Australia’s Lendlease set to unveil showcase Tun Razak Exchange project

  • Business
  • Monday, 27 Mar 2017

Artist's impression of The Exchange TRX

SYDNEY: Australia’s property group Lendlease, which was the first company to tie up with 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) to develop the 70-acre Tun Razak Exchange (TRX), is finally ready to unveil its showcase project in the development.

The company which first signed an agreement in June 2014 to develop a retail mall, hotels and residential towers on a 17-acre site in TRX called the TRX Lifestyle Quarter, said that the project would be unveiled in the second half of this year.

This will be followed by the launch of two of the six residential towers in the first half of 2018. At present, Lendlease has already completed excavation of earth to make way for the basement levels of the four-storey retail mall, which will be known as The Exchange TRX.

Scheduled for completion by 2020, the Sydney-headquartered property and infrastructure group says, The Exchange TRX will feature 500 retail lots with a net lettable area of 1.35 million sq ft and about 3,000 parking spaces. According to Lendlease CEO Asia Tony Lombardo, the development of the retail mall was being prioritised because it would be the key component of the TRX Lifestyle Quarter and upon which a luxury hotel would be built. “Our first priority is to get the retail mall up and ready, as it is the cornerstone of the project,” Lombardo said.

“With our agreements (with TRX City) having gone unconditional, we can drive the progress of the TRX Lifestyle Quarter project,” he told reporters at a briefing during a recent media familiarisation trip to Lendlease’s urban regeneration projects here.

Lendlease firmed up its joint-venture agreements with TRX City Sdn Bhd for the development of the project turned unconditional last week. TRX City was previously known as 1MDB Real Estate Sdn Bhd, the property arm of 1MDB.

Lendlease is biggest joint venture partner to develop TRX. However other developers such as the Mulia Group of Indonesia has already started work on their development.

The Mulia Group is developing the 92-storey office block in TRX.

The TRX Lifestyle Quarter is one of 12 large-scale urban regeneration projects that Lendlease is currently undertaking in major cities around the world.

Comprising a retail mall, six residential towers, a luxury hotel and a park, the 17-acre mixed-use project will be developed in stages through a joint venture with Lendlease owning 60% and TRX City – which is an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of the Minister of Finance Inc Malaysia (MoF) - owning 40% of the partnership.

Lendlease will also be the development and construction manager for the TRX Lifestyle Quarter project that comes with an estimated gross development value of RM8bil.

The development of the project is expected to be financed through a combination of equity and debt. According to Lombardo, Lendlease has the financial strength to undertake urban regeneration projects, including the TRX Lifestyle Quarter, given its ample liquidity and relatively low gearing of 5%.

Meanwhile, TRX Lifestyle Quarter managing director Stuart Mendel revealed about 25% of the floor area at The Exchange TRX had already been pre-leased to at least three anchor tenants, including Japanese departmental store Seibu.

“We will launch The Exchange TRX in the second half of this year. By then, we will be able to announce some of the early tenants,” Mendel said.

“So far, we have secured 25% of net lettable area with tenants that offer new-to-market brands and concepts departmental store, as well as cinema and supermarket,” he told reporters at the same briefing here.

As for the residential component in TRX Lifestyle Quarter, which will be known as the TRX Residences, completion will be in phases from 2021 onwards.

The six 40- to 57-storey residential towers is expected to house a total of 2,400 units, offering what Mendel said “a broad range of options” that would appeal to both international and local buyers.

According to Mendel, the types of apartments at the TRX Residences would range from studio and one-bedroom to four-bedroom units, with sizes possibly ranging from 500 sq ft to 2,000 sq ft.

He, however, said it was still early days to determine the selling prices of the units at TRX Residences.

As for the luxury hotel, which forms the third component of the TRX Lifestyle Quarter, Lendlease says the group intends to find an external operator with a strong brand to manage.

“We want to look for the best in class (to be the operator of the hotel),” Lombardo said.

He, however, maintained that the group was not in a hurry to find an external operator and or co-investor for the hotel project of the TRX Lifestyle Quarter.

TRX City, whose ownership has since been transferred to MoF, is the master developer of the 70-acre TRX. The development, which is located on a prime tract between Jalan Tun Razak and Jalan Bukit Bintang, is to set to become a new financial hub in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. It is a project identified by the Government’s Economic Transformation Programme to be a catalyst for urban regeneration in Kuala Lumpur.

On its part, TRX City had allocated about RM3bil for infrastructure works on the development to enhance its connectivity, sustainability and security.

According to TRX City chief executive office Datuk Azmar Talib, the company had already awarded RM1bil worth of jobs, including road improvements and tunnelling projects, to date. The remaining RM2bil worth of infrastructure jobs would be awarded in phases to meet the project’s targeted completion by 2020.

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