Rudijanto, Contributor, Jakarta
Four years ago, Yulian Fulani had to make a difficult choice between purchasing a three-story house-office inside the Grand Mal Bekasi complex in Bekasi for Rp 300 million and a far more expensive three-story house-office in Perkantoran Bukit Gading Indah in Kelapa Gading, Jakarta.
Now, he thanks his intuition for having opted to buy an office for his medium-sized company in Perkantoran Bukit Gading Indah as he can reach his office in less than 10 minutes from his residence near Kelapa Gading's North Jakarta International School.
Living and working in the same area constitutes a dream of many Jakartans who are forced to spend hours to reach their workplace. No wonder North Jakarta's Kelapa Gading has been able to attract many people to reside there as it offers both homes and places to work.
Kelapa Gading's main developer PT Summarecon Agung Tbk (Summarecon) claims that one of its missions is precisely to encourage and support the growth of entrepreneurship in its development areas, namely Kelapa Gading and Summarecon Serpong.
No wonder that in the 1980s, the company encouraged entrepreneurs in the restaurant sector in Jakarta's Pecenongan area to develop businesses in Kelapa Gading by providing restaurant space and financial incentives. More than 20 years later, many of those entrepreneurs own most of the most well-known restaurants in Kelapa Gading.
Kelapa Gading has changed the lives and fortunes of many people. Even the residents have witnessed the unbelievable doubling, and in some cases tripling, of the value of their homes along with the rapid development of Kelapa Gading.
Originating from a swampy area that was avoided by all people decades ago, Kelapa Gading has rapidly developed into one of Jakarta's prestigious upper-middle and upper-class residential areas.
The high purchasing power of its people has made the area boom with various facilities, including offices, shop-houses, restaurants, banks, hospitals, private national and international schools as well as Karaoke centers, hotels and apartments.
Indeed, Kelapa Gading's residents have just about everything within reach. Like Yulian, some of them do not need to go out of Kelapa Gading to work. In other words, Kelapa Gading has developed into a self-contained city, or a city within a city.
Besides being both a residential and commercial area, Summarecon is developing Kelapa Gading into a tourist destination, particularly for tourists who want to go shopping in Jakarta. That is why Summarecon has organized the annual Jakarta Fashion & Food Festival (JFFF) since 2004.
""After three years, JFFF has developed to become an annual event that supports and enriches the 'Enjoy Jakarta' campaign,"" said Summarecon managing director Liliawati Rahardjo.
Though being hit by the great flood in 2002 that inundated most of Jakarta, Kelapa Gading continues to grow and attract not only residents and businesspeople but also tourists from all over the world.
""In the future, Kelapa Gading will develop further because the land area to be developed is still big, stretching between Tanjung Priok to Pulo Gadung,"" says Suwandy, management advisor of Paladian Park Apartment in Kelapa Gading's Bukit Gading Raya.
With this optimism on the continuous growth of Kelapa Gading, Paladian Park's developer PT PP (Persero) dared to take over the apartment project, the construction of which was halted by the monetary crisis in 1998. Paladian Park consists of seven towers with a total 1,489 apartments.
However, it is not only Perkasa Abadi that has grabbed the opportunity to invest in the apartment sector, other developers are building apartments in Kelapa Gading, too.
Summarecon is currently developing The Summit Apartment on 2.5 hectares of land adjacent to Mall Kelapa Gading.
Consisting of two 24-floor towers, namely Everest and Alpen, The Summit has a total of 386 units and finished the topping off in April. Summarecon expects to hand over the apartments in February of next year.
The presence of several apartment projects in Kelapa Gading, including Paladian Park, The Summit, Gading Mediterania and Kelapa Gading Square, has created tough competition among developers. No wonder each developer has its own program to attract buyers, including a cash back guarantee by PT PP (Persero) and a rental guarantee for two years with an investment return of 20 percent by Summarecon.
""Under the cash back program, when buyers buy one of our apartments, we allocate funds to an insurance company to manage the funds. After 20 years, the insurance company will pay back 100 percent of the price to the buyers,"" says Suwandy of Paladian Park.
Various incentives by developers show that Kelapa Gading has become an arena for competition among big developers as well as the hottest opportunity for would-be buyers and investors in apartments, landed houses, shop-houses and offices.
Interest in buying or owning apartments, houses, shop-houses and offices remains high as Kelapa Gading is evolving into one of Jakarta's biggest commercial areas and shopping destinations. Traffic congestion in the area confirms this.
""Every noon and afternoon, the road in front of this office is always congested. Traffic has worsened,"" Anthon Suriadi, not his real name, grumbles as he serves customers at the Adam Air ticketing office on Jl. Boulevard Raya.
Suriadi may grumble at the worsening traffic but Adam Air has certainly chosen a prime location for its marketing office as Suriadi reveals that his office often runs out of tickets as the area is really good for business.
""Yes, traffic jams often take place in Kelapa Gading. But it only shows that this place is a good location for business. Tanah Abang has traffic jams and so does Glodok, and we all know those areas are good for business,"" says Suwandy of Paladian Park.
Traffic jams are also caused by the many cars parked outside restaurants along Jl. Boulevard Raya. Aware of the potential of the restaurant business in Kelapa Gading, Summarecon has opened another strip of restaurants along the side of a river along Jl. Bukit Raya.
Called Gading Batavia, the strip of restaurants, designed in an architecture that resembles old Chinese shop-houses in Jakarta's Chinatown, it has attracted lots of food entrepreneurs.
""We have 109 shop-houses, of which 55 have been sold and 54 are leased. We aren't selling the 54 units because we want to keep maintaining this area. If we sold all of them, we could no longer have any control over this place,"" says Ali Akbar, tenants relations manager of Gading Batavia.
Populated by around 132,000 people in over 30,000 households, Kelapa Gading is rapidly growing into a one-stop-living complex consisting of residential, commercial as well as entertainment and social facilities. Not only Indonesians, mainly Chinese-Indonesians, reside in the area but so do a number of expatriates from Korea, India and the Philippines.
Kelapa Gading continues to grow. As the developer and the government of Jakarta want the area to be developed into a major shopping destination for both domestic as well as foreign tourists, the proper handling of traffic as well as flood control management should take place. After all, no tourist wants to spend hours in traffic jams or trapped in floodwaters.