Curated conveniences for the community

WINNER | D’Network @ Setia Eco Park | S P Setia Bhd

Nestled within the exclusive residential enclave of Setia Eco Park in Shah Alam, D’Network is a hybrid solar-powered F&B-focused retail hub that made its debut at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. Sitting on a land area of 3.61 acres, the community lifestyle commercial offering also features a pet-friendly park, a lake and the Symphony of Sustainability musical fountain, the Summer Garden, and a pétanque facility.

S P Setia Bhd chief operating officer Datuk Zaini Yusoff says, “We took a bold move to launch D’Network during the pandemic [specifically on Sept 16 and in conjunction with Malaysia Day] because we knew the local community needed a place that caters to their everyday needs as well as a space to connect, commune and rediscover their bond with nature.”

Zaini (centre) with (from left) The Edge Malaysia editor-in-chief Kathy Fong, editor emeritus Au Foong Yee, The Edge Media Group publisher and group CEO Datuk Ho Kay Tat and City & Country editor E Jacqui Chan (Picture by Mohd Izwan Mohd Nazam/The Edge)

We knew the local community needed a place that caters to their everyday needs as well as a space to connect, commune and rediscover their bond with nature.” — Zaini (right) with Ong

As part of the Setia Eco Park master plan ecosystem, D’Network is designed to seamlessly integrate with the adjacent lake, with more than 50% of the total land area allocated for green spaces. This includes a Feel the Earth lawn for people to practise grounding, or walking barefoot on grass or earth, while enjoying the cooler temperature of Setia Eco Park as it is situated next to the Bukit Cerakah Forest Reserve, Zaini highlights.

The 791-acre Setia Eco Park development is a joint venture between S P Setia, the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Great Eastern Life Assurance (M) Bhd, and comprises only freehold semi-detached houses and bungalows.

With a lettable floor area of 86,323.63 sq ft, D’Network has 17 units in total, of which 10 are F&B outlets and seven are for services. An additional 10 retail units are being developed and will be launched in December, owing to increasing demand for a variety of F&B outlets at the retail hub.

“We are very excited about the latest development as this would allow us to widen the F&B offerings at our retail hub to ensure we are able to meet the expectations of our customers. This expansion was also in response to the community’s feedback for more variety in cuisines at D’Network,” says Zaini.

“We are also very proud to say that D’Network is the world’s first hybrid solar-powered F&B-focused retail hub,” he adds.

For its commitment to meeting the community’s expectations, D’Network was awarded The Edge Malaysia Property Development Excellence Award 2023 for Excellence in Township Community Hub.

The 3.61-acre hybrid solar-powered F&B-focused retail hub has a net lettable area of 86,323.63 sq ft and 518 photovoltaic panels installed on its rooftop - Pictures by S P Setia

Important to be different

As a small-scale retail hub, D’Network’s strategy is to create a niche market with unique tenants to drive footfall, says Setia Eco Park general manager Desmond Ong. “With the big boys in surrounding areas like Setia City Mall, Setia Taipan 1 and 2, and Sunsuria Forum, we needed to carve out a niche for ourselves as the go-to place for the local residents to enjoy convenience and a spot of relaxation. This strategy has helped us build a loyal customer base.

“In fact, Garden Grocer, which is the anchor tenant occupying 13,000 sq ft, is very different from other popular grocers in the Klang Valley like Jaya Grocer. What’s unique about this grocer is that it has its own traditional Chinese medicine and herbs hall and offers very fresh seafood from Sekinchan,” he shares.

Other notable tenants at D’Network include San Francisco Coffee, The Grange restaurant and bar, Grand Ya Lim seafood restaurant, Sushi Hana and Hikari Japanese restaurants, Mr Fish seafood noodle restaurant, Bo The Avocado smoothie café, YE Boulangerie & Patisserie bakery, R.E.A.L Kids preschool and Dr Ko skin and aesthetic clinic.

While attracting tenants to D’Network was challenging at the start, Ong says this is no longer the case. “Now, instead of us going to look for tenants, the tenants would come look for us. So, we have to be more selective and ensure that the tenants we select won’t compete with the existing tenants.”

According to Ong, the second-term tenancy renewal at D’Network was recently completed with a healthy 20% reversion rate that is in line with the market. “This is something that we are very pleased with as it means our tenants are enjoying growing and sustainable sales to be able to commit to the rent increment. It is very important to us that this community hub can continue to flourish.”

He adds that the rents for the additional 10 soon-to-open retail lots will be at least 30% higher than the current rate. “The new lots will command a higher rental because the demand is there and they will predominantly be F&B.”

The retail hub’s Feel the Earth lawn for people to practise grounding

In addition to the immediate Setia Eco Park community, D’Network also attracts visitors from the mature Setia Alam township nearby as well as from the wider Shah Alam and Klang areas.

It’s important to be niche and different, says Zaini. “Furthermore, the ambience at D’Network is totally different with its low-density, open-air concept that offers natural ventilation, better air quality and al fresco dining. It’s a good place for families.” He notes that D’Network currently enjoys an average footfall of about 20,000 monthly.

In line with its community building initiatives and to further boost the overall footfall of D’Network, the team continues to organise community events.

“We do a lot of community events, especially during all the major festive seasons in Malaysia, namely Chinese New Year, Hari Raya and Deepavali. We have also had live bands, workshops for children, cultural dances and community activities, which have received a lot of good response from the community as well as outside Setia Eco Park. We have also had Mercedes and BMW do car roadshows here, which have attracted a good crowd,” says Ong.

D’Network is designed to seamlessly integrate with the adjacent lake, with more than 50% of the total land area allocated for green spaces

“In fact, D’Network’s Aurora Night event in particular attracted a footfall of about 1,000 that night and it was standing room only. This type of event helps bring people to D’Network and once they have visited, they will come again.”

Meanwhile, a neighbourhood retail such as D’Network is especially helpful during the lockdowns imposed during the pandemic. “When people needed something that was within the allowed radius, they didn’t have to really go out to look for it. Plus, D’Network’s car park is very near the shops and grocer, so they can just park, grab and go,” says Ong.

D’Network has boosted the developer’s property sales, Ong adds. “During D’Network’s official launch on Sept 16, 2020, we locked in RM50 million in property sales on the day itself. This goes to show that nowadays, when people look for a place to stay, they want the facilities and convenience in terms of retail and services, especially F&B.”

Currently, Setia Eco Park is around 70% to 80% developed and has a resident population of about 8,000.

D’Network’s Summer Garden (left) and pet-friendly park (above) - Pictures by Sam Fong/The Edge

Sustainable feats

According to Zaini, D’Network has 518 photovoltaic panels installed on its rooftop, generating 345kWp of solar power that complements the traditional electricity grid supply. “Of this sustainable energy, 207kWp is dedicated to powering D’Network’s common areas, corridor lighting and fans, and the Symphony of Sustainability — the world’s first solar-powered musical fountain which charges up during the day and illuminates at night. This solar power also supplies energy to the Summer Garden, the pétanque court, the playground and the pet-friendly park. Last checked, we can save about RM4,000 a month in electricity consumption from using solar power,” he adds.

Meanwhile, the remaining 138kWp of solar power generated at D’Network is used to power Elizabeth Falls, a water feature nearby. “The English-inspired waterfall is the world’s first solar-powered hybrid waterfall,” says Zaini.

Another sustainable initiative at D’Network is food waste processing. “We have a food waste composting machine that recycles food waste from the F&B outlets and converts it into fertiliser that is used for the Summer Garden and all the landscape,” he adds.

In terms of building materials, Zaini highlights that approximately 45% of the materials used in the construction of D’Network were obtained from sustainable sources. “As an example, fair faced bricks were utilised due to their capacity to limit heat transfer from the external environment into the building, consequently reducing the need for air conditioning. The use of fair faced bricks also eliminates the necessity for plaster and paint, thereby reducing long-term maintenance as the building matures.”

In terms of future plans for D’Network, Zaini says there is limited space for future expansion after the 10 new retail lots are completed by the end of the year. “The only available commercial parcel left is our Setia Eco Park sales office, which is around six acres, which can be redeveloped after we complete the entire Setia Eco Park development and the rest of the staff are transferred to our corporate headquarters nearby.

“Nonetheless, if it [becomes too big], the ambience won’t be there any more. So, we will have to keep the balance in terms of size and its purpose as a neighbourhood mall.”