Urban renewal plan raises queries

Saroja Thevi’s late husband was among those approached by representatives of the developer.

WHEN agents for a developer came knocking on P. Kumar’s door last year with an offer that seemed too good to refuse, he immediately registered his interest.

The father of four has been living in cramped quarters for several years and wants his children to experience life in a more comfortable environment.

Kumar stays in a 520sq ft unit at the four-block Flat Sri Lempah in Kuala Lumpur.

The agent offered him a brand new unit measuring 900sq ft for free.

“They said it would come with two parking bays per flat, a swimming pool and all the facilities of a condominium in a redevelopment project that would see my block demolished and a new one built nearby.

“They even threw in RM1,000 for moving expenses.

“I am seriously considering it as I want my children to grow up in a better living environment, ” he said.

Similarly, Saroja Thevi Rajagopal said her late husband also received an offer of a free unit early last year.

“But we will have to give up our present unit in exchange for the new one.

“I am still thinking about it as I need more information on the project, and that is not available currently, ” she said.

Saroja’s daughter M. Tanu said her mother even went to the agent’s office located nearby so she could do some research on the project, but the staff could not give her any useful information.

“We are trying to get more details, ” she added.

To Kumar and Saroja, the idea of a bigger and better unit seems like a win-win proposition but they are concerned about the lack of information.

Another resident, who only wanted to be identified as Chew, said he also encountered the agent who made the same offer.

“It seemed like a good deal but I too want more details about the project, ” he added.

Those who agreed to the direct swap had been promised a new unit at a proposed 37-storey condominium nearby.

It will be built next to a plot of land near block C and D of the flats. Prime location

Flat Sri Lempah is located on Lorong Jugra, Batu 3 1/2 off Jalan Kelang Lama.

The five-storey walk-up flats have about 540 units built about 40 years ago on 10ha of leasehold land.

Blocks A and B share one master strata title while blocks C and D share another.

For the moment, the redevelopment will only involve blocks A and B.

The flats have another 59 years left on their 99-year lease.

Currently, the resale value of the flats is between RM170,000 and RM200,000 per unit.

Most of the owners do not live there anymore but have rented the units out.

The development, which is located on a hill and buffered by old trees, is located next to a Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) park.

It is just a five-minute drive to Mid Valley Megamall and borders Taman Desa.

“This is prime land, there are plenty of trees and birds, the air here is cool, ” said Chew.

Resident Marie Lee, who owns four units at Flat Sri Lempah, hopes the condominium project will take off.

“We had a meeting with the developer two years ago about the proposed redevelopment and I am interested, ” she said.

Edwin Saharudin, who lives next door to Lee, said he too had been approached by a few people.

“When I told them I was a tenant, they left.

“I have been renting here for a few years and I love it. It is so quiet and convenient, ” he said.

Noodle seller Ah Keong, who runs a stall near Flat Sri Lempah and whose family has four units there, is willing to hand over his old units in exchange for new ones.

“I came to live here in 1984.

“The facilities have aged a lot and there are many problems with the old pipes and wiring system.

“There is also the problem of water ponding.

“It is time for a change, ” he said, adding that he felt the offered deal was a good one.

“But old folks are wary about signing away their deeds, ” said Ah Keong, who claimed to know the developer and vouched for the company.

The four blocks of flats are managed by Sri Lempah Management Corporation (MC).

When contacted, Sri Lempah MC I & II chairman Chong Kam Cheng said he was aware that agents had directly approached residents about the redevelopment.

“We have had several parties who have been interested in redeveloping the flats in the past, and some have even conducted surveys, ” said Chong, who believes the flats are ripe for an en bloc sale.

For the latest project, the developer approached the MC two years ago and said they wanted to redevelop the flats.

“We wrote back saying that there were procedures that needed to be followed according to the Strata Management Act 2018.

“We advised them to meet us, discuss the redevelopment plans and do a formal presentation first.

“After the meeting, it felt like they were not keen for us to be involved, ” said Chong, adding that he wanted the issue to be dealt with in a transparent manner through the MC rather than have agents approach residents directly.

Timely redevelopment

Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Mahadi Che Ngah said DBKL encouraged the redevelopment of old flats in the city, especially ones where the units were small and dilapidated.

The local authority is working with the Federal Territories Ministry under its “Kuala Lumpur Urban Renewal” plan on this.

“We encourage it, especially for older strata properties and the Federal Territories Ministry is introducing incentives for residents.

“It is being done in several areas where there is public housing, ’’ said Mahadi.

He said there was demand for affordable housing in the city as the population was increasing.

“But we have limited space to build new housing units, especially in prime areas.

“So this is where redevelopment or regeneration comes in.

“Through redevelopment, they get a new unit and at the same time, more can buy units there at an affordable price; it is win-win for everyone, ” he elaborated.

Asked if he had been approached by anyone regarding the Flat Sri Lempah redevelopment, Mahadi said: “No, I have not been approached by anyone nor have we received any proposal for the redevelopment.

“But I am aware of the old flats in the area and it is time that they be redeveloped, ’’ he added.

StarMetro contacted a representative from the company that had been engaging residents on the proposed redevelopment, but they declined to comment.

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