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Changing the face of PJ

Star – Date: 22/11/2008 (Bizweek)

Changing the face of PJ
Stories by S.C. Cheah

A NEW generation of office buildings have mushroomed in several parts of Petaling Jaya over the past few years in tandem with growing demand for better office space outside the city centre.

However, as the economy faces tough challenges in view of the current global financial crisis, the local property market has also experienced a general slowdown. The consensus among property developers is that times would be “bad” next year, although few would admit it openly.

At Jaya One, residents have more choices in terms of dining and shopping.Some developers who joined the office market craze in Petaling Jaya in the past few years may be lucky as they have managed to complete their projects and sold or tenanted out most of their office and retail spaces.

These are the new generation strata office developments where some of them have retail components. They are mainly found along the Federal Highway (mostly purpose-built integrated offices like PJ City, PJ8) and in Section 13, 14 and 19 like Jaya 33, Jaya One, The Quill 9 and 3 Two Square.

Affluent townships like Bandar Utama and Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) are also seeing several new office projects (Menara Surian next to Ikano Power Centre and three in Bandar Utama City Centre viz Plaza IBM, KPMG Tower and 1, First Avenue. With Bandar Utama being awarded the MSC Cybercentre status in October, it would enhance the value of properties there).

Ken Group is also planning to build an office block in TTDI.

Coming up in the Kampung Kayu Area is 10 Boulevard and nearby, just after the Damansara toll plaza is the new Merchant Square.

There are many more being planned or under construction.
Chan: PJ people can now work in PJ and this has helped to reduce traffic jams.

Those that have just been launched or just completed may face an uncertain future. This may be partly due to a softening market that is expected to get worse next year.

Although oil prices have dipped recently, there are still fears that it might jump next year, causing another round of fears and uncertainty. The global financial “tsunami” may hit our shores hard next year.

Meanwhile, a rough poll shows that generally the office market in Petaling Jaya, especially for the new developments, are holding up fairly well.

Businesses today want to be seen as progressive and not holed up in some old shop houses. They do not mind paying a premium to own or rent offices that are well located and have lots of amenities.

S K Brothers Realty Sdn Bhd general manager Chan Ai Cheng points out that employees are also choosy in not only who they are working for, but also where they work, as in location.

“An interesting thing while marketing 3 Two Square is that we noticed that businesses were moving out of the older shop offices and shop houses to new developments as their former image had made it difficult for them to hire staff, much less retain them. Young graduates today are looking at working in fine offices, and places with a nice address plus extra perks. It reflects the changing times,” she says, adding that many companies who had their roots in Petaling Jaya were also reluctant to relocate elsewhere.

“When we bought our office space in 3 Two Square, prices were around RM260 psf to RM280 psf but it has since gone up. We transacted a unit at 3 Two Square early this year for RM315 psf. Recently, we transacted another office space just above our unit at RM380 psf. Office rental rates there are in the region of RM2.30 to RM2.70 psf,” says the daughter of SK Brothers founder Charlie Chan.SK Brothers, she says, is one such company that had bought office space in 3 Two Square which is very near its former office in Paramount Garden that it had been operating since 1979.

Chan says she has a friend who bought a unit at 3 Two Square a few months before completion and managed to almost immediately rent out her unit to a pharmaceutical company; for a year now, she has been enjoying rental returns of close to 10% per annum.

Chan says her company’s decision to buy a unit in 3 Two Square was based on factors such as accessibility, matured neighbourhood, track record of the developer, ample car park bays and unique features including its wide frontage lots with a minimum of 28ft for high advertising exposures.

She said Quill 9 at Jalan Semangat which is due for completion soon has BMW as its ground floor tenant. Developed by the Quill Group, it has big floor plates of 20,000 sq ft to 50,000 sq ft with rentals from RM4.30 psf.

“All these new developments are a welcoming change for residents of Petaling Jaya. I have lived in PJ all my life and in the early days there was only Jaya Supermarket and the Right Angle in Section 14,” she adds.

“Today with Jaya One, Jaya 33 and others, residents have more choices in terms of dining and shopping, As more companies relocate their offices here, it has also enabled PJ residents to find jobs nearer their homes. PJ people can now work in PJ and this has helped to reduce traffic jams and improve people’s life,” she adds.

Instead of developing traditional type shop houses, developers have differentiated themselves with new products and concepts.

For example, Jaya 33 has a hyper office concept, VSQ (pronounced as V Square) has corporate offices with serviced apartments, 3 Two Square is marketed as hybrid shop offices while Jaya One in Section 13 (along Jalan Universiti) has a mix of stand alone office block, and restaurants designed in courtyard styles.

The new projects along the Federal Highway include the newly completed PJ8, PJ City and fairly new Menara LYL.

A 6-storey office block with two basement car parks is under construction two lots from Menara LYL. These, along with Menara Axis, Crystal Plaza and the row of motor showrooms (Mercedes-Benz, Chevrolet, Mazda, Ssyangyong, VW, Naza World, Subaru and Ford on the opposite of the highway) are transforming this part of Petaling Jaya into a vibrant office cum retail hub.