How the Bukit Bintang City Centre project came about

The history of the redevelopment of the old Pudu prison site, which is now called Bukit Bintang City Centre (BBCC), can be traced back some 20 years when the 19.4-acre prime land first became vacant.

There were several suitors who had wanted to partner the Urban Development Authority (UDA), but none could come up with a solution that was acceptable to it. It was one of the last big parcels of prime land left in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

An acceptable solution was hard to come by because UDA feared its role as the guardian protecting bumiputra interest in real estate in the city could be compromised as any solution would have entailed outside parties taking a stake in the development authority since UDA did not have the financial strength to undertake the development of the site on its own.

The key concern was to ensure that UDA’s stake would not be reduced to a minority stake or diluted even though there were a number of interested parties.

The first proposal to redevelop the site came about in 2011 when Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed was UDA chairman.

He had proposed a tie-up with a Hong Kong-based Chinese developer, Everbright International Construction Ltd, with a RM2bil investment into the project.

However, the Finance Ministry shelved the proposal and suggested that the Pudu prison site be split into three parcels to allow more bumiputra participation. UDA’s role would then be that of owner and master developer of the project.

It was reported that around 10 companies had been shortlisted for the redevelopment, but half of them did not have the financial muscle, while those with the financial strength wanted control of the project with at least a 51% stake.

Then, in February last year, UDA decided to partner Eco World Development Group Bhd for the redevelopment under a joint-venture partnership with the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) via a special-purpose vehicle (SPV). Under the SPV, UDA would hold a 40% stake, while Eco World and the EPF would have 40% and 20% stakes. UDA would remain as the land owner and assign the development rights to the SPV.

The development order for BBCC was obtained on July 3l last year.

The consortium was brought together by Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani, who was appointed UDA chairman in July 2013. - The Star