The Avare in a class of its own

By THE STAR

WHO would buy a condominium priced from RM3.9mil to RM11.9mil?

Well, there are wealthy folks who like The Avare Kuala Lumpur so much that they have bought one of the super luxurious condominiums within the prestigious Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) development.

A view of the KLCC park from the 54th floor of The Avare sales office

The original brochure put the prices at RM3.1mil to RM8mil and a press handout dated May 14 said they were from RM3.8mil to RM9.9mil.

When I interviewed Magna Prima Bhd chief executive officer Lim Ching Choy at The Avare’s sales office on the 54th floor of Tower Two, Petronas Twin Towers, last week, I was told that the prices had gone up!

“This is the second round of price increase since I joined the group last November,” said Lim as he pointed to The Avare, under construction on a one-acre freehold site near the junction of Jalan Tun Razak and Lorong Kuda behind the Singapore High Commission.

What a great view!

I could see the huge KLCC Park and the imposing KLCC skyline. The idea of having the sales office so high up is to enable prospective buyers to enjoy a panoramic view of The Avare site and the KLCC, albeit from the opposite side of the park.

Embassy Court, a subsidiary of Magna Prima Bhd, is the developer of this six-star 78-unit condominium with a gross development value of RM309mil. It is designed by Hong Kong-based award-winning architects Robert N Kessler and David J Clarke.

With two units per floor forming a “butterfly” shape (if you buy the two units on the same floor, you get to enjoy a 360-degree view of the city skyline). It comes with a residential title. To date 80% of the 78 “super big” units (with typical units of 3,800 sq ft) have been sold since its first launch at the end of 2005. Half were sold to locals and the rest to foreigners who are mostly owner-occupiers, investors and corporate buyers.

The 7,696 sq ft super penthouse occupying the entire level 38 (or the size of two units of about 3,800 sq ft each) is currently priced at RM11.9mil! There is a smaller penthouse on level 16 and two duplex penthouses on the top two floors that have been sold. The duplexes (5,600 sq ft each) have their own garden and swimming pool.

It’s not just The Avare. Several upmarket condominiums in the KLCC area have also seen price increases of late. The Troika (also a glass-clad super condo) is said to be priced around RM1,500 per sq ft (psf), while the new One KL is said to have hit RM1,600 psf.

Although construction is up to the first few levels only, Lim assured me that the entire 41 floors would be completed within 10 months using the fast-track Miven formwork system.

The typical unit has four bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, maid’s quarters connected to a discreet service entrance, social kitchen and a wet kitchen for Asian cooking.

It also features Low-E glass curtain with an 180-degree view of the city skyline, imported designer bath fittings and finishing, fully-equipped social kitchen, central chilled water air-conditioning, state-of-the-art security systems, broadband access, and three covered car park bays to a unit. Facilities like swimming pool are on the ground floor. Four lifts serve the two units on each floor.

The pricing may seem steep (monthly service charge is around RM2,000), but it is only a fraction the price of a similar super condo in Singapore.

“Our pricing is still very low. Malaysia still lags behind many countries in terms of property prices. For example, condominium prices in Hong Kong were about HK$15,000 psf in 2000. The same unit has now doubled in price to about HK$30,000 psf,” said Lim.

He said condominium prices in Singapore had also risen from S$1,000 to S$1,500 psf two years ago to S$2,500 psf to S$3,000 psf now. He said super luxury condos of about 3,500 sq ft size such as the Orchard Turn had touched S$4,000 (RM9,200) psf.

Lim is unperturbed by the so-called “glut” of condominiums in the KLCC vicinity, as he feels The Avare is in a class of its own and there are not many “super condos” with 3,800 sq ft size.

He is confident that The Avare’s unit could fetch a 7% rental return and possibly between 8% and 9% for a semi-furnished unit, compared with only 2% to 3% for some high-end condominiums in Singapore.

According to Lim, purchasers these days are very sophisticated and well-informed investors who have property investments in Hong Kong, Singapore and other parts of the world. “They expect certain standards. They have done a thorough research and they can see the potential in investing in The Avare,” he added.

I feel one of The Avare’s selling points is that it is so near the Twin Towers that this “glass skyscraper” has a superb view of the entire KLCC which, unlike some condominiums, are either on the fringe or outside the KLCC proper. Some of them are either blocked by tall buildings or are on the more congested side of KLCC.

What’s my take? People living in glass homes should be very careful not to throw objects even if there is a double-layered glass curtain costing RM300,000 per unit! Give me bricks and mortar anytime.

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