What are the hallmarks of a neighborhood of choice?
In the last issue, we entertained the notion that a good location needs to be re-defined in more micro terms given the abundance of choice, with many equally appealing options competing for your chequebook.
I said that contextually at least, the term ‘location’ has evolved to ‘location within the location’, with micro-components such as the appeal of specific streets, neighboring developments, amenities and infrastructure development and a sound development concept underlining an area’s potential.
People often say that there will never be another Mont’ Kiara. We often hear stories of how investors ‘missed the boat’ on once cheap and easily attainable properties in prime locations like Bangsar or Mont’ Kiara but they didn’t start out like that and there was a time when Mont’ Kiara was considered a location to avoid! Even today, some fears of congestion and oversupply linger and it was once a location that was rife with over-speculation and inflated prices.
These cautionary tales have spurred many to speculate on which area would become ‘the next Mont’ Kiara’ but what of Mont’ Kiara itself? Today, with the availability of reasonably-priced homes in the secondary market and as we kick-start the first of our location focus articles, it seems apt that we explore and showcase just what exemplifies a consistently great location over the years by looking at the top suburbs of Mont’ Kiara, Sri Hartamas and Dutamas.
Will there ever be another Mont’ Kiara?
The trio of neighborhoods comprising Mont’ Kiara, Sri Hartamas and Dutamas is one of the most affluent in Kuala Lumpur with a balance of luxury, comfort and affordability and the all-important aspirational appeal that breeds desirability. This location thrives with diverse lifestyle, entertainment, recreational and communal amenities that are undisputedly among the best the Klang Valley has to offer.
The spotlight on this neighborhood comes amidst sprawling major development and price increases in surrounding suburbs due to the scarcity of development land in this area after over a decade of sustained growth and as the location matures. Other emerging townships have also grown and prospered, swaying many an investor.
1 Proximity to Central Business District
Mont’ Kiara is strategically located within 8km to the Kuala Lumpur City Centre. Distance to KLCC will always be a good yardstick to potential growth prospects as the city offers the most square feet of office space and directly influences encroaching development and population shifts and flows.
The Kuala Lumpur business district recently took a major shift southwards towards KL Sentral, Mid Valley City, Bangsar South and the upcoming Damansara City. This region now caters to a strong business population with many local and foreign MNCs represented in this expanded central business district.
Mont’ Kiara’s proximity to this expanded business district is even closer at between a mere 5 to 7km away and this along with the linkages to the nearby affluent and evergreen neighborhoods of Kenny Hills, Damansara Heights and Bangsar makes this a neighborhood in demand both now and in the future.
2 Population Balance
Traditionally, this area can attribute much of its early growth to the high influx of foreign expatriates but today, the neighborhood has a very balanced population of local and foreign expatriates and this makes it a location diverse in culture as well as in demographics. It truly exemplifies the modern integrated Malaysian neighborhood.
It can be considered one of the few choice neighborhoods with an appeal that transcends cultures and ethnicity. There is also a luxury Malay reserve land development by the Impiana Group at Sri Hartamas while the adjacent area attracts both local Malaysians and expatriates from countries around the globe.
Besides the ethnic and national diversity that these locations offer, there is now a good balance in terms of affordable and luxury developments that makes it a really self-contained neighborhood with sustainable appeal that will continue from generation to generation.
This is enhanced further with potential development land at the Dutamas locality – otherwise known as Segambut – where new homes emphasizing comfort and affordable pricing are being built while the established areas of Mont’ Kiara, Sri Hartamas and Desa Sri Hartamas provide contemporary living in landed properties and condominiums that address all market segments from integrated development studio apartments to very high-end luxury homes such as the Kiara Hills bungalows.
3 An Educational Hub
Naturally, with a sizable and diverse international community, the area is also home to many international schools, including Garden International School, the Mont’ Kiara International School and the French International School.
The many local national and Chinese schools and colleges such as Taylor’s University make this neighborhood one of the only suburbs to have such rich diversity in educational options.
4 Lifestyle and Recreation
Mont’ Kiara is a melting pot of cultures in more ways than one and this is personified by the countless food outlets catering to every culture and the emergence of Desa Sri Hartamas, Solaris Mont’ Kiara and Publika into F&B and entertainment havens which cater not only to the population here but to patrons from all over the Klang Valley. The area is also home to prestigious clubs such as the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club and the Bukit Kiara Equestrian Club as well as the Bukit Kiara Recreational Park.
5 Upcoming developments that will catalyze continued growth
Besides the sprawling Governmental and judiciary establishments already there and the numerous commercial and residential developments in progress, the upcoming KL Metropolis project, a mega development project that will bring direct economic activity to the neighborhood and the highly-anticipated MRT Circle Line will spur growth and interest in the area to new levels.
Crucially, a key reason why this neighborhood remains in the spotlight of developers and investors alike is due to:
a. A surge in development in the other parts of Klang Valley has narrowed down the pricing gap in this suburb, making prices here undervalued in relative terms to other areas as prices have stabilized and good value can be found in the secondary market;
b. The area was once driven by speculative investors who thronged the neighborhood when the pace of building here outpaced demand but today, the speculative play has shifted elsewhere and ‘real’ sustained demand provides many opportunities and good value;
c. Today, we see the market stabilizing but a potential new development cycle will return to this area to spur new growth due to the reasons above and as investors re-focus on established, mature areas with strong fundamental appeal and attractive relative value.
In conclusion, Mont’ Kiara is a shining example of a great location but it did not always start out that way. Rather, it fulfilled its massive potential over a period of time and with careful planning and the right development mix. The rise of Mont’ Kiara didn’t happen overnight and there are many reasons why it succeeded but the simplest measure of its appeal is simply that everyone wants to be there and if they couldn’t, they would surely like to be.
With a combination of a good development mix and choice, diverse population, industry-leading amenities, attractive pricing and sustainable appeal through the generations, Mont’ Kiara remains a fantastic consideration for the savvy investor. Where else in the Klang Valley can you find such a cohesive combination of location, balance, development mix and pricing that appeals from generation to generation?
Article is written by Christopher Lim, Co-Founder and Senior Vice President of Property Hub Sdn Bhd, MIEA Residential Agency of the Year 2012 and 2013. Log on to www.propertyhub.com.my for more information. The article represents his personal views.