Developers pulled by strong growth potential

By THE STAR

ALTHOUGH Sabah’s real estate sector is not as robust as its tourism counterpart, the potential for growth is strong with developers from Peninsular Malaysia getting on the bandwagon and contributing new ideas to spice up the market.

As Sabah is a major tourism hub, the potential for foreign investment in its property market has become a magnet for developers.

Joining the big local players such as Hap Seng Consolidated Bhd, Wah Mie Group and Karambunai Corp Bhd are Ireka Corp Bhd, Siah Brothers and WCT Land Bhd.

Ireka executive director Lai Voon Hon said there was a lot of room for future growth in the real estate sector, particularly high and mid-end hotels, resorts and other tourism-related development.

“In the short to medium term, there is already some oversupply in certain property sub-sectors such as shopping centres, shophouses and mid-priced houses and apartments in Kota Kinabalu. This is mainly due to the small population base of Sabah in relation to the size of the projects being undertaken,” Voon Hon said.

Some of the new landmark projects are Sandakan Harbour Square, One Borneo, and KK Times Square. There is also a redevelopment of the old port by Suria Capital.

“If Sabah can continue to attract foreigners and Malaysians from the peninsula to set up their second homes in the state, there will be scope for high-end homes and apartments, and even shopping centres.

“Many Japanese, South Koreans and Taiwanese have already bought properties here. To attract foreign investors under the Malaysia My Second Home programme, the state government and the private sector will need to continuously upgrade public amenities services such as international class hospitals, schools and utilities,” Voon Hon said.

Ireka ventured into the market in 2001 with its maiden project, Luyang Perdana, introducing the first gated landed housing community in the city.

With lush green landscaping and children-friendly master plan layout, it is also the first to introduce the concept of townhouse villas with condominium facilities catering to the younger population.

Lai said Luyang Perdana had succeeded in setting a new benchmark in terms of design, lifestyle living and prices of its houses in Sabah.

At Sutera Harbour Resort, gated residential enclaves are also sprouting up.

WCT Land Bhd is looking to launch its latest project, d’Banyam Residency, on a 21.5-acre tract within the Sutera Harbour Resort development this year.

Executive director Lai Yeng Fock said the development comprised 14 detached villas, 48 semi-detached villas and 60 link villas.

“Sutera Harbour is one of the most prestigious locations in Sabah. We are targeting at well-to-do locals as well as foreigners like South Koreans who frequent the area,” he said.

In Sandakan, Ireka is undertaking the Sandakan Harbour Square – a modern urban renewal project that involves sea reclamation, re-development of the Sandakan Central Market and a new Waterfront Square.

The RM450mil joint venture with a local company, Geofusion Sdn Bhd, and Sandakan Municipal Council has added 25% more land to the bustling Sandakan central business district.

According to Voon Hon, the development has completely transformed the waterfront view of the central business district, and with the imposing Rotunda Seafood Restaurant and Fish Market, it is now the new icon and landmark for Sandakan.

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