A year after the complete closure of Carcosa Seri Negara, Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL), which was granted the management of the century-old heritage building from Jan 1, will send out a request for proposal (RFP) to undertake conservation and development work on the site.
Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor tells The Edge that DBKL, which comes under his ministry, has scheduled for the RFP to go out at the end of this month.
He adds that there has been interest to expand the residence turned hotel by adding new rooms to it. But DBKL will only consider a proposal with no more than 60 rooms/villas, including the existing 13 rooms, on the site. Another requirement is that any new building that is built must follow the design of the two existing colonial buildings.
The seven-suite Carcosa and six-suite Seri Negara, which have operated as boutique hotels since 1989, occupy four acres near Taman Tasik Negara. Carcosa’s last day of operation was Dec 31, 2010, while Seri Negara, the newer of the two buildings, stopped operating this year.
DBKL is looking for a hotel management firm with a view of operating Carcosa Seri Negara as luxury class accommodation once the conservation and development work is completed.
“We are talking to both local and foreign hotel operators,” Tengku Adnan says without naming the operators. It is learnt that DBKL is keen to sign on management firms like Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts or Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts or names that could qualify Carcosa Seri Negara as part of The Leading Hotels of The World, a global hospitality consortium of more than 375 hotels and resorts in over 75 countries.
Located in Taman Tasik Perdana, Carcosa is gazetted as a national heritage and Seri Negara as a heritage site. Carcosa was built in 1896 as the official residence of Sir Frank Swettenham, the first resident-general of the Federated Malay States. Seri Negara was completed as a guest house in 1904.
Since Carcosa and Seri Negara have been gazetted under the National Heritage Act 2005, the Department of National Heritage is responsible for monitoring and controlling any work undertaken at the buildings to ensure and safeguard their significance.
In an email response, the department tells The Edge that it has yet to receive a proposal from DBKL. “DBKL was given the mandate to take over the management of Carcosa and to carry out the conservation work on the entire site and buildings in order to enhance it.
“As both buildings are gazetted under the National Heritage Act 2005, any work carried out on the site and buildings must comply with the Act, Garis Panduan Pemuliharaan Bangunan Warisan and the Guidelines for Conservation and Development of Carcosa and Seri Negara prepared by the Department of National Heritage.”
It adds that Section 40 of the Act states that the commissioner of heritage shall coordinate and advise the planning authority before any planning permission is granted involving the heritage site.
Prior to commencement of any work on the site, DBKL, as the owner of the heritage site, has to ensure that the site is always in good repair.
“Any building, if left abandoned, is prone to deterioration. Proactive measures must be taken to safeguard the buildings. The buildings should not be left empty for a long time as the deterioration rate will increase rapidly. Proper usage and continuous maintenance will safeguard the condition and structures of the buildings, hence prolonging the lifespan of the buildings,” the department points out.
On what DBKL has done since the hotel’s closure, Tengku Adnan says it has been carrying out periodic maintenance of the site but has been instructed to ramp it up, given the heritage value of the buildings.
This is not the first time Carcosa Seri Negara has been completely shut down. The property closed its doors on Jan 1, 2010, with a view to redevelop the site. The property and land management division under the Prime Minister’s Department invited bids for the job in late 2009 but this was subsequently called off and business resumed six months later but only at Seri Negara. In 2014, the division’s undersecretary cited restrictions on restructuring historical buildings under the National Heritage Act 2005 for the scrapping of the redevelopment. The area had also been designated as a green zone by DBKL.
When Seri Negara reopened for business in mid-2010, the management of the heritage building was given to Peremba Sejagat Sdn Bhd, which is wholly owned by Peremba Holdings Sdn Bhd. Before that, Landmarks Hotels & Realty Sdn Bhd, a unit of Landmarks Bhd, had a 20-year lease on the buildings that ended on Dec 31, 2009.
Following Malaya’s independence in 1957, Carcosa became the official residence of the British High Commissioner. The two buildings were then given to the government in return for 3.08 acres in Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur. The British High Commission was located there for many years until the parcel was sold to S P Setia Bhd in 2012 for RM294.97 million.