This article first appeared in City & Country, The Edge Malaysia Weekly on March 22, 2021 - March 28, 2021
Despite the fact that most Malaysians would prefer to own a landed property, high-rise residences have become an affordable option for many. Johor-based developer MB World Group Bhd is looking to cater for this demand in the southern state with the launch of Trellis Residences in April.
The high-rise development is a component of a larger project called MBW City, which has an estimated gross development value (GDV) of RM2 billion and sits on 18.66 acres of freehold land in Johor Baru city centre. The project is located at the intersection of major roads such as the Inner Ring Road, Jalan Tun Abdul Razak and Jalan Abdul Rahman Andak, and is close to the Causeway, the Sultan Iskandar CIQ Complex, JB Sentral and the future Bukit Chagar RTS Link Station.
MBW City will have a total of three phases. Phase 1 — a high-rise development called Veranda Residences — was launched in August last year. The project has an estimated GDV of RM622 million and offers 1,298 units housed in four towers.
Sitting on 7.584 acres, it utilises a twin-podium design, where two towers share one podium. Towers A and B were launched in August, and 38% of the units have been taken up to date. Selling prices start from RM480,000 and the built-ups are 632, 850 and 1,023 sq ft, with the largest units offering a dual-key layout. Towers C and D are scheduled for launch in 2026.
Phase 2 is Trellis Residences while Phase 3 will be a mixed-use development comprising a 30-storey apartment block that sits atop a retail-cum-commercial space of about 85,000 sq ft, according to MB World’s business development director Datuk Rohman Ahmad.
“[The commercial space] will span about 85,000 sq ft. The targeted tenant mix will cater for the daily needs of the residents at MBW City and the locality, such as a supermarket, nursery, co-working space, F&B outlets, retail stores and shops that offer other services,” he says.
Meanwhile, Trellis Residences sits on a 6.35-acre parcel and has an estimated GDV of RM539 million. There will be a total of 1,737 units housed in three 29-storey towers.
Four layouts are being offered — studio (295 sq ft), one bedroom (435 sq ft), two bedrooms (697 sq ft) and 1+2 bedrooms (1,001 sq ft; dual-key unit). The indicative selling prices range from RM220,000 to RM623,000.
One of the sub-units in the dual-key layout would be suitable for an elderly family member or an adult child, or can be rented out for passive income.
“About 80% of the units are studio or one-bedroom apartments. Trellis Residences is designed to suit singles, couples or smaller families,” says Rohman.
The studio and one-bedroom units will come with basic furniture and built-ins such as a dining table and chairs, wardrobe, kitchen cabinet, cooker hood and hob, air-conditioning ducts and digital door locks. Purchasers will be given a voucher(s) upon vacant possession to redeem their air-conditioning unit(s), as stated in their sale and purchase agreement, to be installed in a room of their choice, he says.
The larger units will be partially furnished, but the kitchen will be fitted out with cabinets, cooker hood and hob, air-conditioning ducts and digital door locks. “[The larger units] will give residents greater freedom of choice to decorate their units according to their living needs and styles. Bathroom fittings such as hand basin, sitting water closet, tissue roll holder and shower hose will be provided for all units,” says Rohman.
The facilities for residents will be on the podium level, which will take up 10,713 sq m (115,313.77 sq ft or 2.64 acres) of space. “The space will be optimised to offer facilities for all age groups,” he says.
There will be three zones — Wellness, Social and Leisure. At Wellness, there will be a reflexology path, outdoor fitness area, fitness club, tai chi/yoga deck, herb garden, swimming pool and basketball court. Social will offer a barbecue pit area, party terrace, chess/family terrace, multipurpose hall and reading room while Leisure will have a children’s adventure zone, games room and kids playroom.
In addition to these facilities, there will also be a one-acre linear park at MBW City, says Rohman. Originally a retention and detention pond, it has been transformed into a park that will offer a jogging path within well-landscaped grounds that add some greenery to the development.
With Johor’s high-rise residential market still soft amid the pandemic, why is the developer launching Trellis Residences next month?
“We think this is the right market to target. Also, we cannot stop all of our developments as we need to get our cash flow and operations running,” says Rohman.
“We think with the right product at this time, the sales will move. We have not even launched yet, but we have received almost 300 inquiries from interested parties.
“The current market situation has been dampened by uncertainties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, housing is a basic necessity. After experiencing the Movement Control Order, many have also realised the importance of having a private space that not only serves as a dwelling unit but also a workplace and a space for leisure.”
The developer is utilising online tools to market its products. This approach, together with the right pricing strategy, has resulted in improved sales. “We are leveraging digital and online tools to promote our projects — for example, conducting virtual viewings of show units, presenting to customers via video conferencing tools and so on,” says Rohman.
He is confident that Johor’s soft high-rise residential market has not dampened interest in the developer’s products at MBW City. “It all depends on the price. If the price is right and the location is right, people will still buy,” he adds.
KGV International Property Consultants (Johor) Sdn Bhd executive director Samuel Tan notes that Johor is dealing with a large overhang situation and a soft market that has been compounded by the pandemic, which have seen the overall volume and value of property transactions drop. “Sales of high-rise residential properties have slowed due to weak market sentiment and concerns about persistent oversupply. The market will take time to absorb the overhang and supply of high-rise residential properties in the pipeline,” he says.
“Despite the current weak market conditions as a result of a confluence of factors such as Covid-19, the US-China trade war and our uncertain political landscape, one must be cognisant of the fact that the property market moves in cycles. With catalytic developments such as the Rapid Transit System (RTS) project, the Gemas-Johor Baru railway electrified double-tracking project and Bus/Automated Rapid Transit (BRT or ART) in Iskandar Malaysia being promising long-term projects, the spillover effect from these catalytic projects and associated investments will eventually benefit the property market.”
He points out that despite the overhang in high-rise residences, these products will eventually be a common sight in Johor as land is scarce and will become more expensive in the long term. “Going forward, reasonably priced high-rise developments with unique concepts and developers with proven track record will continue to attract buyers. The key is to offer something unique and is value for money,” he says.
On MB World’s offerings at MBW City, Tan says, “Both Veranda Residences and Trellis Residences appear to be targeted at first-time homebuyers and small families. Those working in Singapore will find these good propositions due to their location.”
This month, MB World will open for sale a high-rise development called Sierra Heights in Plentong, Johor. With an estimated GDV of RM152 million, the low-density, high-rise project sits on a 6.26-acre freehold parcel and offers 406 units housed in two towers.
“The project offers 2+1 bedrooms with a built-up of 850 sq ft and three bedrooms with a built-up of 1,000 sq ft. Each unit comes with a balcony and is entitled to two parking bays,” says Rohman.
The selling price of these units ranges from RM347,400 to RM441,000. Each unit is partially furnished with air-conditioning ducts, kitchen cabinets and a cooker hood and hob.
The facilities include a playground, swimming pool, wading pool, Jacuzzi, barbecue pit, jogging track, multifunction hall, children’s playroom, reading lounge, games area and gymnasium.
“We are targeting first-time homebuyers, young working adults who wish to own a home, upgraders from nearby areas and people who are interested in buying an investment property for rental purposes,” says Rohman.
The project has residential status, which means the utility rates are lower than commercial-titled serviced apartments, he points out. Moreover, its location is close to the Johor Baru East Coast Highway, which provides access to JB city centre and the ports in Pasir Gudang.
“The project also has easy access to the ‘Smart City of Knowledge’ Bandar Seri Alam, which houses many reputable schools, including Foon Yew High School Seri Alam and Repton International School,” he says.
MB World’s ongoing projects include its RM2.51 billion integrated township Taman Sri Penawar, which is located in Bandar Penawar, Kota Tinggi, Johor. It covers 470 acres, of which 456 acres has been set aside for development while the remaining 14 acres are slopes that are not suitable for property or infrastructure developments, says Rohman.
To date, 40% of the development land, or about 73 acres, has been developed. There are a total of 751 one-storey terraced houses, 988 two-storey terraced houses and 161 two-storey shopoffices.
Rohman says future launches will include 507 two-storey terraced houses and 480 two-storey cluster houses. Taman Sri Penawar is expected to keep the developer busy until 2027.
In August 2018, MB World launched Novo 8 Residence in Jalan Kampung Lapan, Melaka, which has seen a take-up rate of 85% to date. With an estimated GDV of RM191 million, this high-rise project is slated for completion by the first half of this year. It sits on a 2.4-acre freehold parcel and comprises 412 apartment units with built-ups of 515 to 1,300 sq ft. Prices start at RM284,000.
Another ongoing project is Perdana Heights in Taman Sri Pulai Perdana, Skudai, Johor. With an estimated GDV of RM93 million, the development comprises 159 two-storey terraced houses, with built-ups from 2,011 sq ft and land sizes ranging from 22ft by 70ft to 22ft by 80ft. Selling prices start from RM623,000.
“Since its official launch in July 2020, the project has received good response from the public, with many being home upgraders from nearby areas. The current take-up rate is 97%,” says Rohman.
MB World has 49.62 acres of land in Teluk Jawa, Johor Baru, with plans for an integrated development. “The site will be developed into an integrated waterfront township that will comprise both commercial and residential components, including affordable homes under the Johor Affordable Housing Scheme (Rumah Mampu Biaya Johor, or RMBJ), shopoffices, serviced apartments and a commercial centre,” he says.
“The first phase of the township comprises 105 affordable homes under the RMBJ scheme, 63 two-storey terraced houses and shoplots that are slated for launch this year.”
MB World is branching out of the southern states. Its maiden project in Penang will be a revival and rehabilitation of a high-end project in Bukit Mertajam, says Rohman. “The project will be renamed Novo 3 Residence and will feature high-rise serviced apartments, with about 287 units and some
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