A royal turns developer


Oversized wrought-iron lamps and sandstone-covered columns overlooking a lap pool with a stylish water-feature wall on the side welcome visitors to La Mizandrie. One can hear the satisfaction and pride in Tunku Naquiyuddin Tuanku Jaafar’s voice as he describes his first “baby”. The exclusive boutique development of just four units of condominium in Ukay Heights had taken longer than expected to be completed but the end result has been more than satisfactory.

The Negri Sembilan prince’s maiden project was launched at the end of March by none other than his parents the Yang di-Pertuan Besar Negri Sembilan and Tunku Ampuan Negri Sembilan. “I did not hear it directly from her but the Tunku Ampuan told somebody that the place looks even better than the istana [palace],” says her beaming son. Located on top of a hill in Ukay Heights, Ampang, five minutes away from the KL International School, La Mizandrie has a bird’s eye view of KLCC and the surrounding area.

The 17,000 sq ft plot of land was acquired for about RM2 million four years ago while construction cost came up to around RM4 million. Each of the three-bedroom units has a built-up of 3,500 sq ft and comes with solid wood built-in wardrobes, including a walk-in in the master bedroom, a maid’s or guest room and three parking bays. The kitchen is fully equipped with a refrigerator, oven and stove. The master bedroom also has an adjoining private study.
The homes, however, are not for sale. “It is my first baby, so I feel sayang to sell,” says the executive chairman of Sino Hua-an International Bhd, which took over Antah Holdings Bhd’s Main Board listing status in March this year as part of Antah’s restructuring exercise.
“Besides, I have four children and technically, each of them could own one and stay together if they want,” he adds.

Tunku Naquiyuddin also points out that some of the richest men in the world amass their wealth in real estate. “Why sell when you can own properties? I believe that if you don’t need to sell it, don’t sell it.”

Hence, the royal has decided to lease out the units for between RM16,000 and RM18,000 each. The rental will be inclusive of 24-hour security and maintenance of the common area.
La Mizandrie’s theme is a mix of Mediterranean and Asian architectural influences, for which Tunku Naquiyuddin credits his cousin Tunku Mizan Tunku Maamor — after whom the development is named.

The only brief from Tunku Naquiyuddin was that it had to reflect his lifestyle. And since the prince entertains a lot, La Mizandrie has been envisaged as an ideal place for feting guests.
“I like to enjoy the outdoors and the evening air before going in to dine,” says Tunku Naquiyuddin. Hence, the common outdoor-cum-entertaining area, which can easily accommodate 60 people, has high ceilings for an airy feeling, while each home has a large verandah with a bar unit and smaller balconies for every bedroom.

While he left most of the work to Tunku Mizan, Tunku Naquiyuddin says he “contributed little ideas”.

His ideas may seem little but speak volumes about him, especially in the way the comforts of whoever lives there have been seen to. For one, the prince insisted that a lift be installed although there are only three levels to the building, “so elderly parents don’t have to climb the stairs”. If one chooses not to use the lift, there is the staircase, a feature in itself, with its intricate wrought-iron railings, running all the way up to the top floor.

Then, there are the additional hand-held showers that Tunku Naquiyuddin also insisted on, in addition to the rain showers “because the ladies may not want to get their hair wet”.
“Little things like these are important,” he stresses.

He also had a hand in the selection of the chandeliers in the main living area, the master bedroom and the dining room. And as one who is known for his appreciation of the finer things in life, he also made sure that they are hung at just the right height. “A chandelier has to be hung in a way that it can be appreciated, not so high that no one can admire it properly,” he says.
Nature lover Tunku Naquiyuddin also “saved” several old trees on the site although it meant spending extra to accommodate them.

The novice developer admits that the project had run into problems, which delayed its completion. He had to replace his contractor although 25% of the job had already been completed. “I am a stickler for quality and he was not performing up to the mark. I had to reject some of the things he did so the project was about five months delayed.
“One must build with the heart, you know. It is like baking a cake; all the ingredients must be mixed well and he was not mixing them well.”

Tunku Naquiyuddin, however, found a replacement in his regular odd-jobs man Eddie Chow, who had been carrying out renovation jobs for him. “We hired Eddy on a retainer basis to finish the job while we managed the project ourselves. He brought in some excellent people to carry out the rest of the work.”

So pleased is the prince with La Mizandrie that he has decided to quickly move on to his next project. This time, he is going to build a 10-storey condominium, comprising 60 units including duplexes and a 8,000 sq ft penthouse, where his present bungalow home sits. Boasting 30,000 sq ft of land, the bungalow on Jalan Ampang Hilir is surrounded by 10-storey buildings and “since I can’t beat them, I am going to join them”, quips Tunku Naquiyuddin. Again, he plans to sell only if he needs to. “So, it looks like I might just be a developer!” he says, grinning happily when told that he already is one.

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