Back then, who knew? In 2008, like its close neighbours Kuchai Lama and Salak South, Sungei Besi still carried the connotations of a boondocks. But even then, word that the RMAF Sungei Besi Air Base would be sold had already made the rounds. Plans were afoot, Watson! Grand plans that would dwarf all before it: Bandar Malaysia, Tun Razak Exchange and 1MDB would make sensational headlines and Sungei Besi will probably be transformed out of all recognition by this mother of all property plays.
In May 2008, perhaps with an ear to the ground, YTL Land & Development Berhad launched its Midfields condominium, part of a mixed-use development on a 23-acre leasehold land parcel near Taman Sungei Besi. All but 10 or so of the 308 units of the first block (Block A) sold out over a weekend. The starting price was RM200,000 for units with a built-up area of between 1,042 and 2,116 sq ft.
In December 2009, Block B, also comprising 308 units, was 80% taken up by the end of launch day. The 2 and 3-bed units had a starting price of RM270,000, with views of the city skyline,pool or park.
Midfields Square came next in April the next year: two blocks of 20 units shop offices with a built-up area of between 3,586 sq ft and 8,454 sq ft with dual frontages, starting at RM1.9 mil. By this time, Blocks A, B and C had been fully taken up. The timing was deliberate, to ensure a large enough market for Midfields Square besides the wider Sungei Besi population.
However, in order to maintain the quality of Midfields’ surroundings and facilities, developer had also taken the opportunity to build one instead of two towers for Block C, significantly reducing the density of the development.
In its place is a tropical park that helps to moderate the microclimate of the development. Features include what is called a “rainforest pool” in a shady garden, “outdoor lawn sofas and island retreats”, and a stream that wends its way around the landscaped area. While this is the sort of language used to devastating effect in developers’ brochures, the design and quality of this developer’s creative landscaping and facilities show the descriptions to be accurate and useful ones.
Moral of the story? For owner occupiers or newbie investors, there is wisdom in following the plans of developers with a good track record of design, delivery and property management skills – and who know how to pick a location with upside. While Midfields wasn’t perfect from the start, residents say the developer’s team was proactive in working with them to find solutions.
This sort of commitment to a good working relationship even withstood the accidental discovery of drug lab in one of the penthouses two years ago. (The chemicals used to process the drugs had set off the (well-maintained) fire alarm, quickly followed by the fire brigade and police.) For cultural anthropologists, these interesting meetings between new arrivals to a locality and their existing dwellers would be par for the gentrification course.
And so it has proved. In April 2014, Midfields 2 was launched, and 80% or 650 out of the 792 condominium units in three tower blocks were taken up at the sales preview. Prices started at RM499,000, and in the queue before the sales gallery had opened were “mostly first-time buyers from a young demographic profile,” says the developer.
Amenities? Mid Valley, KLCC, the new Kuala Lumpur-SIngapore High Speed Rail station to be completed around 2020 in Sungei Besi. Etc.