Green homes at edge of George Town
IT was the 1930s and the coconut oil business in Penang was booming.
Well-known self-made tycoon Yeap Chor Ee sensed the potential and bought over an oil factory at the mouth of Sungai Pinang and installed modern machinery.
Soon, backed by a 350-horsepower Deutz diesel engine, the Ban Hin Lee Oil Mill – taking up almost 2ha of land – was up and running, churning out coconut oil from the Yeap family’s own plantations that stretched from Sungai Nibong to Bayan Lepas.
But by the 1970s, the state’s booming human potential and the industrialisation of Penang under then-Chief Minister Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu would greatly change the destiny of the oil mill.
“Coconut oil started to fall out of fashion, replaced by palm oil.
“The state also started to acquire our plantation land to build the Free Trade Zone and the runway for the Penang airport so eventually, we converted the oil mill into warehouses in the 1970s,” says a Heng Lee Group director and one of Chor Ee’s grandsons, Yeap Leong Soon.
For the next 20 years until the turn of the century, around 10 warehouses on the site would be used for the storage and movement of an array of goods from bathtubs and tantalum to small boats to rice.
Leong Soon says that for a time, the space was also used as a bus depot and the mooring site for orange Water Witch workboats that clearing the water of debris.
“The warehouses were producing income so we wanted to develop the area.We came up with a mixed development project.”
Living in the City
With 403 apartments designed within unique, twin U-shaped blocks, the Sandilands project in Jalan C.Y. Choy, Jelutong, was launched in 2012 by Heng Lee Group subsidiary BHL Waterfront.
Priced between RM513 per sq ft to RM741 per sq ft, the units proved attractive, with 70% snapped up during the soft launch and 85% purchased to date.
All remaining apartments are executive units measuring more than 2,000sq ft.
Leong Soon says that construction of the 39-storey apartment blocks is nearing completion with a handover date in February next year.
A commercial block with a builtup area of 40,526 sq ft located in front of the apartment blocks along Jalan C.Y. Choy is also being constructed.
It will be launched at the end of this year.
Units are available in nine parcels of four-storey blocks, priced between RM3.2mil and RM5.7mil.
As for the purchasers of the Sandilands apartments, Leong Soon is pleased to say that the overwhelming majority are Malaysians, with Penangites making up over 85% of buyers.
“A lot of the buyers are originally from the area as well as quite a number from Gelugor and Bayan Baru.
“The price range offered and the location are what makes Sandilands so attractive to those who are now working in the Free Industrial Zone,” Leong Soon says.
Leaving a Smaller Carbon Footprint
But Sandilands is more than just the latest in Penang island’s long list of upcoming developments.
In many ways, it has become the standard bearer for green living, achieving a provisional gold Green Building Index rating.
“We will probably be the first apartment building in Penang to receive the gold rating. To qualify for this, you need to score points in specific areas,” Leong Soon says, adding that the accreditation would be confirmed once construction is completed and an inspection done.
First off, he explains, the twin structure faces north and south to avoid receiving the full glare of the rising and setting sun.
“The sun is, more or less, always traversing overhead so it will not be too hot indoors. The windows facing the east and west have special glass with low emissions to block out more of the rays,” he says.
On top of that, each apartment is designed like a semi-detached living area in the sky with none of the units sharing a common wall.
“This double U-shaped design was chosen to optimise the circulation of air and sunlight around each unit.
‘It’s a very expensive design to build but it will ultimately benefit each occupant with savings through lower air-conditioning and electricity usage,” Leong Soon says.
He adds that increased roof insulation has been incorporated to reduce heat and improve overall sound insulation.
Vertical gardens have also been planted to hang down the podium car parks where there are two charging stations available for electric cars.
Rainwater collection is part of the landscaping and recyclable material from construction work is stored for future use.
“As for paints, we use nonvolatile paint in the interior of the buildings to reduce toxicity and improve the quality of the indoor environment. Breathable paints are used on the exterior to reduce efflorescence or trapped moisture on the walls,” Leong Soon adds.
Location, Location, Location
In terms of location, the development scored full marks in its GBI rating for nearby services and amenities.
“Within a one-kilometre radius, there are shops, medical centres, markets, workshops, galleries, transportation services, eateries and schools. Just about everything is a stone’s throw away and people will be able to get what they need without having to drive,” Leong Soon says.
The whole apartment complex is also bordered by the state bicycle lane that runs across Sungai Pinang, and BHL Waterfront has designed an extra bicycle path to link Sandilands up with this.
Additionally, the developer is upgrading a small strip of state land that separates Sandilands from the river.
“We are putting in walking paths and trees by the riverside on behalf of the state government.
“We also have a small pier behind Sandilands that was originally used to unload copra (dried coconut flesh) for the oil mill.
“We will continue to maintain this jetty licence for future potential,” Leong Soon says, citing the example of the water taxi proposal that has been discussed in recent years.
Sandilands is also located at the threshold of the inner city's booming arts scene.
The Macallum area, located just down the road, has been earmarked as the state's proposed arts district and was already a site for performances and events of the recent George Town Festival.
“The local arts scene is exploding in the area. You've got the Hin Bus Depot there, street art and certain areas being gentrified by investors. The whole area is becoming very interesting,” Leong Soon says.
All in all, he adds, locals can hardly do better when seeking homes near town with outstanding connectivity to the Free Industrial Zone and the southern parts of the island.
“Technically, Jalan C.Y. Choy is the beginning of Jalan Pantai so we are right at the edge of town.
“We are near the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway and are 15 minutes from the airport.
“On one side, we have an unobstructed view of Komtar and almost the whole of the city.
On the other side, we see old George Town and the Penang Bridge.”
For more information on Sandilands, visit www.sandilands. com.my.
The article is republished with permission from Penang Monthly.
Heng Lee Group’s newest development Sandilands promises to become a premier location for work and play. (Bottom) The pool and greenery will add to the tranquil ambience of Sandilands.