Sophisticated business in historical enclave


  • Business
  • Saturday, 15 Feb 2003

BY THEAN LEE CHENG

FOR decades, the Straits Trading Building, located next to the high court, was one of the most prestigious landmarks in the financial hub of Kuala Lumpur. Professional firms, the legal fraternity in particular, took to the place like bees to honey because of its proximity to the courts. 

But all good things have to come to an end, and when Malaysia's pursuit for development and newer and more sophisticated buildings took shape, the Straits Trading Building was forgotten. But only for a little while. 

Owner of The Straits Trading Co Ltd started refurbishment work in August 1999 and after having forked out RM22 million, No 2, Lebuh Pasar Besar, Kuala Lumpur has been transformed into a prestigious address complete with modern telecommunications and yet retained colonial charm. 

The space that the old China Press Building used to sit, which Straits Trading Co Ltd bought in the 1980s and which it eventually pulled down, is now a pleasant walkway with eateries. One can enjoy a cuppa away from the heat and bustle of the street. 

The walkway allows visitors from Lebuh Pasar Besar to walk right through from Lebuh Pasar Besar, past the eateries and the lobby and exit at Jalan Mahkamah. 

The Straits Trading Building is part of Kuala Lumpur's historical enclave comprising the Sultan Abdul Samad Building that houses the courts. It was refurbished at RM22 million.

“We are actually in a very enviable location,” says The Straits Trading Co Ltd manager Jimmy Quek Jin Fong. 

“We are near to both the Star and the Putra lines (Masjid Jamek station). There is a bus-stop right in front of the building. We are located in the heart of town.  

“This building has always appealed to law firms because of its proximity to the Federal courts and now the Industrial court is located right here in this building.  

“In terms of commerce and finance, there are a number of banks all within walking distance. In terms of architectural landmarks, this building is part of the city's historical enclave. Nowhere will you find such charming architectural surroundings in this central business district,” says Quek.  

Today, after a 14-month refurbishment, the building is open to tenants again. It is currently about 60 per cent occupied with most of the smaller units taken up. Its smallest unit is 371sq ft, the largest exceeding 11,000 sq ft. It has two penthouse units, one at 5,229sq ft and a smaller one at 2,962sq ft.  

The penthouse can be used for dining as kitchen facilities like ducting have already been installed. Guests can dine indoors or on the terrace.

Both come with a terrace that can be used for fine dining, Quek says. “The tenant selection for the penthouse floor is lifestyle-driven and we would like quality tenants,” he says. 

“Being the landlord, we also occupy the building, so we will always ensure it is well-maintained. However, our presence will not be obtrusive,” Quek says. 

The Straits Trading Co Ltd had, as part of its plans, wanted to turn the penthouse into a fine dining area. It has, therefore, provided kitchen ducting facilities and done up the terrace and patio areas to enable dining in-doors and out on the terrace. 

“The view from the penthouse is spectacular and parking is not a problem as there are 66 parking bays on the basement floors. 

The other options were to lease out the penthouse floor as office space or a gym.  

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