Edusentral apartments snapped up within hours
Sonia Ramachandran | 16 Jun 2017 00:30

EMERGING developer The HCK Group bucked the industry trend of poor take-up with buyers snapping up all 505 residential units of the second phase of its Edusentral @ Setia Alam hours after its launch on June 11. 

The first phase comprises the Peninsula International School Australia and the commercial enclave called V-Biz Hub, while phase two consists of 505 serviced suites and apartments in two towers called Stanford and Yale. The launch also coincided with the opening of the development’s sales gallery.

The overwhelming response despite the soft market reflects home buyers and investors’ confidence in the sustainability of an integrated business model that ensures catchment and occupancy.

With Stanford and Yale suites all snapped up, registration is open for Cornell suites, part of the next phase that will also comprise Imperial and Princeton suites.

Some 75% of the Stanford and Yale units are priced below RM360,000 each.
The residential towers are named after prestigious universities in keeping with the project’s education theme.

Stanford has 224 residential units occupying 16 floors of the 26-storey tower, with offices taking up 4 1/2 storeys and carparks the rest. Yale houses 281 residential suites on 26 floors of the 33-storey tower, with the rest for carparks. Both towers will share a recreational deck on the seventh floor. 

The Stanford suites come in three sizes of 498, 499 and 657 sq ft, while the Yale suites have built-ups of 502, 728 and 836 sq ft. Yale will also have dual-key units. Cornell will have 307 suites of between 502 and 836 sq ft.

Maiden development
Executive chairman Tan Sri Clement Hii says the launch of Edusentral and the opening of the sales gallery are important milestones for the group and him personally.

He attributes this to several factors, one is that the project is the group’s own maiden development.

Hii says HCK has been in the property market for a few years, mainly as an en-bloc purchaser that resells the properties later after adding value to them. With projects totalling about RM1 bil in gross development value (GDV), HCK is probably one of the biggest en-bloc purchasers and resellers. 

“But from this experience I have learnt a few things. One is that if you are not the one who is building the entire blocks and the project itself, you have little control over the quality or the delivery time.

“Moving forward, we will mainly build our own projects, and this is our first own major project,” says Hii, who is also group managing director of SEG International Bhd, a listed tertiary education provider with a student enrolment of 25,000. He is also executive chairman of listed HCK Capital Group Bhd.

The 4.5ha Edusentral, with an estimated GDV of RM1.3 bil, comprises an international school, six blocks of residential suites and 44 retail units in five commercial blocks.

Hii’s experience and passion for education is evident in the project with the Peninsula International School Australia incorporated as part of the development. 

“Edusentral incorporates education, which is something I am very passionate about. I have been in this industry for about 18 years and that is indeed a very long time for anyone.

“So when I combined education with property development, it is an added value we are bringing to the entire project,” he says.

The Peninsula International School is a partnership between The HCK Group and Peninsula Grammar, a renowned primary and secondary boarding school in Melbourne, Australia.

The HCK Group deputy managing director Ong Chou Wen said the company’s decision to launch the K12 international school campus and commercial component ahead of the residential units had bolstered confidence among home buyers and investors on the sustainability of the education city. K12 refers to the period from kindergarten or pre-school up to Year 12, which is pre-university.

Edusentral will also be the first of the group’s Edu-Series branded developments. “The Peninsula International School Australia, which will commence classes in January 2018, will be the catalyst to enhance market confidence for the residential and commercial components,” says Ong. 

He adds that the school, with a capacity of 3,500 students, will provide a sizeable catchment to the commercial component of Edusentral, on top of adjacent buildings like the 1 National Institute of Health. Setia Alam was also awarded the FIABCI World’s Best Masterplan Development 2013.

Successful launch
When the residential towers are ready for vacant possession, the international school would have been operating for an estimated three years, providing buyers and investors assured rental returns from boarding students, administrators, locals and expatriate staff.

“The synergy between the educational, commercial and residential components of the development is what sets Edusentral @ Setia Alam apart from the rest. 

“Buyers and investors often question about catchment so that value creation is attainable and their investments pay off. This educational oriented mixed-use development will address their concerns,” explains Ong.

A huge crowd of over 1,000 attended the recent launch of the two residential towers, Stanford and Yale, as well as the sales gallery.

Purchasers were treated to a lion dance performance as well as a lucky draw for two pairs of air tickets to Melbourne, televisions, microwave ovens, sound-base and iPhone dock systems.

The fun-filled event also had bubble sports, face painting, a giant chess game and photo opportunities with “superheroes” such as Captain America and Wonder Woman.

Besides Edusentral, The HCK Group has its second Edu-Series development underway in Cyberjaya, namely the Edusphere, with a different academic setting for undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in medical sciences.  

The RM1.8 bil Edusphere development includes a RM280 mil full-fledged campus to be built for the Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences that can accommodate up to 10,000 students.

The 9.7ha project will also have offices and commercial blocks as well as a range of residential apartments to complete the wholesome sustainable programmes.

“Our target launch for Edusphere is in October,” says Ong.

Core business
The HCK Group, a relatively new industry player, has created a niche in the market by incorporating an educational component in some of its projects.

Hii’s goal is to have property development as a core business of the diversified group. “This simply means that most of our emphasis, commitment and attention will be placed towards this product area,” he says.

“This is not so much because of the huge investments involved but also because it is not just a business but also a social responsibility. Education is also a social responsibility.

“It is our responsibility to deliver what investors need and want, and it is our responsibility to make their realty dreams a reality.”

He believes there are a few simple steps to make this core business a success – a unique concept, quality, repeat customers and customer care. Every future project of the company must have a unique concept on its own, he says.

“When you talk about launching a project, it is not just building blocks and apartments. It is about creating activity, buzz and, most importantly, about creating communities.

“For Edusentral, I want to create a community that connects with each other right in the core of an intelligent city where education and every commercial aspect is at their doorsteps,” he says.

Then there is quality, he adds. “We have to keep a very close eye on detail and quality because working with other people’s projects, I could say we don’t have control over quality. But if it is our own project, there is no more excuse to say, ‘Oh well, it is not my fault’. The buck stops here.”

To succeed, he says there must also be repeat customers. “To get repeat buyers, we must ensure that all the projects that we do appreciate in value. By appreciation, I don’t just mean against inflation but also by building communities of like-minded individuals who thrive towards a common goal.” 

Hii is also banking on his track record and experience to instil confidence in purchasers. 

“I want to bring the concept of appreciation, not only to equities or share prices, but also to the properties that we build.

“So we add value, create good branding, make sure the people believe in us and we make sure they believe in the products that we sell so that they appreciate over time,” he says.

He emphasises that customer care must remain a priority “because without the customers, we have no business to run, no project to build and we have no community to create”.

“Customer care is not about signing the SPA (sale and purchase agreement) and saying goodbye. Customer care is about seeing them through the whole process and beyond, giving a sense of belonging and a partnership,” he says.

Other segments
The HCK Group executive director Clifford Hii says while the company is targeting the affordable market segment with its pricing, it will be diversifying into other segments in future.

“For the property side in the next few projects, we will be adding education components into them as that will be our niche market. 

“For now we are targeting the affordable range but a few years from now, we will be doing projects that are more in the mid- to high-end range whereby our products will be differentiated by the luxury features that we will add,” Clifford says.

Ong concurs, saying that in addition to the Edu-Series, which has an education component, there will also be a “green” series and an “exclusive” series in future.

Doing it right
Hii is not perturbed about the current soft property market. “I believe that despite the challenging times, if you do the right packaging and offer the right products in the right location, there will still be a demand for them.”

He adds that The HCK Group, in making property development its core focus, “must be seen to do the right things and to do things right”.

“I believe that in five years we would have already made a mark, and in 10 years we would have established ourselves as a key property player.”

Chances are Hii’s projections are modest, given the group has close to RM10 bil projects  in the pipeline. 

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