Redevelopment of Highland Towers site to start next year

By AFIQ AZIZ / Pic By TMR

The proposed development of a public park in place of the three abandoned Highland Towers buildings in Ampang can only start next year once all related legal issues are resolved.

The Highland Towers Redevelopment Committee, which was initiated by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (KPKT), is currently conducting a study with the Works Department (JKR) on the technical and construction aspects of the project.

KPKT Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin (picture) said the committee, which consists of some 10 government agencies including at the state level, is expected to conclude all legal matters by year-end.

“We need time as sorting out the legal matters is so sticky. Once it is done, the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council will be notified on the demolition processes.

“They are now in the middle of the technical meetings with JKR,” Zuraida told The Malaysian Reserve at her breakfast session with Ampang constituents recently.

The committee, chaired by KPKT Secretary General Datuk Seri Mohammad Mantek, was established to solely work on the 6.1ha site redevelopment, which was abandoned and uninhabited after the December 1993 disaster that claimed 48 lives when the first block of the 13-storey Highland Towers buildings collapsed due to a major landslide in Taman Hillview, Ulu Klang, in Selangor.

Built in phases between 1974 and 1982 at the primary steeply sloped hill, the towers were once home to affluent middle-class families, and a sizeable percentage of the residents were expatriates.

The location of the collapsed towers has been deserted since, and is now a haunt for riff-raffs and drug addicts.

Zuraida said the developer of the project, Regal Field Development Sdn Bhd, is also expected to build bungalows on the plot surrounding the park.

“Regal Field Development has some plots around the area. The bungalow project is the company’s long-term plan since they are willing to invest in the park development,” she said.

For a start, a sum of RM2 million would be forked out by the developer to demolish the buildings and clear the area.

Zuraida said the final concept of the park’s landscape, as well as the bungalows, will only be discussed after all the legal matters are resolved.

“We expect to conclude everything by this year. By next year, we can talk about the development,” she added.

According to the Malaysia Insolvency Department, each of the three buildings houses 50 units of apartments.

Zuraida said the developer has gotten the approval from all the unit owners to demolish the buildings after the redevelopment committee managed to identify all the owners within the three blocks.

During the first two months of the process, the committee was informed that 111 of the units were already acquired by Regal Field Development Sdn Bhd, while 12 unit owners were in the middle of applying for compensation.

Four unit owners have no intention to claim compensation, while two other apartments were actually unsold units.

Last September, the committee also identified the ownership status for another 21 units, of which 11 owners are still alive, while owners of another four units had passed away without leaving any heir.

“Everything is still pending as there are still two to three owners who are negotiating with Regal Field Development. It is a work in progress,” Zuraida added.