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Abandoned project set to be revived

06/03/2009 The Star  By CHARLES FERNANDEZ

WHEN former students of the Convent Seremban see pictures of the abandoned site where their school once stood, they cannot help but feel sad.

They have fond memories of the school and although some have claimed that its location in the centre of town worsened the traffic problems in the area, they find it difficult to imagine that conditions could be any better, once a shopping mall is built there.

To those who passed through the corridors of the school during their formative years, it was a significant landmark in the town.

“All of us (I think) were angry and disappointed with the decision to relocate the school and rename it. It would have been nice if the building – or, at least, the field – were still there, just like KL having its VI,” former student Ilya Mohammad wrote in an e-mail message.

She lamented that she could only tell her children, stories of her time in the school whenever she passed by the site, which had now turned into a huge “pool”.

The “pool” is soon to be developed into a shopping complex by CSB Holdings Sdn Bhd (CSBHSB), a subsidiary of MUI Properties Berhad.

Word is that construction is expected to start sometime this year, but the question on everyone’s mind is: will the project even take off?

The project in Jalan Datuk Bandar Tunggal was abandoned in 1997 due to the economic downturn then, and there are fears that history will repeat itself in light of a similar scenario looming.

According to Seremban Municipal Council (MPS) president Datuk Abd Halim Abd Latiff, the developer had already submitted its amended plans for the project.

“The proposed plan during the previous economic crisis was a shopping complex with an office tower; this has now been scaled down to a five-storey podium block,” Halim said.

He said many parties were interested in developing the area but were unable to, due to funding problems, but hoped the project would become a reality this time around, especially with Seremban gearing towards city status in 2010.

The state government, then under former Mentri Besar Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad, had even pledged to provide any form of assistance necessary to developers, including looking for anchor tenants when the project was completed.

The project is one of the five abandoned projects in Seremban.

“We are also trying to get in touch with the other developers but there has not been any breakthrough,” he said.

Halim said letters, e-mails and telephone calls to the respective developers went unanswered.

If the MPS is serious about Seremban attaining city status, it will need to address many issues, including making sure that the other abandoned projects get off the ground.

One of the other projects is a hotel and office block at Kemayan Square, which would be the first prominent towering structure to welcome visitors to the state capital, as it is located near the entrance to the town.

The others are a budget hotel in Jalan Tuanku Antah, Kemayan Square Shopping Complex and Peninsula Plaza.

CSBHSB vice-president Helen Ho said the company was serious about reviving the project in Jalan Datuk Bandar Tunggal and that she and a company architect had met the MPS president on Monday.

“We have submitted an amended building proposal and are awaiting approval,” she said.

Seremban MP John Fernandez said the issue of abandoned projects was worrying, adding that although Bukit Kepayang assemblyman Cha Kee Chin had already raised the issue of the project in Jalan Datuk Bandar Tunggal during the state assembly sitting in April, he would follow up on it with the MPS.


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