When fortune favours the brave: Alfa Romeo distributor ventures into property

Despite Covid-19-related uncertainty, Seltra plans to launch 2 skyscrapers in Kuala Lumpur via subsidiary

An artist's impression of the Alfa Bangsar residence and commercial mixed development project. – File pic, October 3, 2021

KUALA LUMPUR – The sole distributor of Alfa Romeo cars is turning its attention to the property market with its subsidiary Sri Seltra Sdn Bhd planning to launch two new skyscrapers here.

Just like the reputation of Alfa Romeo’s sporty design vehicles, Seltra has decided on being bold and boisterous despite national economic uncertainty due to the paralysing effects of Covid-19.

Seltra chief executive Terence Chia said both projects are part of Seltra’s parent company City Motor Group’s (CMG) expansion into the high-end property segment and the hospitality industry.

“Our commitment and confidence (in the move) are (based on) well-calculated risks underpinned by the company’s strong fundamentals. We are poised to seize the opportunity as the economy is expected to rebound soon,” he said in an interview.

Seltra’s commitment is also expected to have a telling effect on the property market, as it sends a confidence boost to both home-buyers and investors alike.

Both projects are mixed development concepts comprising upscale hotels, luxurious serviced apartments and commercial offices with wellness hubs, while attention would also be given to the need to build under the endemic phase of Covid-19.

Chia foresees the developer making exceptions to its designs to bear in mind the dire consequences of Covid-19, hence more physical space and more healthcare amenities.

Seltra chief executive Terence Chia says the Alfa Bangsar and Bukit Bintang Gateway projects will represent Seltra's strong entry into the high-end property market. – File pic, October 3, 2021

The Alfa Bangsar project in the chic Bangsar enclave represents the group’s signature entry into the luxury market.

It promises to set a benchmark in higher property valuation of the affluent neighbourhood noted as a vibrant entertaining and food haven.

Chia said that the Alfa Bangsar was named after the group’s two-decade involvement as the sole distributor of Alfa Romeo cars that ended in 2020.

“We are currently halfway through construction and looking at a mid-2023 completion.

“We are confident of completing it on time even with the constraints caused by the current movement control order,” he said.

Chia said the Alfa Bangsar serviced apartments with RM450 million in gross development value (GDV) are modest in floor size but exude luxury and afford creature comforts to its owners.

The project, he said, is a short walk to Bangsar Village, food haven and entertainment hub where owners will be spoilt for choice for places in which to dine and hang out.

“KL Sentral, the transportation hub, is a hop away from the nearby Bangsar LRT station and that’s where you can take a fast 28-minute ERL train to KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport),” he said.

Another project is the Bukit Bintang Gateway, which Seltra is hoping to start next year after it receives approval from the Kuala Lumpur City Hall.

“This is another mixed development in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Like Alfa Bangsar, the Bukit Bintang Gateway is on freehold land and is by far a bigger project; both in scale and GDV. It will comprise a five-star hotel and residential and commercial blocks.

“We will start work on our Bukit Bintang site early next year. It is a massive project on its own consisting of 500 hotel rooms that will propel the corporate brand name of CMG as a top player: going by the sheer size of the total number of rooms and lettable floor space in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur.

“This future project will have a RM1.5 billion in GDV and be the home of high-net-worth owners with 318 units of serviced apartments and 69 serviced suites. It is located within walking distance between two MRT stations along the popular Bintang Walk promenade,” said Chia.

Both these two projects form part of the group’s long-term plan to make inroads into the hospitality industry.

“We plan to grow our real estate’s recurring income as a sustainable revenue stream that will run parallel with the future growth potential of our property development business,” said Chia.

In the early 1980s, the group was looking to diversify out of the automobile sector it was involved in for about two decades as the Alfa Romeo marque’s top Asian seller.

It was around that time that Chia acquired a minority share in the company – Sri Seltra Sdn Bhd – which he considered a wise decision because of the landbank it owned in Ampang.

Within a few years, he took control of the whole company and over the intervening four decades, grew it into what it is today.

The government has also come out with helpful policies such as cheaper housing loans under the Home Ownership Campaign, Chia noted.

“Buyers will enjoy more than 10% in savings from price discounts and exempted stamp duties,” he said.

Over the decades, CMG has built its name as an established developer and to date completed landed properties, township, condominiums, and commercial offices totalling over RM600 million in GDV. – The Vibes, October 3, 2021

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