This article first appeared in City & Country, The Edge Malaysia Weekly on April 24, 2017 - April 30, 2017
AFTER a busy year with various corporate exercises to turn itself into a full-fledged property developer, Yong Tai Bhd now has a new majority shareholder as well as business direction under the leadership of CEO Datuk Wira Boo Kuang Loon. Its businesses currently encompass property development and consultancy, management services, hospitality and leisure, tourism and wellness.
Yong Tai started in 1971 as a garment manufacturer but decided to reinvent itself after incurring heavy losses since 2008. The company entered into a joint-venture agreement with Boo’s PTS Properties Sdn Bhd in 2014.
PTS Properties is involved in property development, construction, sales and leasing, technology solution, hotel management and property management. It has developed several projects in Melaka, including the state’s first corporate building, Jaya99, which comprises a 7-storey podium — offering a total leasable area of 200,000 sq ft — and two blocks of 9 and 10-storey towers.
The past year has seen Yong Tai absorbing PTS Properties’ operations, and welcoming Hong Kong-listed packaging material company Sino
Haijing Holdings Ltd as a substantial shareholder. It has also acquired more land in the country.
It is set to exit its loss-making textile and garment business by selling its wholly-owned subsidiary Syarikat Koon Fuat Industries Sdn Bhd by June.
Maiden property launch
Yong Tai will be launching its maiden property project Amber Cove at Impression City in Melaka this year, says Boo. This will be followed by The Dawn at Impression City, and a mixed-use development in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur. The three projects have a total gross development value (GDV) of over RM800 million.
Boo is optimistic about the long-term prospects of Melaka. He believes the state will benefit from China’s One Belt, One Road initiative as well as the tourism sector, Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high speed rail and proposed international shipping port in Pulau Panjang. He says Melaka is the next place to watch after the Klang Valley, Johor Baru and Penang.
Amber Cove, a serviced apartment project, has a GDV of RM290.6 million. It will offer 838 units with built-ups of 727 to 750 sq ft. Each unit will have two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and come with a parking bay.
Boo, who is from Melaka, tells City & Country that the units will be priced at an average of RM300,000 — within the reach of first-time homeowners.
“As we have said all this while, Impression City will not be a city only for tourists that becomes a ghost town once they leave. This is not what we want,” he explains.
“We want Impression City to be a place for people to live in as well, so that is why we have come up with the first residential development, which we are going to sell for RM300,000 per unit and is not an affordable housing scheme.
“Today, in Melaka, there is no such thing as a property priced below RM400,000. But I come from the state and I would like to develop one parcel for the locals so that the youngsters can own a property here.”
Amber Cove, scheduled to be launched by the end of this month, will have facilities such as a basketball half court, barbecue terrace, library and reading room, game room, swimming pool, multipurpose hall, children’s playground and gymnasium. It will also have a three-tier security system.
Similar to the other cities in the country, Melaka has seen property development activities move out of the urban areas, Boo notes. Landed homes in the state are now mostly available in the suburban areas such as Alor Gajah and Ayer Keroh, which are far from the conveniences in Melaka town.
“It has become the trend now whereby people do not mind buying another property near the town area to stay in during weekdays,” he says. They then leave town for the weekend and stay in the suburban area, he explains.
“Also, we need accommodation for people who will eventually work in Impression City. This is for those who need a home and we will offer more than just an ordinary apartment at this price tag because we want to make sure that what the buyers get is value for money.”
Boo says Yong Tai is targeting young couples and first-time homeowners for this project, though some buyers may see Amber Cove as a family holiday home or use it to offer homestay services.
“To a certain extent, we encourage people to offer homestay services because it means that they will take good care of their units and maintain the facilities. This means the property will always be in a good condition.”
The second launch in Impression City will be a serviced suite development known as The Dawn. To be officially launched in June, the project will offer 648 fully furnished condo hotel units — with built-ups of 494 to 987 sq ft — in two blocks, says Boo.
Facilities at the development will include a rooftop lounge, restaurant, barbecue area, elevated swimming pool, gymnasium, sky garden, children’s playground and cafés.
“Yong Tai wants to associate itself with tourism because this industry does well regardless of the market condition. It is quite resilient and has less risks because the current generation will want to travel no matter how the market is doing. So, it is just how we associate our property with tourism,” says Boo.
The group’s third launch this year will be a project outside of Melaka. Located behind the Fahrenheit 88 shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur, the parcel — two pieces of leasehold land totalling 1.08 acres — was purchased from Datuk Bandar Kuala Lumpur by landowner Iconic Paragon Sdn Bhd, in which Yong Tai has a 70% stake.
“We have an approved plot ratio of 14 for that project, and we plan to offer new products,” Boo says. “We are going to have three products, namely an office block, a hotel and a specialised development.
“We are talking to a corporate office user, which may take up the whole office block with over 200,000 sq ft of space. For the hotel component, it will be a four-star business hotel under the Courtyard by Marriott brand. We will reveal more information on the third product at a later date.”
The RM5.4 billion leasehold Impression City is Yong Tai’s 138-acre flagship development in Kota Laksamana, Melaka. Over the past year, it has grown in size from an initial 117 acres, after two land acquisitions from Laila Development Sdn Bhd as well as a joint development with JM Bestari Land Sdn Bhd.
The Impression Melaka theatre, the central component of the project, will occupy 17 acres. The remaining 121 acres will have residential, hotel, retail and commercial components, which will be developed over 8 to 10 years.
The theatre and a mall next to it, called Terra Square, are now under construction. Impression Melaka is scheduled for completion by the end of this year while Terra Square is expected to be completed in the third quarter of next year.
Sitting on 14.6 acres, the mall will have a total net leasable area of 600,000 sq ft. Boo reveals that a Chinese corporate has bought 60% of the space. Yong Tai will keep and manage the remaining units.
“It will be a mall with a different concept because the design is the reverse of conventional malls. Most malls have shops that face the centre and the centre is a void, with the ground floor being the concourse. For our mall, the shops will look outwards, overlooking the theatre and the Straits of Malacca.
“It will be something like a street mall but it will be covered and have air conditioning because of the hot weather here. So, it will be a street mall with a nice view within a comfortable environment,” he explains.
The mall will provide tourists, who come for shows at Impression Melaka, with a place for entertainment, food and shopping, says Boo. He expects Impression City to have a sustainable population that will have a spillover effect on the business components of the development.
Meanwhile, the first showcase at Impression Melaka is expected to take place by Feb 1 next year.
The theatre, with a seating capacity of 2,000, will present the Impression Series — a live artistic performance co-founded by Zhang Yimou, Wang Chaoge and Fan Yue, the directors of the 2008 Beijing Olympics’ opening and closing ceremonies. As the first Impression Series out of China, the show in Melaka is expected to draw three million tourists in the first year of operation.
Name and type: Amber Cove, leasehold serviced apartment development
Address: Impression City in Melaka
Gross development value: RM290.6 million
No. of units: 838
Layout and built-ups: Two bedrooms and two bathrooms, from 727 to 750 sq ft
Launch date: April 28 to 30
Facilities: Basketball half court, barbecue terrace, library and reading room, game room, swimming pool, wading pool, multipurpose hall, children’s playground, gymnasium, outdoor fitness area
Impression City is a 138-acre township in Kota Laksamana, Melaka. Its central component is the Impression Melaka theatre, which is scheduled for completion by end-2017. The theatre is set to see its first showcase by Feb 1 next year. A mall next to the theatre, called Terra Square, is now under construction and will be completed by 3Q2018.
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