New Life for an Old Town
    Category: SOEs in Transition By : Gloria Haraito Read : 3387 Date : Sunday, May 04, 2014 - 18:39:43

    Source: JOTRC

    Plans to restore Kota Tua, Jakarta’s historic district, seem to be almost as old as the area itself, which dates back to 1620 (Kota Tua means “old city”). Renovation schemes have been floated since at least the 1970s. Yet little progress has been made, and some of the best examples of colonial architecture in Southeast Asia, many dating back centuries, have been allowed to decay. The TokoMerah building is a well-preserved exception that shows the potential of the area. It is a beautiful example of early Dutch architecture in a dramatic red color built for the former Dutch East Indies governor in 1730.

    Finally, it seems something will be done. The administration of governorJokoWidodo (Jokowi) launched an effort last October to revitalize Kota Tua when it established the Jakarta Old Town Revitalization Corporation (JOTRC) to oversee the effort in a partnership between state-owned enterprises, the municipal government and the private sector. The JOTRC is working with the Jakarta Endowment for the Arts and Heritage (Jeforah). The JOTRC will oversee the physical renovation of the area while the Jeforah is responsible for bringing cultural and other activities back into the area.

    The JOTRC is led by Chief Executive Lin Che Wei, a well-connected consultant who has an extensive background working with the state-owned enterprises. The JOTRC has attracted a board that consists of nine of the biggest property tycoons in the country—a group that normally are competitors, but whom have come together in the interest of preserving a unique heritage area of Jakarta.

    The stakes are enormous. Cities such as New York and Shanghai have undertaken similar restorations in their historic areas, turning them from eyesores into major moneyspinners as shopping, nightlife and tourist centers. While Bali has become a major global tourist center, Jakarta boasts few sites to attracts tourists. Creating a vibrant Kota Tua, filled with restored historic buildings and interesting activities would go a long way toward rectifying the imbalance between Bali and Jakarta for tourism.

    Early signs are encouraging. In an unused second floor of the historic GedungPos (Post Office) building on Fatahillah Square in Jakarta, the JOTRC took only two months to convert it into an art gallery called GaleriaFatahillah. It was opened in March during the two-day Fiesta Fatahillah, held in the square, to celebrate the launch of the rebirth of Kota Tua, which is slated to take at least five years. The gallery opened with a show of the works of prominent Indonesian artists such as EntangWiharso and FX Harsono. On the first and second floors of the GedungPos building visitor centers have been opened that give out information about the restoration effort. “This building has witnessed much history,” says Che Wei.