Green homes at edge of Ge­orge Town

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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.

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