12 and 15 storeys).
Unveiled in February this year and slated to be completed by 1Q2025, the development, which has a gross development value (GDV) of RM110 million, is 70% sold. The units are priced from RM290,000 (average of RM420 psf). Facilities include a clubhouse, 210ft swimming pool and Jacuzzi, and the maintenance fee will be 27 sen psf (including sinking fund).
“Our units have built-ups of 689 sq ft, 915 sq ft and 1,066 sq ft, ranging from two to three bedrooms,” says Seng Hee. “We would also like to ensure that the units have plenty of privacy and are practically laid out and comfortable, with minimal renovation and hacking required.
“Palazzo is also a low-density development with only eight units per floor. In essence, we believe we are offering units that are value-for-money.”
On how the group has sustained its business, Seng Hee says: “Our main focus (and DNA) has always been in creating value and enhancements for every development while benefiting our stakeholders. It is also about responsibility. [To reach] that equilibrium point in pricing policies in the industry ... we must look at ourselves as developers and not hedge on pricing in ensuring our contractors are employed [and paid], and [also consider] those in our supply chain as well as our stakeholders.”
The group is more than familiar with the markets in Perak. Formed in 1991, TKB has been in the industry for more than 30 years, with several integrated developments under its belt.
Its notable developments include Anjung Bercham Utara, Bandar Ipoh Raya, The Castles, Alice Springs, Strawberry Fields, Station 18, Eastside Boulevard, The Dales, Giorgio, Treetops Residency, TF Value Mart, Ipoh South Precinct, Manor Born @ The Dales, Marbella @ Ipoh South Precinct, Spanish Gardens by the Water and Sierra Beringin.
Its integrated developments in Perak — which have a total value of about RM5 billion — comprise shopping malls, commercial buildings, bus and taxi terminals, hotels and petrol stations. In fact, when we were making our way to Palazzo site, we saw quite a few properties owned and run by TBK.
The Lees highlight Palazzo’s strategic location and surrounding amenities. “It is situated within walking distance of Ipoh’s largest shopping malls: AEON Kinta City, Lotus’s and De Garden Mall,” says Seng Hee. “Palazzo is also near F&B outlets, banks, hospitals, education institutions and retail outlets that would cater for the residents’ everyday needs.”
Nestled within a mature neighbourhood, Palazzo will also be connected to Ipoh’s major townships of Bercham, Tambun and Canning Garden, with good accessibility provided by highways such as the North-South Expressway.
Palazzo will be gated and guarded, with multiple layers of security screening. Residents will have full access to facilities at a 3-storey standalone clubhouse. “We would like to provide ample space for the residents to bond, recharge, host and play with their family and friends,” says Irene. “Apart from the games room and karaoke room, the clubhouse will also feature a large co-working space.
“Our group’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives include the upgrading of [Palazzo’s] immediate surroundings, with planting of fruit trees along the riverbank and upgrading of playground equipment,” says Seng Hee.
Irene adds: “We are also sensitive to the evolution of market behaviour post-pandemic and have been introducing touchless contact.”
Metro Homes Realty Bhd executive director See Kok Loong offers his views about the project: “It is in a mature residential area surrounded by landed properties and has easy access to the North-South Expressway, and Ipoh town is just a short distance away. The view is good.
“The development’s concept is typical, whereby facilities are sufficient and unit layout is good. Overall, the development has a modern design.
“Pricing is the key element of the project as 2-storey terraced houses are priced at RM400,000 in the secondary market, while the apartments are around RM200,000.
“Palazzo would attract the younger generation, who prefer the condo facilities and are able to afford the price point.
“As construction costs have been high since 2021, we believe new launches have much higher selling prices. It is not easy for developers to strike a balance between affordability and profitability.
“The outlook is good; and it works for Palazzo, since it’s a different product for the immediate market.”
TKB is spreading its wings into the Klang Valley, where it has purchased a 5.31-acre parcel.
“As for our upcoming direction for the group, we plan to launch bite-sized projects with a combined GDV of RM7 billion in Perak, that are priced between RM300,000 and RM500,000 in the next seven years.”
“We also plan to unveil a residential development in Old Klang Road in the Klang Valley in the next four years,” says Seng Hee, adding that details are being firmed up.
He says: “We are grateful that our projects are performing well in general. For example, Sierra Beringin Phase 1 is fully taken up ... and we plan to unveil the second phase soon. We would like to continue that trajectory. Our long-term goal, or rather, our next foray, would be biophilic features and new technologies, as well as incorporating more ESG elements.
“If our buyers and stakeholders can be surrounded by greenery and have access to more of nature and parks, as well as be able to smell the flowers and live life to the full, then we feel we have fulfilled our duty as a developer.”
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