Kota Kinabalu: The prestigious RM1.2 billion KK Times Square, to be developed in two phases over 23 acres of prime reclaimed land along the Coastal Highway here, is poised to be a shopping paradise, entertainment hub and leisure centre, not just for locals but also for tourists.
For Phase One - KK Times Square Signature Offices - an eight-acre commercial development of 12 blocks of five, six and eight -storey shop offices with a total floor space of 645,238 square feet, earthworks began more than a week ago following approval of the Development Plan, Building Plan and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The mammoth project with a total sales value of RM168 million is expected to be launched next month to mark the start of construction. It is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2007.
Phase Two with an area of 15 acres is earmarked for the development of a shopping complex, a 5-Star hotel, serviced departments and two office towers. Its total sales value is over RM900 million.
Based on a market study conducted by Syarikat Kapasi Sdn Bhd, the landowner and developer, what is lacking in the State capital is a huge shopping centre that can meet the varied needs of tourists. There is also a 'vacuum' in terms of nightlife.
Thus, Asian Pac Holdings Berhad, the parent company of Syarikat Kapasi, came up with a concept and design, similar to that of the Phileo Damansara commercial centre in Petaling Jaya. They coined it KK Times Square dubbed 'The New Excitement Along The Coastal Highway'.
Syarikat Kapasi Senior Manager (Sales & Marketing), Matthew H.S. Ng said Wednesday, tourists are disappointed that nothing much is going on in the shopping centres here, and that the suburban area of Luyang is more active and vibrant than KK City itself.
"That must change..KK has the potential to grow. We understand that the strategy of the Sabah Government is eco-tourism. We are here to complement the efforts of the Sabah Tourism Board in terms of tourism activities, and not to go against that," he told a press conference at the company's KK Office at Plaza Tanjung Aru.
At the Preview Launch of Phase One - KK Times Square Signature Offices -Ng dispelled reporters' doubts over the viability of the project.
"So far, we have generated sales to the tune of RM75 million. Very soon we are going to conclude more deals.
"We have sold 40 per cent of the total units on an en bloc basis. All our five-storey shop offices facing the coastal highway have been snapped up."
However, he said buyers can later dispose of them on a strata basis.
According to him, purchasers comprise prominent KK businessmen, a developer, an architectural firm and politicians.
"We are also making inroads in Sarawak and Brunei. We are going to promote KK Times Square in other major towns like Tawau and Lahad Datu."
Ng said there are excellent prospects for capital appreciation as KK Times Square is the first of its kind in Kota Kinabalu.
"There is excellent value for money as property prices range from only RM590 per square foot for a ground floor shop and from only RM200 per square foot for an office suite unit.
"After completion, the price for the office suit unit may soar up to RM270 per square foot."
Answering a question on current space glut, Ng said the company was not concerned over the increasing number of retail outlets in Kota Kinabalu "because KK Times Square is a different type of property with modernised and specialised shop offices."
Construction of Phase One, he added, does not require bridging loans as it is internally funded by the company.
To another question, he said before we talk about people's purchasing power, we must have suitable businesses for the tourists.
"Big shopping centres must have a good content of retail shops, and food and beverage outlets. Tourist groups come here for eco-tourism and other specific reasons."
On claims of low purchasing power, Ng countered that quality retailers from West Malaysia will be encouraged to expand their businesses here and thereby create job opportunities.
"This will improve the socio-economic status of Sabah people. You need business to come first. There is a market here."
Asked why the shopping centre in Phase Two is not for sale, Ng explained: "We are not selling any of our retail spaces. We are retaining ownership and management of the building.
"We noticed that KK does not have a single big entity that is a market leader. Ownerships of shopping centres here have been transferred to individual owners."
Citing the KLCC and Mid Valley in Kuala Lumpur, he said their owners retain ownership and control over tenancy.
His plan is to get a company that runs a major shopping centre in KL to get their tenants to take up tenancy at KK Times Square through business expansion to Sabah. "We are confident of bringing them over here...the retailers move like a flock or herd."
On why the company is confident of success, Ng listed out the selling-point of KK Times Square as its strategic location (served by the 4-lane Coastal Highway) and close proximity to KK City Centre.
"We are in the heart of the city and overlooking the Sutera Harbour Resort. Every tourist who comes to KK must pass this area.
"With such a big piece of land in such a prime location, it is imperative that we make the first phase successful. That will affect Phase Two commercial development," he added.
"We may be a little bit pricey but success is assured. Our features are far superior."
Earlier, in his presentation of the project, Syarikat Kapasi General Manager, Calvin Low said the developer expects to do well in Sabah "given its good property development track record in Kuala Lumpur, especially in the Klang Valley."
"We have proven formulasÉwe are established and have a strong management team." He said it is the right time as evidenced by increased international tourist arrivals in Sabah, and Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) being the second busiest airport in the region.
Low observed that it is difficult to find good retail shops on the ground floor in Kota Kinabalu.
Asked whether a 'white elephant' would be created, he said: "It is not likely at KK Times Square. We are also mindful of the risk of overbuilding on our own plot of land."
Courtesy of Daily Express