Development of Pudu Jail site to begin 1Q11

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KUALA LUMPUR: UDA Holdings Bhd will commence construction works on the redevelopment of the Pudu Jail site by the first quarter of 2011 (1Q11) and the project will be undertaken in stages over 10 years, Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Awang Adek Hussin told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

In a reply to Fong Kui Lun (Bukit Bintang-DAP), Awang Adek said the mixed development on Jalan Pudu in the city centre had been divided into six phases.

The decision to stagger construction of the development, earlier named Bukit Bintang Commercial Centre, was made after considering current and projected property market conditions as well as economic projections for the next 10 years, said Awang Adek.

About 40% of the development would comprise residential properties while the remainder would be commercial spaces, most of which would be owned by UDA Holdings to be rented out, he said.

The RM5 billion mixed development on the former prison site will include a transit centre, serviced apartments, a hotel, office spaces, recreation areas and commercial spaces, Awang Adek said.

The mega project would cover almost 22 acres (8.8ha) of land which includes the Pudu Jail site and its adjacent field.On May 9, Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah was quoted by Bernama as saying that UDA Holdings had yet to decide on whether to carry out the project on its own or find a partner.

To another question, Awang Adek reiterated that the government had decided that Pudu Jail would not be made into a heritage site nor would it build a museum to commemorate the historical prison.

“The government is of the opinion that it is not something we can be proud of. There may be many things we can be proud of rather than a jail,” Awang Adek said.

The 115-year-old former prison, built by the British administration, sits on prime land near the Bukit Bintang and Jalan Imbi shopping and hotel districts.

Earlier announcements that Pudu Jail would be demolished to make way for the redevelopment sparked criticism by various quarters, who argued in favour of maintaining the landmark as a national heritage site.

In recent days, the outcry over the fate of Pudu Jail was reawakened after it was reported that a 300-metre prison wall fronting Jalan Pudu would be demolished over three days from last night.

The wall, which bears mural paintings by former inmates, will make way for the construction of an underpass which forms part of a road-widening project to ease traffic congestion in the area.    

This article appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, June 22, 2010.