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Saturday, August 11, 2012

TRX envisioned to be a district where ‘talent congregates and value is created’

IMAGINE heading towards a building in the city centre and already knowing exactly where the empty parking spaces are after merely punching some buttons on your smartphone.

Then when you leave, even during peak hours, imagine yourself cruising back home, sidestepping the infamous traffic jams Kuala Lumpur is inundated with, thanks to numerous exit points.

While it may seem like small comfort to some, urbanites will tell you how welcoming this development is.

And it is but a teeny-weeny part of what the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) aims to offer.

1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) chief executive officer Datuk Shahrol Halmi points out that such technology along with features such as on-site sewerage treatment plants, an air-conditioned pedestrian network and district-scale energy efficient features within the RM26bil strategic real estate development project, is set to create a benchmark for other financial districts in Kuala Lumpur.

A wide range of international restaurants, cafes, cultural and business activities, amenities and a beautiful huge park for families to enjoy complete with the best of security aim to enhance the entire experience for even the most sophisticated individual, the head honcho of 1MDB, the master developer of TRX, says.

And, the community within TRX is set to be made up of numerous nationalities.

While detractors will argue that all this sounds too good to be true and in some way the utopian picture is, Shahrol makes a point.

“We think we have to start somewhere, the risks are all there, but it is better than doing nothing,” he tells StarBizWeek in an interview.

At the risk of sounding like a commercial, he says, TRX is envisioned to be a district where “talent congregates and value is created”.

TRX which will sit on 70 acres in Jalan Tun Razak, according to preliminary plans, will comprise office buildings (48%), residence (31%), retail (10%), hospitality (10%) and institutional (1%).

A total of 26 buildings, to have green certification, are expected to sit on the site.

“The message here is that we are not limiting ourselves to financial services.

“We are open and receptive even to support services lawyers, accountants, anybody and everybody who can basically contribute to the vibrancy and diversity of the district,” he says.

The first phase of TRX comprising a mall, apartments and a hotel, is slated to open in 2016 to coincide with the completion of the first line of the country's mass rapid transit (MRT) system.

There will be four phases in total.

Thus far, there has been much interest shown in TRX from investors and companies, according to Shahrol but 1MDB is awaiting discussions with strategic investors to be completed before opening up bids for projects in the district.

Overseas models

The 1MDB team made visits to many countries before deciding to come up with a district that is “uniquely Malaysian.”

Visits were made to famous districts globally with large expatriate communities including to Roppongi, a district in Tokyo, London's Canary Wharf, Singapore's Marina Bay Financial Centre and various financial districts in Hong Kong.

“We incorporated only the best of these places because not all of their features are applicable here,” Shahrol says.

“For example, when I talk about families enjoying themselves in the park, that's not so suitable in our weather.

“But I told the team, we must make it happen, I was surprised to find out there is actually technology which enables rain-trees to be planted on top of our multi-level podiums... so when you are walking on top, the big trees in the park can shield you from the heat,” he says.

The buildings are also expected to incorporate wind-tunnel effects, so a simple breeze will be amplified for a cooling effect, Shahrol adds.

In Malaysia, TRX's closest comparisons would probably be the financial areas of Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Raja Chulan, says Shahrol but he stresses that 1MDB is not planning to pinch companies which are already located at these locations and get them to re-locate to TRX.

“It's more of who are the new players that we can entice those who would have otherwise set up their regional centres in Hong Kong or Singapore.

“Over time, the aspiration is that there's going to be a flight of quality where by then it would make so much business sense for companies to move to TRX because of all the business there.

“That will force the rest of KL to upgrade their services... remember this is a long-term plan,” he says.

By The Star

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