Cover Story

By Ili Aqilah, Nantini Krishnan and Tan Mei Kuan

It was in April 2014 when Ipoh made headlines on the U.S. News website by being named one of the places to settle for retirees with its evocative image of calmness, peace and relaxation. Ipoh had its heyday during the heady days of tin but had people bemoaning its sluggishness since the price of tin crashed in the 80s. But Ipoh appears to be emerging from the doldrums especially in the past two years and it is clear that Ipoh is booming with all sorts of new property developments such as hotels, shopping malls and public attractions to name a few. With this flurry of development activity, is Ipoh still the calm, peaceful and relaxing city? Or are we slowly moving to be the next ‘it’ city in Malaysia? Ipoh Echo sends its trio of reporters out to take a ‘temperature’ reading from the residents and the big boys of Ipoh property development.

Flurry of development activities, from high rise, high end to low income affordable

A Look at the Present, Who’s, Where and What’s Coming Up?

Upper East @ Tiger Lane Ipoh by Andaman Property Management Sdn Bhd has reached 75% of completion stage and full completion is expected by the third quarter of 2016. The luxury apartment is currently 80% sold.

Under The Haven Sdn Bhd, award-winning The Haven Ipoh Resort and Residences with its three towers, 26?storey 512 units of high-end luxury condominiums, is fully completed physically and operating well with ongoing efforts in bringing up the value and desirability of the development through maintenance and service. For instance, The Haven is presently fully occupied with improving their overall service and quality of food. With its multitude of facilities designed to cater to residents and guests of three generations (grandparents, parents and children), it is no wonder that The Haven Resort Hotel is a 2016 Travellers’ Choice winner, the highest honour given by TripAdvisor.

Meanwhile, Bandar Baru Sri Klebang is a 650-acre fully integrated township, developed by Kinta EcoCity Sdn Bhd (under Kinta Properties Holdings Sdn Bhd). It features detached, semi-detached and terraced residences dotted with ample landscaped greenery. To date, over 2000 units have been completed since 2001. Its multiple residential offerings include Grand Retreats 2 comprising of detached units and semi-detached units. Meanwhile, Pine Park spotlights 2-storey link homes Aspen and the more spacious Maple. The first phase of Aspen is envisioned to be ready in February 2018 while Maple in December 2017. The guarded community shares a clubhouse, The Centro, which brims with comprehensive facilities.

For Team Keris Berhad (TKB), their current projects span across the commercial, residential and industrial property sectors, making them proud to be able to launch multiple projects at various locations at the same time. The group has undertaken a proportion of development in  other townships of Perak such as Batu Gajah Sentral and Lintang Square @ Sungai Siput. The current running projects for TKB include a commercial hub at Jelapang Square (to complete by August 2016), integrated residential development at Ipoh South Precinct (completion by 2017), residential condominium called Treetops Residency (completion by June 2016) and many more. Being one of the biggest household names in the Perak property industry, TKB has always prided itself on having a mixed and diversified portfolio going forward which includes integrated townships and commercial centres both within Ipoh and in greater Perak.

Affordable houses are also available for the younger generations and first time buyers. For example, Suria@Meru (ranging price from RM263,800 to RM273,800) is scheduled to complete by December next year is located at Zone 9 at Bandar Meru Raya. Developed by Cempaka Majujaya Sdn Bhd,  a joint-venture company formed by Sunny Reap Development and a subsidiary of PKNP, PCB Development Sdn Bhd.

 

How Does it Affect the Current Residents?

We took the liberty to go around to hear what residents feel about the ongoing developments in their area. According to Susie, a Masters student of Urban and Regional Planning who lives in Puncak Meru since 2002, developments such as the upcoming Movie Animation Park Studios in Meru Raya will attract more people to Ipoh leading to an increased state income and number of facilities. “It will make Ipoh famous but sustainable development should be emphasised,” added Susie.

As for Khor Boon Leong, 51, a resident from The Haven said “Almost all of the residents that I know love this combination of residents, guests, and owners. The benefits are tremendous in that long-term residents like us have the benefits of extraordinary security, service and good food.”

“We love the development, it is a tremendous home for me. It has been one of the best decisions in my life moving from bungalow house to The Haven. The security, service and friendliness in this place says it all,” said resident from The Haven, Lee Hooi Hong, 66.

“Big brands are coming to what we used to call a sleepy town. This will be a good opportunity for Ipoh to brand itself on a higher level as compared to previously and thus attract more investors from out of Perak, namely Penang, Kuala Lumpur or maybe even Singapore,” said Mike Chu, 27, a writer for yellowtuktuk.com. He also believes that the rise in property development will also provide more jobs and business opportunities to the locals here.

Japanese couple, Dato’ Tomiyasu Ushiama and Datin Mina Ushiama have been living in Meru Valley Resort for the past ten years. They enjoy the fresh air and the verdant green of Meru.

“Ipoh, in particular Meru Valley Resort, is a beautiful place for us retirees particularly its kind people and delicous food,” Mina, a big fan of laksa, said. Tomiyasu, 77, came to Ipoh in 1969 and joined later by Mina in 1974. Both expressed their sadness at the additional developments in Ipoh as it destroys nature especially the underappreciated karst landscape. Tomiyasu is among the first Japanese entrepreneurs in Malaysia and is one of the founding members of the Perak Malaysian-Japanese Friendship Society.

 

What Good Can It Do for the Community?

In many cases, developments have brought positive benefit in the form of extra housing supply. The ongoing developments by The Haven Sdn Bhd Ipoh, Andaman Property Management Sdn Bhd, Team Keris Berhad and Kinta Properties in Perak have potential benefits including the provision of better housing to accommodate additional households, the possibility of increased property values if new development is well designed and complements existing housing, the possibility that development brings in new infrastructure, longer term improvements in affordability across the housing market and additional spending and investment in local shops and services.

According to Peter Chan, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Haven Sdn Bhd, The Haven Ipoh, provide residents and guests an experience of living at the edge of a pristine primary forest within the perimeter of the city. The low cost of units provide tremendous value, and as eco-friendly as possible, it can be used as a residence, guest or retirement home at the same time.

For Andaman Property Management Sdn Bhd, their unique selling point is the  Upper East development, located right in the middle of Tiger Lane – the Kenny Hills of Ipoh. With its Olympic-length swimming pool, numerous facilities, multi-tiered security, six minute drive to airport, four minute drive to the Perak Royal Golf Club and within walking distance to the Turf Club, it is slated to bring new life to the city.

Kinta Properties’ upcoming EcoVillage (scheduled to complete by July 2016) is being developed by its subsidiary Meru Valley Resort Berhad in Meru Valley Resort. Imagine living in its exclusive collection of villas, townhouses and apartments set in an enclave right smack in the middle of a spectacular world class golf course! With over 166 units, the EcoVillage comes with eco friendly features. For instance, the villas are equipped with the rainwater harvesting system that will recycle rain water while the townhouses with the energy saving solar heater. Thanks to its extra windows at a high level, all residents will get to enjoy natural sunlight and ventilation. Plus, there will be energy-efficient LED lights in common areas. In their Klebang development, several 24-hour guarded communities with secured perimeter fencing wall,  closed-circuit television cameras and township facilities bring alive their  well-sustained tagline of LIVE, LEARN & PLAY in providing a holistic lifestyle to the communities within. 

Will Ipoh Remain The Same?

Known for its charming and peaceful composure, will Ipoh still be the quiet city people love or will it slowly transform into a crowded city like Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Baharu? When asked whether Ipoh is overbuilt, TKB believes that Ipoh has still plenty of room to grow, tapping into multiple infrastructures, commercial and tourism related catalysts that are in the current market. Kinta Properties also shared the same sentiments as the team still receive demands from younger generation and first time home buyers.

But one cannot deny that too many developments may slowly ruin the image of Ipoh. With many property companies doing similar projects, perhaps what Ipoh needs is something unique and different.

“What Ipoh needs is ingenuity, fresh attractions and concerted efforts to make the city unique and attractive. Without these efforts, the chances are that Ipoh will down-slide to the days of 1990s again,” said Peter Chan, the CEO of The Haven.

Here in Ipoh Echo, we are definitely looking forward for more developments to build up the city that Ipoh truly deserves. Much like what was said earlier by Peter Chan, we hope the developers of Ipoh properties will take this opportunity to create projects that will not only be beneficial for tourists but also for its current residents.