In 2019, Kuala Lumpur’s first dedicated financial district will begin to open its doors in stages to the public and its first tenants.
Set in the heart of the city centre, the 70-acre Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) has had a colourful journey to reach this historic milestone.
“It’s certainly been interesting and challenging to reach this stage, and I’m very proud of what we’re about to bring to life,” says Dato’ Azmar Talib, CEO for TRX City Sdn Bhd, the project master developer.
Attracting multinationals with state-of-the-art design
A green and sustainable aesthetic underscored the TRX masterplan designed by leading architectural firm, Machado Silvetti, after a rigorous international competition in 2011.
From the moment the masterplan was unveiled, TRX became a statement of intent underlining Malaysia’s economic vision to compete at a higher level in the global financial markets.
And today, TRX stands at the cusp of realisation.
“Commercialisation wise, we moved very fast, and we have hit critical mass. Implementation has its own challenges. There was a slight slowing down of pace during the elections period, but since then, TRX and related parties have awarded an additional RM2 billion worth of works.”
The development has involved the creation of new roadways directly linked to major highways in Kuala Lumpur, a dedicated MRT interchange, an onsite district-wide water treatment and recycling plant, scalable state-of-the-art digital infrastructure, conducive streetscape and pedestrian walkways, and a 10-acre urban park at the heart of the district that offers premium view for buildings in the periphery.
“Doing infrastructure for a project of this magnitude right in the city centre is not easy, especially when we have to do work beyond our boundaries, but we want TRX to integrate seamlessly into the urban fabric of KL,” Azmar adds.
TRX is allocating RM3 billon for its infrastructure, including RM1 billion set aside to upgrade infrastructure outside of its boundaries, such as the improvement of Jalan Tun Razak.
Welcoming the world to KL
Among the first major international partners for TRX were leading developers from the region: Indonesia’s Mulia Group and Australia’s Lendlease.
Slated for completion in 2019, Exchange 106, is currently the only building in the district available for rent.
“Exchange 106 is vital to TRX. Their implementation has been very successful, and we can see the tower, nearing completion, from anywhere in KL now. Having Exchange 106 early has helped brand TRX as a development and created a strong marketing perception.”
Also opening its door in 2019 is the Prudential Tower, developed by IJM Bhd. The 27-storey building welcomes TRX’s visitors coming down from Bukit Bintang, via a 400-metre pedestrian boulevard that will link the new district with Kuala Lumpur’s famous shopping belt.
The Lifestyle Quarter (LQ), a 60:40 JV between Lendlease and TRX, is currently ramping up its activities for a target completion of 2020/21. The precinct covers a 10-acre park and a 2 million sqf lifestyle mall, The Exchange, located underneath the park.
LQ, one of Lendlease’s largest global projects, would also include six residential towers and a hotel.
Also expected to complete in 2020 are the new HQs for HSBC, an RM1 billion investment, and that of Affin Bank Bhd.
“The proof of the pudding is when international and local giants sign up to TRX,” Azmar says.
What to expect in 2019
The political transition in Malaysia this year momentarily caused some anxiety as to the future of the project, but Azmar is convinced that the process integrity TRX City adhered to stood the company in good stead during a potentially difficult period.
“The Government not only gave us the green light, but has supported us with fund injection. We are grateful for that trust, and we have promised the Government that we will deliver the project. We are also undergoing value engineering to ensure we optimize our operations.”
“It’s really incredible to see the hard work, dedication and commitment of everyone we’ve worked with - the staff, the shareholders, and of course, our partners: investors, consultants, contractors, and authorities, who have been our strongest believers."
Looking further into 2019, Azmar is focusing on building an international brand with TRX.
“What’s important about development maturity is to enhance and elevate our brand to the level of international recognition. We believe in the unique qualities of the Tun Razak Exchange, and we can’t wait to share it with the world.”