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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Growing interest to redevelop old buildings

There is growing interest to redevelop old government buildings or land that has been left idle for sometime.

The shortage of land in good locations in the capital city has made land prices escalate manifold in the last couple of years.

The Government’s plan to sell some of its undeveloped land around Kuala Lumpur for development by the private sector has also attracted interest in land and government buildings.

This has led property companies to look for good redevelopment opportunities where land with unoccupied buildings can be given a new lease of life.

It is important to ensure complete transparency in the project awarding process for any government land project.

Redevelopment projects could run into millions of ringgit. To avoid criticism of biasness, the best approach is to invite proposals via an open tender system.

Some buildings may be severely dilapidated and may need to be completely torn down before any redevelopment work can proceed.

But there are buildings that have historical significance and it is important to ensure all efforts are expended to restore and retain their historical value.

For example, the Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTMB) headquarters located on Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin, Kuala Lumpur.

The building, which was built in 1910, is owned by the Government through the Railway Assets Corp.

Dating back to the country’s pre-independence days, the building is a national heritage and its unique architecture is a fine example of the British colonial adaptation of Moorish architecture.

But many firms have expressed interest in wanting to redevelop the KTMB building because of its prominent location and value.

Any redevelopment plans should preserve the heritage and value of the KTMB building. It may be a good idea to turn a section of the building into a railway museum.

There have also been suggestions to relocate the Sungei Besi military airport to another location and to redevelop the 459-acre site. But to-date, no details have been revealed on the redevelopment plans.

Whether government or privately owned, redevelopment can raise the value of existing land and property developments.

For redevelopment plans to succeed, developers should have the right expertise to add value to the land or property.

There should be proper planning to ensure the new project will benefit the people. It must have proper infrastructure, including new roads, to prevent traffic congestion, especially if it is a commercial project.

Safety should be a top priority in any demolition work of old buildings. Some may be high-rise buildings and this calls for extra care and planning to prevent any untoward mishaps.

There should be careful coordination among parties involved including the developers, site supervisors, contractors, workers and the local authorities.

The public and residents living around the work site should be given due notice before starting any demolition work.

As with all property projects, there should be approvals from all the relevant authorities for the new land use, and structural and layout plans. Proper cost and financial planning should be undertaken to ensure the project’s feasibility.

Deputy news editor Angie Ng hopes to see more family-oriented recreational facilities provided in new developments around the country.

By The Star

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