Vivekananda trustees object to preservation of building

The century old Vivekananda Ashram is surrounded by modern skyscrapers in Brickfields.

The Vivekananda Ashram board of trustees have said no for the second time to the government’s proposal to turn the 110-year-old building into a national heritage site.

Without approval from the board, the government cannot automatically gazette the old building a heritage site.

Following the disagreement, the National Heritage Commission spokesman said there is a need to hold a hearing to decide the future of the premise.

He said the trustees had sent a letter on Wednesday, a day before the government’s notice expired, to reject the move.

The government through the commission had notified Vivekananda Ashram to designate the place as a heritage site under Section 27 (2) of the National Heritage Act 2005 on Jan 14. The notice expired on Thursday.

Vivekananda Ashram at Jalan Tun Sambanthan in Brickfields was earmarked for major redevelopment that will see a 23-storey residential tower with 264 units and an eight-storey car park built at the site.

Star Metro had reported the ashram chairman Tan Sri Dr K. Ampikaipakan said they had approved the decision to develop the 0.4ha plot of land in a joint-venture with developer F3 Capital.

The trustees had previously tried to sell the land - the first time about 25 years ago, with another attempt 10 years ago for RM15mil. The then project had been aborted after public protests.

After unprecedented protests from the community, Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz through Heritage Commissioner Dr Zainah Ibrahim, served notice to Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and the Vivekananda Ashram trustees on Nov 12 of the government’s intention.

To-date, more than 100,000 signatures have been collected to oppose the redevelopment of the ashram.

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