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Friday May 1, 2009

Abandoned Plaza Rakyat project stands out like a sore thumb in city

THE Plaza Rakyat project in Kuala Lumpur was launched at about the same time that the Suria KLCC was being built in the mid-90s.

However, while the iconic twin towers stand majestically tall today, the Plaza Rakyat project has been left uncompleted and stands like a sore thumb at the busy Pudu area.

While many of the buyers have now given up hope on the RM1.4bil project after waiting for almost 15 years, some are still keeping the fingers crossed, hoping that it could be revived as they had invested heavily in it.

Retiree Steven Yong, 65, said when the Plaza Rakyat project was launched in 1996, he paid a substantial amount in downpayment for two shop lots of different sizes, one on the first floor and another on the fourth floor, both costing a total of nearly RM600,000.

“During that time, there was a huge publicity about the prestigious project and it was very promising. It had a sense of security and modernity to it, and it sounded like a real good investment,” Yong said.

Stalled: The long-halted Plaza Rakyat project in the city centre.

“My late wife, who was running a hair salon at the Central Market bought a unit with the intention of moving her business into the Plaza Rakyat. But my wife didn’t live to see her dream come true as, even till today, the project has yet to be completed,” he said.

“Now my son Will has taken over the salon, which is still at Central Market, and we are hoping that the Plaza Rakyat project will be revived,” Yong said.

He said the developer had promised to complete the building in three or four years at the time of purchase but till today, despite various promises, the project was still stalled.

“In 2005, the project developer was asked by the then Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Zulhasnan Rafique to provide a timetable of its work schedule till completion, but till now, there is no sign of any progress,” he said.

According to Yong, there are about 200 buyers who are in such a dilemma like him.

“The first floor of the building is completed before work was halted. I am still servicing the bank loan interest for my first floor unit although I am paying nothing for the fourth floor unit,” he said.

The Plaza Rakyat project, developed by Wembley Industries Hol-dings Bhd, is on 6.322 million sq ft of land leased from the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) for 88 years.

The first phase comprises a retail shopping plaza with a million sq ft of net letable area, a 223-unit 41-storey condominium block, a central terminus for the Light Rail Rapid Transit system (LRT), long haul buses and outstation taxis, and a 150-room tourist class hotel.

The second phase comprises a 72-storey office tower with a million sq ft of letable space and a 19-storey 480-room 4-star hotel, originally scheduled for completion in 1998.

However, work on the project was stopped after the developer landed into a financial crisis.

But there may be hope yet as the developer has been given three months to come up with a plan to revive the project.

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