Cover story: Paramount hopes to revitalise Klang with Berkeley Uptown

Phase 1, consisting of 241 units in Blocks B and E, will be unveiled by the end of this month

March 20, 2019: It is not an easy task to develop high-rises in Klang. The town has many old houses — the preferred type of home for the locals.

Being the former capital of Selangor, Klang is also a royal town — it houses Istana Alam Shah, the official palace of the Sultan of Selangor.

It has several historical landmarks, including the Klang Royal Town Mosque, Church of Our Lady of Lourdes and Tugu Keris. Other landmarks are Little India, Jambatan Kota, Klang Parade, GM Klang Wholesale City, Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah and the Victorian-style Klang Selatan Fire Station. It also boasts the country’s largest port — Port Klang.

Paramount Property Development Sdn Bhd is one of a handful of developers that are looking at developing high-rises in Klang. Berkeley Uptown, a RM1.3 billion freehold project in Jalan Goh Hock Huat, is Paramount Property’s second development in Klang. In the 1970s, it developed one of the earliest housing estates there — Taman Berkeley or Berkeley Garden.

Klang City Rejuvenation programme

Paramount Property CEO Beh Chun Chong tells City & Country that Berkeley Uptown will occupy two land parcels — one spanning more than 29 acres and the other, over three acres. The company bought the larger property — then a shoe factory — in 2011. The other parcel, which is a vacant lot, was purchased later.

“When we came across this [bigger] land on the market, we saw the opportunity to construct a mixed-use development. We have developed Berkeley Garden, so we know how to proceed,” says Beh.

He adds that the developer took its time to engage with the local community before launching the project, just to be sure of getting its support.

Paramount Property has roped in the Klang Chinese Chamber of Commerce and formed the Klang City Rejuvenation (KCR) committee to breathe new life into the town. The committee has appointed Think City — a city-making organisation that has revitalised George Town and Ipoh — to do the job.

“Klang was something like George Town previously, where the people worked and stayed at the same place. But most of the people have moved to newer housing areas in Bukit Tinggi and Bukit Raja. Now, only businesses remain in the town centre … it is busy during the day but deserted at night,” says Beh.

“That’s why it took us so long to get the project off the ground. We had to engage with the local community as we are building apartment blocks in the town centre. I am glad that we have the support of the state government and the local community. It is a good start.”

As one of the prime movers of the KCR project, Paramount Property has been contributing funds for programmes such as heritage tours, cultural activities and annual treasure hunts.

Beh says the Berkeley Uptown sales village occupies three acres, with several retail lots and space for arts and cultural activities. Japanese convenience store FamilyMart will be opening soon at the village.

“We are talking to some F&B (food and beverage) companies now. We plan to have the business openings in stages so that we have something new every quarter [of the year]. The retail lots are on one level, and depending on demand, we may expand to two levels,” says Beh.

“We have also set aside spaces for Malaysian artists to exhibit their works. We hope the businesses and activities will bring back the crowd. We want to play our part in the urban rejuvenation programme and to be involved in building a better community.”

Berkeley Uptown

On Paramount Property’s larger land parcel, there will be two residential precincts (Residential Plots 1 and 2), a commercial precinct (Commercial Plot 1), an education precinct and a public park. The smaller parcel will have a commercial precinct (Commercial Plot 2). Beh says the developer is looking at building a pedestrian link to connect the two areas.

“Berkeley Uptown will make Klang more vibrant with its commercial and residential components as well as an educational institution,” says Beh.

“It will offer modern living within a classic vicinity … with facilities for the young and old.”

At the 5.23-acre education precinct, there will be a Sri KDU International School, which will be operated by Paramount Education. Slated to open in 2021, the school will have 53 classrooms and 15 laboratories and capable of accommodating 1,500 students.

The public park, which will occupy about two acres, will have facilities such as gazebos, exercise stations and sitting areas.

Residential Plot 1 — also known as Uptown Residences — will comprise 736 units in three towers and three low-rise blocks on a 5.17-acre land. It will be launched in three phases within two years. Phase 1, consisting of 241 units in Blocks B and E, will be previewed by the end of this month. The built-ups of the units — a mix of serviced apartments and villas — are 859 to 1,588 sq ft.

There are also several 551 sq ft units, which have been allocated for the state’s affordable housing scheme.

Beh says the villas, located in the low-rise blocks, are designed to “bridge the gap” between high-rise buildings and landed properties. Each villa will come with three parking bays, which are located in front of it. There will be 14 low-rise units in Phase 1.

Facilities include a barbecue area, Jacuzzi, swimming pool, children’s pool, fitness station, gymnasium, reading room, multipurpose hall and children’s playground.

The prices of the units of Phase 1 (gross development value: RM115 million) start at RM433,000 or about RM500 psf. The maintenance fee and contribution to the sinking fund for the serviced apartments will be 30 sen psf per month. Beh says it is the developer’s intention to keep fees at its projects at below 30 sen psf.

“This [30 sen psf] is possible as long as we have quantity. We also have shops at some of the apartment blocks … the JMB (joint management body) can collect rent to offset the maintenance fee,” he says.

Commercial Plot 1, which will take up 3.73 acres, is expected to be launched by end of next year. It will be a mixed commercial development comprising a five-storey office block, an eight-storey office block and 26 double-storey shops.

For Residential Plot 2, which will consist of 935 serviced apartments in five blocks on 7.39 acres, the developer will gather feedback before deciding on the built-ups of the units.

Commercial Plot 2 will offer 210,000 sq ft of retail space and 280,000 sq ft of office space.

Beh expects the project to get good response due to factors such as its freehold status, amenities, design quality, brand name and pricing.

However, he says, Paramount Property is not taking chances as Berkeley Uptown is its first high-rise development in Klang. “We have appointed building architect BEP Akitek Sdn Bhd and landscape architect Praxcis Design for the job. They are award-winning companies and we hope to bring modern city living to the residents … like the kind in Mont’Kiara and Bangsar.

“We expect most of the buyers to be locals and people from the surrounding areas.

“Our mission has always been to enrich the community, provide a better living environment and be innovative. Although our brand is old, we are not outdated … we always try to introduce new things. One example is the co-working space we opened recently at The Starling mall in Petaling Jaya.”