S-E Asia's tallest tower to rise in KL

S-E Asia's tallest tower to rise in KL
The Petronas Towers stand in the central business district in Kuala Lumpur in this January 2013 file photo.

MALAYSIA - The narrow, tree-lined roads around Stadium Merdeka are mostly quiet, coming to life just twice a day when schoolchildren arrive at and spill out of the six colonial-era schools nearby.

At other times, traffic is sparse. Down one road is the 119-year-old Victoria Institution, whose alumni include Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Malaysia's second-richest man Ananda Krishnan, and former Singapore deputy prime minister S. Rajaratnam.

"I have worked here for 20 years and things have always been this quiet," said Mr Naina Mohammad, 52, who helps run a roadside restaurant. "But this could change soon, and I don't know whether the restaurant will be allowed to remain."

He was referring to plans to build Southeast Asia's tallest tower, at 118 storeys and a height of 596m, a stone's throw away.

The Warisan Merdeka (Independence Heritage) project is part of a huge complex that will include two condominium blocks, a hotel tower and an underground subway station.

The developer of the RM5 billion (S$1.95 billion) project is the government's trust fund manager, Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB).

The government says the development will take this almost forgotten corner of the city into the 21st century. But nearby building owners and conservationists warn that its old charm and heritage value are in danger of being lost forever.

Two huge plots of land, including what used to be an old public park, will be filled with the new skyscraper that will dwarf the 88-storey Petronas Twin Towers which is 452m in height.

Singapore's three tallest buildings are all 280m tall - UOB Plaza One, Republic Plaza and OUB Centre.

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