Penang has one of the fastest growing property markets in the northern region of Peninsular Malaysia due to myriad factors. It is one of the most developed states in the country with strong infrastructure, it’s a booming tourist destination and it offers a high standard of living.
However, in Penang Island, elevated prices and rapid urbanisation in recent years have driven investors’ interest to the mainland. With growing demand for properties that offer affordability, accessibility and an enhanced living experience, Penang mainland is primed as the next property hot spot.
When it comes to delivering integrated townships with well-established residential and commercial projects in Penang, one name stands out from the rest: Sunway Property.
Having made its first foray into the Penang property market more than two decades ago, Sunway Property, a division of Sunway Bhd, is still going strong with a string of new and ongoing developments under its belt. Like many of the group’s successful township developments in Sunway City in the Klang Valley, Sunway City Ipoh and Sunway Iskandar in Johor, Sunway Property draws from its expertise in the build-own-operate (BOO) business model to cater to the needs of current and future buyers in Penang.
“What buyers want is a property that has it all. We are bringing the best of the integrated community concept to Penang that allows our community the convenience to live, learn, work and play in a healthy, safe and well-connected environment,” says Sarena Cheah, managing director of Sunway’s property development division for Malaysia and Singapore.
With approximately 196 acres of undeveloped land bank in Penang, Sunway Property is in the midst of rolling out the master plans for the integrated developments of Sunway Wellesley Precinct III in Bukit Mertajam and Sunway Valley City in Paya Terubong in the near future.
In the meantime, Penangites can look forward to the facelift of Sunway Carnival Mall in Seberang Jaya, which will undergo a three-phase transformation comprising a shopping mall extension, a refurbishment exercise and the development of a 10-storey office block. This undertaking by Sunway REIT spans over 12.33 acres with 1.5 million sq ft of gross floor area for working and shopping and will also accommodate bowling alleys and additional food and beverage outlets within the suburban family mall.
Sunway Property also seeks to recreate the success of Sunway Medical Centre in the Klang Valley with the upcoming development of Sunway Medical Seberang Jaya in 3Q2017. With an investment of RM260 million, it will be the group’s inaugural healthcare facility in the northern region and will consist of a nine-storey building with 290,000 sq ft of gross floor area upon its completion in 2Q2020.
Concurrently, Sunway Property is set to capture the growing medical tourism market in Seberang Jaya with a new hotel to complement the existing Sunway Hotel Seberang Jaya, which will also undergo a full refurbishment exercise. An investment of RM100 million will be injected into the development to include a facilities floor as well as to upgrade a wide range of facilities and amenities.
Cheah observes, “The medical centre will benefit the communities in Penang as well as those from the nearby states. With the hotel and mall located adjacent to the medical centre to provide connected conveniences, it will definitely help in promoting medical tourism in Penang.”
In the face of the property market’s current cooling period, the group is determined to bring the best qualities of the Sunway City concept to create a competitive edge and boost market interest. This includes providing a more connected community lifestyle for Penangites with a variety of property, retail, hospitality, education and medical components which complement one another.
“The volume and value of transactions of residential property are still on a declining trend at a rate of 13% and 16%, respectively for 1H2016 in Penang,” Cheah points out, adding that transaction for commercial properties have taken a nosedive with a drop of 37% and 59% in volume and value. “Having said that, the increase in existing housing supply hasn’t quite kept up with the increase in the number of households in Penang, which implies that there is not yet an oversupply situation.”
Sunway Property has begun to pave the way with new projects to fill the void for quality homes in Penang. The group has zeroed in on Seberang Perai as the next development hot spot in the next few years due to its strategic location and accessibility. “Sunway is working to augment what it has to support Seberang Perai’s inevitable growth in line with the state government’s ambition to develop it into a new tourism and investment destination by 2018,” offers Cheah.
As it gears up for the future, Sunway Property is sanguine about future prospects in the Penang property market. Cheah foresees that the substantial investments into infrastructure from the Penang Transport Master Plan, which includes five connection points between the island and the mainland, and the development of Penang Sentral, a transportation hub in Butterworth, will bode well for the economy and the increase of population in the state.
At the same time, the channelling of foreign investments in transforming Batu Kawan into an industrial base and education cluster with retail and recreational attractions as well as housing developments further helps to drive the property market in the mainland.
For now, Sunway Property has various measures put in place to ensure the group remains resilient in any economic climate as it pursues future ventures in Penang.
Like the refurbishment exercise of Sunway Carnival Mall and Sunway Hotel Seberang Jaya, asset enhancements will also be a key focus as the group rejuvenates its completed township developments in Penang. “Due to the strategic location of our existing townships, we see it as a good opportunity for investors to ride the upside once the location is rejuvenated,” Cheah explains.
“At the end of the day, the value and quality of living in Malaysia is still attractive and our property sector does still appeal to the foreign market with a low entry cost contributed by the weakening of the ringgit,” she adds. With a firm believe that there are still ample opportunities in Penang’s property development landscape, Sunway Property looks set on taking a no-holds-barred approach to cement its reputation as a leading developer in the northern region in the foreseeable future. - The Edge Property