The Butterfly of Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia SME, September 21, 2013

By Mak Kum Shi

There is something miraculous about nature, when we see an egg evolving into a caterpillar, and when it is fully grown undergoing a transformation from a chrysalis into a butterfly. This is what Sentul has become, from an egg into a beautiful butterfly, and it has been transformed into an attractive destination for businesses that want to be established in Kuala Lumpur.

Sentul was founded in the late 1800s when the first Malayan railway line opened between Taiping and Port Weld, which gradually expanded to connect the North and South of Malaya. The town claimed the honour of establishing Sentul Works, one of the finest integrated engineering railway workshops in the country in the early 1900s. This development helped to elevate Sentul’s prominence and grew its community.

Sentul’s decline into a run-down aging district of Kuala Lumpur in the 1960s was the result of diminishing economic and social dependence on the railway line.

Executive Director of YTL Land & Development Berhad Dato’ Yeoh Seok Kian shared that in the past, Sentul suffered from a negative image of old dilapidated buildings, a large squatter population, high-crime rates and gangsterism.

Yeoh said, “We saw Sentul’s potential instead, and built on its strengths, such as its prime and strategic location, (which was) only 5km from the heart of Kuala Lumpur.”

“(Sentul has) a rich heritage. It had a decades-old history that grew from a railway community into a microcosm of Malaysian living, humming with vibrancy, colours, and urban texture.”

Yeoh had also shared that Sentul has the strengths in accessibility, railway infrastructure, and its green elements. It had three train stations that served the area, which is one KTM and two LRT stations. There were also expansions and improvements in road and rail travel. There was a 9-hole golf course which provided the backdrop for a green lung in the KL City, which subsequently transformed into a private gated park under the new Sentul Masterplan.

The transformation of a natural masterpiece Yeoh shared that a new masterplan was conceived by YTL after the acquisition of the Sentul development from Taiping Consolidated Berhad to incorporate current urban planning requirements and address market conditions and opportunities.

The new masterplan signalled an urban renewal for Sentul and to act as a visual reference point for its 294-acre freehold land.

Yeoh shared, “The urban renewal exercise was designed to revitalise and regenerate this historical part of the city.

YTL’s vision for Sentul was more than just its physical renewal. The masterplan featured a holistic outlook, which meant the renewal of its community, their access to local services, their relationship with the area, and the people whom they live and work with. The vision, to be realised in phases, will see Sentul transformed into a vibrant centre comprising a mixed development of 7,000 residential units, commercial office and retail outlets that one can work, play, and live in.”
“The emergence of a new Sentul today was made possible by pioneering high standards of urban architecture and design complemented by lifestyle luxuries, and improving its existing infrastructure without sacrificing its identity and character, or its heritage and landscape.” Yeoh added that the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC) and YTL Communications Centre are positive signs of adaptive reuse of old railway depots, instead of demolition and rebuilding.

Yeoh commented that YTL properties have redefined the benchmark of property values in Sentul. These properties have registered strong interest in today’s secondary market. Prices of condominium units at The Maple in Sentul West have breached the RM1 million threshold, compared to the launch price averaging at RM400,000 in 2003. Similarly, prices of boutique offices at d6 and d7 in Sentul East had appreciated by about 70% since completion.

“Today, YTL’s iconic residential developments like The Capers and The Fennel in Sentul East are commanding prices in the range of RM700-RM1,000 per square foot.

The overwhelming sell-out response to our new projects in Sentul is testament to the acceptance of the refreshed Sentul as the new hotspot in KL city,” Yeoh shared.

In recognition of the successful implementation of the Sentul Masterplan in the rejuvenation of Sentul and its contribution to the community, the masterplan was honoured as the Best Masterplan Development by FIABCI-Malaysia in the Malaysia Property Awards 2007, and Runner-up in the FIABCI-International Prix D’Excellence Awards in 2008 in the Master Plan Category.

Unparalleled accessibility and connectivity Sentul today is easily accessible via the KTM Komuter and LRT train lines. Both the Sentul KTM and Sentul LRT stations are nestled strategically in the heart of Sentul East.

Sentul is also seamlessly linked to the rest of the Klang Valley via the Duta-Segambut Highway, Damansara-Ulu Kelang Expressway (DUKE), and the Sentul Link.

Sentul East is also an area that has been earmarked as a hotspot to benefit from the Klang Valley Mass Rail Transit (KVMRT) project. It is speculated that the Circle Line will pass through Sentul East.

Yeoh said, “The Sentul development is supported by a ready network of rail infrastructure which offers excellent accessibility and convenient commuting for the community. The investment committed on extension of the rail services will also yield a higher level of mobility, communication and connectivity to meet the anticipated increase in demand for inter-urban travel by a new generation of transit riders.

“Future enhancements such as the MRT will definitely be a boon for Sentul, which is poised to receive the MRT line. And if Sentul’s rail infrastructure can be integrated with the MRT line, this will be a welcome move as it not only increases accessibility but also offers a wholesome commuting experience for residents,” Yeoh shared.

He added, “The proposed MRT lines have had a positive impact on the property market and properties in the vicinity of MRT stations are already commanding higher prices.”

Sentul, though only 5-km or a mere 10-minute drive from KL City Centre, is visually very exciting, almost in all respects. The charm and rusticity of this historic railway town are nowhere to be seen in other parts of the city, but were sensitively picked up by the planners.

Sentul today At the heart of Sentul is the Sentul Park, Malaysia’s first-ever private gated park, which has the sophistication to match London’s Hyde Park or New York’s Central Park.

The town is suffused with the dynamism of new contemporary architecture. Seasoned railway workshops sit majestically among new neighbours, such as robust engineering structures, and iconic state-of-the-art sky-piercing towers. Looking up, there is a new skyline befitting the new Sentul address.

Yeoh said, “Having established Sentul as a new urban address for residents, we look forward to growing the commercial aspect of Sentul, starting with our first commercial projects in Sentul East, the d6 and d7 pair.

“Set to invigorate Sentul by infusing a new vibrancy into an area treasured for its rich historical background and business heritage, d6 and d7 in Sentul East (both award-winning projects) are sited on prime commercial locations with the Jalan Sentul frontage and connectivity in every sense of the word,” Yeoh shared.

Yeoh concluded, “d6 and d7 present an unmatched opportunity for businesses to participate in a brand new landmark commercial development in the heart of Sentul. Our tenants profile features a highly discerning group of people, such as architects, designers and lawyers who have embraced the Sentul address as a modern vibrant place, and who recognise the need to be in tune with future trends by choosing an architecturally iconic office space, rather than the traditional office shop lot.”

Given the development and transformation that Sentul has undergone, business owners should seriously consider establishing their businesses in Sentul because it has the perfect blend of a strategic location, modern infrastructure, excellent accessibility and connectivity, brilliant architecture and landscaping, rising investment value, as well as the reliability of the YTL brand.