27 June 2014

New firm to revive Plaza Rakyat

  27 June 2014

KUALA LUMPUR: The revival of the abandoned Plaza Rakyat project in Jalan Pudu here is headed the way of controversy, with the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) looking to appoint a new company to undertake the job.

Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Phesal Talib revealed yesterday that DBKL did not recognise the appointment of Ivory Properties Group Bhd to revive the project.

On the other hand, Ivory, which had won the rights to revive the project after a tender exercise conducted by Plaza Rakyat Sdn Bhd (PRSB) in September last year, has not given up on undertaking the job.

Under the agreement, PRSB would transfer the existing sub-lease and all development rights under the joint-venture agreement with DBKL to a subsidiary of Ivory.

Ahmad Phesal told StarBiz that he was awaiting the completion of the arbitration between DBKL and PRSB to appoint the new company. He, however, declined to name it.

“DBKL, together with the Federal Territories Ministry, has decided that some other company should take over the redevelopment of Plaza Rakyat and not Ivory. We were not involved in the appointment of Ivory for this project (initially),” he said yesterday.

“As far as we are concerned, DBKL cannot just agree to the appointment of Ivory by PRSB to take over the project. We have our own plans,” Ahmad Phesal added.

As early as September last year, DBKL had denied media reports that it had entered into negotiations with Ivory to take over the development of the Plaza Rakyat project.

DBKL said it had terminated its joint venture with PRSB in April 2010, and that the latter had no legal standing to enter into any pact with any third party.

However, Ivory is keen to be party to the revival of the project.

In an interview with StarBiz, Ivory chief executive officer Datuk Low Eng Hock said the company was keen to meet up with DBKL and the mayor on the acquisition and rehabilitation agreement (ARA) for the project.

Low said early this week that the group was open to including new counter-offers from DBKL in its package that would provide a win-win solution for all the stakeholders of the project.

“We hope to meet up with DBKL soon to inform them about the details of our ARA with PRSB,” Low said.

Ivory wants to develop it into a mixed-development project comprising a shopping mall, serviced residences and hotels at a gross development value (GDV) of RM8bil.

“Plaza Rakyat will be enhanced with the introduction of new building components to maximise the potential of the land.

“On top of new serviced residence towers, the affordable component introduced will establish a community of young working adults, making it possible for them to afford a home located at the convenience of a city centre,” Low added.

Ivory is currently working with PR1MA Corp Malaysia to come up with 1,000 affordable housing units for Plaza Rakyat, according to Low.

The group has put up a fair and attractive package for DBKL and PRSB, the original developer of the scheme, Low added.

Whether or not Ivory would get its proposal heard by DBKL is not clear, given the fact that DBKL has its own plans for the revival of Plaza Rakyat.

The story of Plaza Rakyat dates back to 1993 when PRSB, which was then controlled by Tan Sri Ting Pek Khiing’s Wembley Industries Holdings Bhd, had ambitious plans to develop it into a mixed-development project comprising a shopping mall, serviced apartments, a hotel and office towers. The project was supposed to have a GDV of RM1.3bil.

However, the Asian financial crisis of 1997-1998 forced the developers to abandon the project, although the foundations and a six-storey basement carpark was completed. Subsequently, PRSB went into receivership and came under the administration of a consortium of lender banks.

~ By THE STAR

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