News 72

[mymetro]‘Zero takeaway orders at hub during lockdown’

Update time:2021-07-14 19:00Tag:

  A MULTIMILLION-ringgit project that was once expected to give Kuala Lumpur an additional boom is in a gloomy state due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

  TREC KL, once the capital city’s major venue for parties and events, is now a mere collection of empty clubs, restaurants, cafes and shops that have been boarded up and sitting quiet.

  Overgrown weeds, dying plants and dead leaves scattered around the area are tell-tale signs of how things have come to be at the once-popular entertainment hub located in Jalan Tun Razak.

  TREC, which stands for “Taste, Relish, Experience and Celebrate”, has been wasting away since the country was plunged into a series of movement restrictions from March last year.

  Before the pandemic, it had been listed by Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry (Motac) as an entry-point project under the Tourism National Key Economic Areas that aimed to attract a minimum of 1,000 tourists per day.

  It was touted to become a one-stop integrated entertainment destination similar to Hong Kong’s Lan Kwai Fong, Shanghai’s Xin Tian Di and Singapore’s Clarke Quay.

  But after being repeatedly hit under the movement control order due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the entertainment sector –- particularly the nightclubs and bars in the city –- have been struggling to sustain themselves.

  During the first MCO in March last year, entertainment outlets like nightclubs and pubs were part of the 11 businesses that were not allowed to operate.

  With the exception of restaurants, pubs and nightclubs with licence from Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to serve food and liquor licence from the Customs Department, outlets without

  these permits have had to remain closed.

  At TREC KL, entertainment accounts for 70% of business while the remaining 30% is in food and beverage.

  TREC Holdings Sdn Bhd general manager Kelvin Lam said it had been an unending struggle since last year.

  “Around 50% of our tenants, whose tenancy is about to expire or have expired, say they will no longer renew the tenancy and are looking to sell their business,” he noted.

  TREC is managed by a single landlord and is operating on land leased from the Royal Selangor Golf Club.

  “The tenants (entertainment outlets) don’t want to stay.

  “And despite us offering them free rent and free service charge, they simply cannot afford to keep running without any profit,” said Lam.

  Even the food-and-beverage outlets, he said, were struggling and that there had been zero takeaway orders during this lockdown.

  “No one comes all the way out here just for takeaways,” he said, disclosing that the restaurants saw footfall drop by 70% last year. Factors like limited operating hours, constant checks for SOP compliance by the authorities, confusion over businesses regarded as essential services and the process of getting the International Trade and Industry Ministry’s (Miti) approval caused some to close shop, he noted.

  “We are concerned that the remaining tenants may not stay if they are not allowed to operate soon.

  “They won’t be able to survive as there are loans to service, besides suppliers and workers to pay.

  “Some are already looking for buyers to sell off their business,’’ Lam said, adding that the other 50% were waiting for the third quarter to make a final decision.

  In fact, several outlets have never had the chance to operate despite spending millions of ringgit on

  renovation before the MCO was implemented.

  TREC KL contributes about RM4mil to RM4.5mil in assessment taxes, building charges and licence fees to DBKL every year.

  Tenants also pay licence fees for premises, liquor and entertainment as well as for events.History of hub

  TREC KL opened for business in 2015 with an investment of RM323.6mil.

  Located on 2.8ha next to the Tun Razak Exchange Centre, it

  offers a front-row view of the Royal Selangor Golf Club’s green.

  There are currently 48 brands in five themed zones, offering a variety of eateries, club bars, pubs, cocktail bars, cafes and live music venues, and rooftop gardens.

  The project is endorsed by Motac as a designated entertainment zone under the NKEA EPP programme.

  TREC KL is also part of the Kuala Lumpur’s Master Tourism Plan 2015-2025.

  Phase 1 was launched in August 2015 with Zouk KL, followed by the Electric Boulevard Block in December 2015 with the Mercedes-Benz City Store becoming the second landmark.

  In May 2016, Phase 2 comprising the Hive, Terraces and Alley blocks opened with the arrival of regional and international brands.

  Hundreds of thousands of people visited the hub between 2015 and 2019, with the biggest turnout of about 13,000 people attending events such as MotorGP Weekend, Malaysia Bikers Week, Tiger Street Football, Halloween, music festivals, and Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve countdown celebrations.

  Zouk KL, a venue that has been part of the city’s club scene for almost 20 years, moved from Jalan Ampang into a 60,000 sq ft lot in TREC KL in 2015.

  In 2015, StarMetro reported that the building was built at a cost of RM38mil, which would make the club -– ranked 52nd in the world in 2014 by DJ Mag –- the most expensive nightspot in the country.

  While located within TREC KL, Zouk KL comes under a different management and has been closed since March 18 last year.

  In November last year, then Zouk Club (KL) Sdn Bhd general manager Yean Ng told StarMetro that it had zero revenue since middle of March last year and more than 100 employees had to be put on unpaid leave.

  When contacted recently, Ng said: “We have sold the club and I am no longer with them. The new owners prefer to remain private.”

  Lam said another major brand whose tenancy had expired was Mercedes-Benz Malaysia and Cycle & Carriage Bintang and that they would not be renewing their contract.

  The autohauses introduced the Mercedes-Benz City Store at TREC Kuala Lumpur in 2016, which involved an investment of RM4.3mil.

  Sadly, the luxury automotive outlet will no longer light up the perimeter of the bustling Jalan Tun Razak at night.

  Quiet and empty

  It was noon on a weekday and the usually buzzing atmosphere at TREC KL was devoid of people except for two security employees.

  The entire entertainment hub was closed and the last outlet —a convenience store — had just closed down a few days back.

  The shops, cafes and bars were shut.

  Dust, debris and dried leaves settled on tables and chairs left outside many of the outlets.

  Plants in flower pots at outlets had not been watered and were wilting.

  At a bar seen through a glass door, tables and chairs were stacked on top of each other.

  The rooftop gardens were closed up while the ATM kiosks had all been removed for security reasons.

  The carparks were virtually empty –- a far cry from the time when people used to queue up for over a mile just to get into the clubs.

  At Zouk KL, the area was dead quiet and looking a little rough with plants and shrubs dried up.

  Zouk KL has been closed for more than a year and has a new management at its helm.

  Lam said many employees who were let go, had resorted to selling street food, becoming e-hailing drivers or joining cleaning crews.

  “There is very little energy left.

  “We are all tired, but we are still hopeful that things will eventually get better. It has to,” he insisted.