Iconic Jakarta sites to get facelift

JAKARTA - The city administration will launch projects to develop the underground of the National Monument (Monas) square in Central Jakarta and to rejuvenate Old Town in West Jakarta next year.

Governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo unveiled the details on Thursday, though he has yet to decide on the budget allocation for the projects.

The Monas project will entail the construction of a three-story underground parking lot, a mass rapid transit (MRT) station and tunnels connecting the underground spaces to City Hall and to Gambir station. The city also plans to build an amphitheater in the square.

Planning team member Arya Abieta said that the concept was actually drawn up based on a 1997 city planning draft.

"We have improved it according to today's needs," Arya said at City Hall.

He said that the development of the space beneath Monas would not affect the existing structure, "so it won't affect the function of Monas as a green space".

During the press briefing, Arya of PT Jakarta Konsultindo, a subsidiary of city-owned property developer PT Jakarta Propertindo, said that the three-story parking lot would be able to house 1,000 motorcycles and more than 700 cars, while the amphitheater would be able to accommodate 900 visitors.

He also said that the team planned to build a commercial area for street vendors and a tunnel network connecting the Monas underground to Gambir station and City Hall.

"We designed the underground so that it won't use too much energy. We will build solar panel and airways," he said, adding that the structure would also be designed to accommodate the disabled.

"We will also build moving sidewalks," he said.

Jokowi said that the development of the Monas underground was regulated in a gubernatorial decree and has been included in the spatial planning bylaw, which is currently being revised.

"The development may take two years," the governor said.

Meanwhile, the city also plans to kick off the revitalization of the Old Town in Kota, West Jakarta, which is one of the capital's most famous tourist attractions, next year.

Bandung Institute of Technology's (ITB) member of the Architectural Design Research Group Woerjantari Soedarsono said the revitalization of the area may take years to complete.

"The Old Town is the oldest in Southeast Asia, but it's been facing numerous issues like traffic jams and security concerns. We have to not only develop its physical structure, but also develop social and culture activities to enliven the area," Woerjantari said.

She said that up to 300 buildings in the area needed rehabilitation.

"But to revitalize the area means to also strengthen its economy. We are designing it to be able to accommodate 280 street vendors," she said.

The revitalization plan will also include holding various cultural events to attract visitors and create an interesting atmosphere.

"We expect that the city will improve public transportation connecting other parts of the city to Old Town so visitors can park their vehicles anywhere and come to Old Town by public transportation," she said.

Jokowi said that double-decker tourist buses would arrive in December to make the city more accessible.

Trisakti University urban planning expert Yayat Supriyatna said that the governor should guarantee that the development of the Monas underground would not interfere with its function as a water catchment site.

"When we build a concrete structure underground, we will reduce the area's ability to hold water. The governor should also build as many percolation pits as possible to ensure that the runoff won't inundate the area," he said.