Is it necessary to demolish to develop 1
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We were recently rocked by the shocking news that Asia Cafe in SS15, Subang Jaya, will be closing down by the end of 2017. Raymond Khoo, General Manager of Asia Cafe has confirmed that it will be demolished and its site to see a 30-storey SOHO building.

The food court is a staple of its locals, especially to students of tertiary education institutions nearby. Some expressed their dismay over its closure.

*Identity of Facebook users are made anonymous due to account owner's request.


However, there is nothing much we can do to save it now (except cry), as plans for developments are already taking place.

Fret not, as there are other hangout spots around Subang Jaya which will be able to soothe your pain, and here are some of them.

- Rock Cafe, Sunway (Nearby properties: Nadayu 28, Indah Villa Condo)
- G's Bistro, SS15 (Nearby properties: First Subang, Lafite Apartment, Casa Tiara, e-Tiara)
- Oregi SS15 (Nearby properties: First Subang, Lafite Apartment, Casa Tiara, e-Tiara)
- Boomtown Cafe, USJ 11 (Nearby properties: Arcadia Apartment, USJ 12)

There is an underlying question that nags at the back of our minds, though. With the rise of property developments coming up, is it necessary for developers to build their projects on people's favorite spots and landmarks?



Old Properties: To Conserve or Demolish?

Over the logic of refurbishment and demolition, there are a 2 main differences to the decision made. Sometimes, when there is a call for modernisation, or when there is a need for more space, refurbishing can be considered. Demolition, on the other hand, is usually considered when a building is deemed unfit for purpose, or is beyond economical use. Here are some examples to give you a better picture.


Why conservation is the better option

The debate of refurbishing a property and using it for other purposes has seen its success stories, compared to what the country is practicing now. Australia and China are two of a few countries who have taken the initiative of holding on to their old buildings, restoring it for other purposes. 

Over in Shanghai, China, an abattoir was converted into a space of various purposes through the years, from a medicine factory, cold storage and now a centre for fine arts. 1933, as it is called, retained most of its landscape, from its rough floors, where cows used to tread before they were slaughtered, and its high ceilings. The only renovation done was the installation of elevators. 


Image source: http://www.news.com.au/

Australia, on the other hand, has Coober Pedy's Underground Cafe as an example. What used to be an underground mine, was re-used as a jewelers home, a bed and breakfast, before eventually turning into a cafe, where flocks of locals and tourists visit.

Some of the landmarks are still fit for use, but why has the path to demolish been chosen? In true PropSocial fashion, where we push for real neighbourhoods, real reviews, we asked the public of their opinions on the closure of Asia Cafe. The consensus was that it wasn't necessary to tear down a landmark building for the sake of development, though some believe that it is what it is, and there's nothing the public can do about it.

“No it’s not necessary especially at that area. Too much development & already so congested. They should have just given the place a refurbishment or an upgrade just like the wet market nearby.” - T.N.
“I feel like there are enough condos in SS15 - especially with Taylor’s Subang students moving over to Lakeside. I mean, it’s still going to sell and rent is still going to be exorbitant because of the location so can’t really blame them la. Necessary, no. But close enough.” - I.M.
“While some might feel the sentiment towards some buildings or landmarks, it is private property and the owners have full rights to do anything with it. If they want to build something else over it or sell it for the sake of their business, who are we to stop them? - I.R.

A Kuala Lumpur native, who only wants to be known as Chu, is one of them who strongly believe that restoration and refurbishing should be done to preserve the current and old for the newer generations to appreciate. "We need to change with times, but the old need not be destroyed or demolished, instead should be converted for better use. We should not demolish for development, but to enrich what we have so that there is a story or history behind them", said Choo with a tinge of hope.



Why side demolition of properties?

The issue of demolishing to make way for new development is not new in the country, such as this recent case. As many deem it necessary, those who see so justify it as a "capitalist move", as mentioned above, and some see further, citing no historical value, making it suitable for demolishing.

One famous case was the Bok House debacle back in 2005, when a law was passed to push for more landmarks and older building to be conserved instead of demolished. The Bok House was originally the residence of philanthropist Chua Cheng Bok, before being leased out to become Le Coq d'Or in 1958, locals' favorite restaurant that stood for a good 43 years.

Image source: http://theforbiddensite.blogspot.my/

Unfortunately, the Bok House did not receive the privilege, and was subsequently destroyed a year later, in 2006. Then Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim's justification was that the Bok House was just a "rich man's residence", and indirectly said that it has no historic value by challenging those who opposed the move to show proof.

This eventually led to a debate on what is considered "historic value", but we will not touch on that in this article. You can read some of them, such as "Rejuvenating the country’s heritage buildings makes economic sense" by Joy Lee, and "KL heritage buildings facing destruction, say conservationists"

Below are other landmarks that have unfortunately been demolished, and what they have turned to:


Bukit Bintang Girls School

Image source: http://bbgs.com.my/about/

The girls school, was formed in 1893 by Betty Langlands and moved to Bukit Bintang in the 1930s. BBGS, as it was commonly known, was the oldest school in Kuala Lumpur, and stood on the same site until 2000, when they were asked to move to Cheras. Since moving to Cheras, the school goes by a different name, SMK Seri Bintang Utara (SBU), one of the first smart schools in the country.

The BBGS school was unfortunately demolished, and the site has been replaced by Pavilion KL.


Pudu Jail

Image source: Wikipedia

Built in 1891, the prison housed convicts which were used for labour. Pudu Jail was also the site of many incidents, mainly the cholera outbreak that wiped out hundreds of its inmates, as well as a hostage situation. It was also very well known for it's unique X-shaped layout, and after its closure in 1996, it had a short stint as a museum, before closing down for good in 2009.

The prison also boasted the iconic wall mural that was designed by then inmate, Khong Yen Chong, that was recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as the World's Longest Mural in 1984. Unfortunately, pictures will be the only source of reference now, as the wall has since been destroyed, along with Pudu Jail, to make way for commercial development in the city centre.



Conclusion

The debate of whether it is necessary to demolish a landmark for future development is never ending, with two parties having their own justifications. The answer is rather double edged, each with its sets of pros and cons, and decision is mainly down to factors that surround the development.

Do you think it's necessary to demolish a landmark for new developments? Let us know in the comments below!



(Written by Henry Choo, 18th Sept 2017)

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The government i believe should step in and come out with certain criteria, whether to conserve an old building or not. 

Else, in the name of development and keeping up with times... for sure the owner will choose to demolish and develop, and earn a handsome profit.

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I think thats the way it is now for our market. Old building is being demolish for development. Anyway some with history, government should reserve it and beautification and also put in concept together with tourism

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@jdh 

Agree with Jonathan. The government should make full use of the buildings with historical value, and make it a tourism attraction.

Currently, there are still so many undeveloped area in Malaysia, does not necessarily need to demolish old buildings.

James bond craig junio2006 small

Asia Cafe will be demolished to build office tower. Will the traffic there get any crazier than it already is now? Anyway, the demolishing of Asia Cafe doesn't really affect me, the food there sucks! :P