Thursday, July 27, 2017

Thanlyin Star City project takes shape

Workers build the seventh floor of Thanlyin Star City’s first building last month. Stuart Deed / The Myanmar TimesWorkers build the seventh floor of Thanlyin Star City’s first building last month. Stuart Deed / The Myanmar Times

Marketing brochures are not usually known for their pessimism but perhaps the developers of Thanlyin Star City are being overly cautious when they say it’s a 35-minute drive from the site to the middle of downtown.

On a recent visit to the site it took 20 minutes from the front gate of the development, near the Yangon-Thanlyin Bridge, to The Myanmar Times office on Bo Aung Kyaw Street in Kyauktada township. Three small caveats should be provided: it was 5pm and the drive was against traffic, Bo Aung Kyaw is not quite the heart of downtown and the car was a late model Jeep in excellent condition.

First Myanmar Investment (FMI) and Serge Pun and Associates (SPA), developers of FMI Housing Pun Hlaing Golf Estate in Hlaing Tharyar township, have aimed to provide a growing middle class with a different type of accommodation with the Star City development.

“We are pitching Star City at the middle- to higher-level income bracket in Myanmar and believe we are achieving that aim quite effectively,” said Ko Soe Thiha Hlaing, director of sales and marketing for SPA.

The price of a one-bedroom studio apartment starts at about K38.5 million, while a top-of-the-line four bedroom duplex is K130 million. If you want one with a view directly across the Bago River to Yangon and Shwedagon Pagoda – gloriously unimpeded by trees or other buildings – and the price is slightly higher.

The buildings themselves will be built in a three-cornered star shape and house a total of 150 units. Each building will contain a mix of apartments ranging from one-bedroom studios up to four-bedroom duplexes.

For consumers used to “hall type” apartments devoid of partitions, the development is sure to come as a pleasant surprise. Even the smallest one-bedroom apartments, which have a snug 622 square feet of space, have adequate room for a kitchen, dining room and living area. At the other end of the spectrum are the four-bedroom duplexes that could comfortably house a family. The duplex apartments are also on the top level of the buildings and will enjoy a better view over the surrounding area.

The structure of the first building at time of writing was finished up to the seventh floor but had almost completely sold out well in advance.

Work on the foundation for the second building has just started but sales have already opened, no doubt assisted by a grand opening and exhibition in front of Grand Mee Ya-Hta on November 26. There, visitors were treated to scale models of the Star City project as well as computer-generated visualisations of the site and virtual walkthroughs of the different types of apartments.

Judging by the number of people clamouring around the viewing screens on the night it would be hard not to judge the event a success.

“We are delighted at the turnout and the positive interest we received for the opening of the exhibition,” Ko Soe Thiha Hlaing said.

“At the same time we are also keenly aware that this is just the start of an exciting process of designing, developing and marketing what is in fact a small model city,” he said.

Ko Soe Thiha Hlaing added that more than 60 units, or more than 30 percent of those available, have been sold in building number two since November 24.

In keeping with the target market, FMI/SPA have promised that ferry buses to downtown will be made available to take people to work in the morning and bring them back in the afternoon. Perhaps more excitingly, the company is negotiating with the government to provide a river ferry option that would bypass Yangon’s roads altogether.

As well as the competitive prices, Thanlyin Star City will have space outside the buildings for recreation and leisure, while there will be retail space for shopping available in the ground floors of the buildings.

What the brochure and plans are unable to adequately convey is the scene itself, which is quiet in comparison to most other residential apartment complexes in Yangon, where noise is a constant companion.

The advertising brochure might be pessimistic in estimating travel times but if the rest of the development goes as planned, Thanlyin Star City might well be “a model community of tomorrow”, just like it says on the front cover.