Cyberjaya bides its time as a revival of sorts appears in the horizon with RM600 million sales in land expected this year, mainly to private developers
Self-sustaining ICT Centre
Of late, Cyberjaya has been hogging the limelight after a period of relative quiet. Not surprising as a flurry of property launches elsewhere spills over to this special enclave better known as Malaysia’s First Intelligent City. Question marks raised previously about its livability, despite its enviable features, are slowly beginning to be put to rest as more investments pour in, with estimates ranging between RM2 – RM5 billion so far.
Touted as the ‘Silicon Valley’ of Malaysia, this huge tract of land, next to the administrative capital, Putrajaya, was nothing more than an oil palm plantation 12 years ago. Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohammad then had this grand idea about transforming it into a self-sustaining knowledge-based nucleus, a copy of America’s Silicon Valley, if you will.
As with all grand ideas, it started with a bang in 1999 but thereafter development was rather slow and piecemeal. Despite several big name multinational companies operating there and three institutions of higher learning, the majority of students and ICT workers share the same sentiment about the place. As one Multimedia University student from Uganda, C. Okalaney said, as recent as August this year:
“Cyberjaya is a a baren land which can be good and bad at the same time. Foreign students like the fact that it’s quite far from the hustle and bustle of KL but it would help if there were hypermarkets, more eating places and a cinema or two within the vicinity so that we wouldn’t have to go far. As of now, you need to have self transport to get somewhere within a reasonable time. The buses have a long wait time. If I were to work in Cyberjaya, I wouldn’t buy property there. I would most likely live in nearby Puchong or Subang Jaya which is much cheaper and has a wider variety of amenities”.
That is all about to change, if the current momentum carries over within the next 10 -15 years. Since last year, estimates of up to 7 developers have purchased land in Cyberjaya and several big ones like Mah Sing Bhd and Glomac Bhd have launched new projects there. Setia Haruman’s chief operating officer Lao Chok Keang was recently quoted as saying that the price of commercial land there has increased to RM120 per sq ft from RM100 per sq ft. This is still way cheaper than land in Kuala Lumpur City Centre which at present averages about RM1,000 – RM2,000 per sq ft.
The COO added that Setia Haruman, the master developer is currently in talks with five parties, three of which are public-listed companies, who are keen to acquire land in Cyberjaya for development. Last year alone, land worth an estimated RM500 million was sold compared to RM300 million in 2008. This year, the figure is expected to rise to RM600 million, according to Lao. Currently, about 35% of 3,705 acres of saleable land has been taken up.
Cyberjaya covers 7,129 acres of freehold land consisting of four main zones known as enterprise, commercial, institutional and residential. Each zone is fully equipped with a host of intelligent network services and interactive broadband services.
MNCs Inflow Continues
Total investments in building construction to date is about RM5 billion, Rashid Mat, General Manager (business, corporate communications and planning) of Cyberview Sdn Bhd, the landowner of Cyberjaya was quoted to have said. He added that the inflow of MNCs into Cyberjaya continues despite the global economic downturn. He was quoted to have said that Hewlett-Packard (HP), the world’s largest technology company headquartered in California, was keen to buy another piece of land to develop a data centre in Cyberjaya. Currently, Cyberview Sdn Bhd has developed 600,000 sq ft of office building on 28 acres (11.2 hectares) for HP.
Cyberjaya is currently home to more than 20 MNCs including Dell, Satyam, HSBC, Motorola, IBM, HP, data centres of Bank Negara Malaysia and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, universities, commercial zones and residential estates.
Within the next 10 – 15 years when it is expected to be fully developed, the city is expected to reach a population of 210,000 with business developments providing up to 120,000 employees and institutional establishments providing 30,000 students. This kind of population growth is naturally a huge magnet for the increasing number of developers beating a path there.
Cyberjaya reputedly has the best ICT infrastructure in the country, attracting many ICT entrepreneurs and technology experts, as well as captains of industry, business people and professionals who also appreciate the unspoilt lush greenery that abounds there.
Some of the world class infrastructures include:
Cyber Metro Fibre Network (CMFN)
- Fibre-optics communication backbone, known as Cyberjaya Metro Fibre Network (CMFN) delivering connectivity straight to the building
- Economical use of off-peak electricity to chill water during the night, that runs the air-conditioning in buildings during the day.
Cyberjaya Dedicated Transport System (DTS)
- Tracks buses and their routes via GPS
- Tracks passengers for better management of employees
In addition, foreign companies and local MSC-status companies get incentives such as no income tax for up to 10 years or an investment tax allowance and no duties on import of multimedia equipment. More importantly to some, there is a guarantee that there is no censorship of the Internet
Highway to Progress
The best part, and perhaps its saving grace, is the Maju Expressway (MEX) which shortens the driving distance to KL City Centre to a mere 20-min drive, even during peak hours.
Other highways that connect and serve Cyberjaya are North-South Central Link (ELITE), South Klang Valley Expressway (SKVE), KL – Seremban Highway (NS Highway), Leburaya Damansara Puchong (LDP) & B15 State Highway.
In terms of office space, Cyberview said the company was looking to develop 8.04 million sq ft by this year-end from the previous five million sq ft target due to growing demand from MNCs and MSC-Status companies, which now prefer to own rather than rent properties in Cyberjaya. With the increase in office space and population, a rise in demand for residential units is foreseen.
“Over 2,900 residential units have been completed, with another 2,300 in the pipeline, including the Garden Residence by Mah Sing Group Bhd and Symphony Hills by UEM Land Bhd,” the Cyberview GM said.
Tipping Point in Horizon
Despite these encouraging developments, the tipping point may be a few years from now, according to a prominent real estate consultant. In order to truly realize the dream of becoming the Silicon Valley of Malaysia, a lot depends on the Government Transformation Programme. “Change has to come from the Government, civil servants and politicians [and not merely from developers],” said the KL-based consultant.
Another consultant, Brian Koh, executive director of DTZ Nawawi Tie Leung Property Consultants Sdn Bhd said, “More needs to be done but this is always a chicken and egg situation. The master developer will need to attract other third party developers who can add value, in terms of different types of developments, and accelerate pace of sales – ultimately ensure that the population base can support the various facilities. More developers will mean more competition, bringing down price but this may not happen as the master developer needs to sell prices as high as they can get.
“At the moment, we are seeing more high-end developments from Mah Sing and UEM which have been well received, this implies future launches will see price increases!”
In conclusion, it can be foreseen that the price per sq ft there will see a further uptrend. With prices of properties escalating across the Klang Valley, Cyberjaya, as an alternative, might just see a revival – the sort that some developers have already anticipated. A boom-in-waiting perhaps, but one that would probably be a few years down the road.
Property Developments in Cyberjaya
EMKAY Group, MK Land Holdings Bhd and Setia Haruman Sdn Bhd
Recently completed project:
- The Domain Service Apartments @ NeoCyber and BizAvenue II, Cyberjaya
- MKN Embassy TechZone Phase 1 and NeoCyber Office Tower, Cyberjaya
Ongoing project/Upcoming projects:
- Shell Business Service Centre, the first ‘Green’ building in Cyberjaya
- MKN Embassy TechZone Phase 2 (6 office blocks), Cyberjaya
- CBD Perdana 2, 256 units of four- and five-storey shop houses with a total GDV of RM210mil.
Mah Sing Group Bhd
OSK Property (member of OSK Group)
Upcoming / future project:
- A RM300 million low-rise condominium project in Cyberjaya
Paramount Corporation Bhd
- A RM530 million high-end mixed development in Cyberjaya
S P Setia Bhd
- A high-end 156-acre gated community development Setia Eco Villa in Cyberjaya
UEM Land Bhd (member of UEM Group)
- Symphony Hills Phase 1, Cyberjaya
Upcoming / future project:
- Remaining phases of the RM1 billion high-end enclave of Symphony Hills, Cyberjaya
Suntrack Development Sdn Bhd
- Summerglades in Perdana Lakeview West, with GDV of RM115million, 137 units
- Glomac Cyberjaya retail offices
Ikhasas Sdn Bhd
- Shaftsbury Square
Located on 13-acre of freehold land, the development consists of three office tower blocks, two blocks of luxury SOHO/serviced apartments and 145 units of high-end retail shop-lots, with a GDV of RM790 million
Master Developer’s Task
Setia Haruman, as Master Developer of Cyberjaya, was entrusted with the role to plan, design and prepare the primary infrastructure for the Cyberjaya Flagship Zone (CFZ), as well as marketing and selling of land parcels and other real estate developments. To date, it has completed many projects such as the Cyberjaya City Command Centre (CCC), Cyberjaya Smart School Complex including SK Cyberjaya and SMK Cyberjaya, the Cyberjaya Police Station and most recently the new office for the IT Department Headquarters of Road Transport Department of Malaysia.
It has also launched CBD Perdana retail and shop offices as well as mansion plots for those who want their private luxury enclave within Cyberjaya.