D'Piazza Mall in Bayan Baru

Penang developer Seraimas Bina Group's (SBG) first project, D'Piazza Mall in Bayan Baru in Penang, will be officially launched in January.

D'Piazza Mall sits on an 8.5-acre freehold tract which was acquired in 2005 at a cost of RM30 million. The mall, comprising 90 units of 3-storey shops, 21 units of 1-storey shops and 62 bazaar lots, has a total built-up of 525,000 sq ft. The developer says the 3-storey intermediate units range from RM860,000 to RM980,000 and 99% of the units have been sold.

"Only one corner unit is available. Most of our buyers are food & beverage (F&B) operators, professional groups and local investors. Currently, the intermediate units are getting offers in the secondary market in the range of RM1.3 million," SBG managing director Dr Basir Ahmad Pier Mohd tells City & Country. Rental rates for D'Piazza Mall, he adds, is RM5 psf for the ground floor.

SBG started as a contractor in 1992 and completed over RM600 million worth of projects before moving into property development in 2005. The developer has launched three projects so far with a total gross development value (GDV) of RM270 million. Adjacent to D'Piazza Mall is the RM180 million D'Piazza Condominium which was launched last year, while Taman Central Park in Butterworth, with a GDV of RM60 million, was launched last February.

Taman Central Park is a mixed housing development of 305 residential units and, according to the developer, has seen a take-up rate of 60%. Expected to be completed by early 2010, the development consists of 154 units of 2 and 2½-storey terraced houses, 100 apartments and 54 units of low-cost apartments. Terraced houses have built-ups from 1,600 sq ft to 2,600 sq ft and are tagged from RM255,000 to RM500,000, apartments are 750 sq ft and priced at RM90,000, while the low-cost apartments are 650 sq ft.

X-Scan Penang Sdn Bhd (X-Scan) was set up to develop D'Piazza Mall and D'Piazza Condominium which is 4km from the airport and less than eight minutes drive to Penang Bridge.

Basir, who is also X-Scan managing director, says the original major shareholder of X-Scan was involved in supplying X-ray scanners for airports before it decided to sell the project to Seraimas Bina Group.

Raine & Horne International Zaki & Partners Sdn Bhd director Mike Geh tells City & Country that D'Piazza Mall is strategically located facing Jalan Mahsuri. "Bayan Baru is a growing area, and therefore makes it an attractive location. There are still a lot of land available there," he adds.

"This mall is a fusion of various features of shopping and entertainment outlets. Basically, the design incorporates a Spanish/Moorish feature, with a large single main atrium of 30,000 sq ft," says Basir, adding that the design allows the entertainment and food outlets to operate on a 24-hour basis while the shopping complex itself will close at 10pm.

He says the mall is not designed for an anchor tenant but the atrium, which is larger than the plinth of the Penang International Sports Arena (Pisa), will be able to host various exhibitions and this will be the main attraction of the mall.

Basir also says that only 30% to 40% of the outlets are expected to be retail in nature: "This is a lifestyle mall as most of the outlets would be F&B premises and general service outlets such as pharmacy, medical and dental practices, insurance and direct selling."

Some of the upcoming outlets, he adds, include Pelita Nasi Kandar, Promtip Thai Restaurant, several Chinese restaurants, Amway outlet, Body Glove, pharmacy and a general sporting store to be operated by a famous national athlete.

As for the D'Piazza condominium, the developer expects its completion by 2Q2009. The condominium consists of 706 units with built-ups of 1,100 to 1,300 sq ft and it is adjacent to D'Piazza Mall. "We have received tremendous response from young professional buyers, with 90% of the units already sold," says Basir, adding that the buyers are mainly local professionals in their late twenties and early thirties who are working for multinational companies in the Bayan Lepas Industrial Estate.

Asked about the current retail market and property scenario on the island, Basir says: "Presently, there is a downward bias in the retail market in Penang but it should pick up in 2Q2009. The property market is also experiencing a substantial slowdown due to negative consumer sentiment resulting from high inflationary pressures during 2008. This trend will continue until 2010.

Going forward, the developer also expects to commence construction of the new Penang Customs headquarters in Seberang Jaya, under the design-and-build concept, in 1Q2009. On whether the company will be looking at other states for future developments, Basir says: "We intend to concentrate on the Penang market before moving to other states."

By Rosalynn Poh (The Edge Daily)

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