Cover Story: New infrastructure changing KL suburb

This article first appeared in City & Country, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on April 1, 2019 - April 07, 2019.

Wong: With the existing developments and those under construction, Kuchai Lama is slowly being transformed into a modern suburb of Kuala Lumpur

Ajinomoto has been operating in Kuchai Lama for five decades

NSK Trade City and shops at Kuchai Entrepreneurs Park

The nearest rail station to Kuchai Lama is the Pantai Dalam KTM Komuter station

Tan: The shortage of land in the city area is driving developments [in Kuchai Lama]

Adzman: [Kuchai Lama] has good road linkages

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The Kuchai Lama area in Kuala Lumpur has witnessed major changes in the past decade or longer, with accessibility gradually improving and many developments springing up. Most, however, would be at a loss to figure out how the suburb got its name — kuchai means chives in the Hokkien dialect.

Despite being a mature area, the upgrading of the infrastructure and its location between Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya has turned it into a sought-after location for many.

Jalan Kuchai Lama, off Jalan Kelang Lama, is one of the oldest thoroughfares in the Klang Valley. Housing estates in the area include Happy Garden, Taman Goodwood, Taman Lian Hoe, Taman Continental, Taman Pagar Ruyong, Taman Kuchai Jaya, Taman Salak South, Taman Naga Emas.

Kuchai Lama is linked — via Jalan Kelang Lama — to several newer highways, including the Maju Expressway, Sungai Besi Expressway, Shah Alam Expressway, New Pantai Expressway, SMART Tunnel and the Federal Highway.

For now, the nearest rail station is the Pantai Dalam KTM Komuter station, but two MRT stations — in Kuchai Lama and Taman Naga Emas — are planned for the upcoming Sungai Buloh-

Serdang-Putrajaya Line (SSP Line), which is scheduled to open in 2022.

In the early days, the buildings in the area mainly comprised sawmills, workshops, factories and commercial shopoffices. There was also a cinema as well as residential units, including single and two-storey terraced houses and low and high-rise apartments.

Ajinomoto, which has been operating there for five decades, is among the more established companies there. Another well-known factory in the neighbourhood is Malaysia Packaging Industry Bhd, which has since moved out to pave way for the construction of the Kuchai Lama MRT station.

Educational institutions include SMK Sri Sentosa, Sekolah Kebangsaan Seri Setia, Sekolah Kebangsaan (C) Choong Wen and Kuala Lumpur Industrial Training Institute.

The growing population has led to more new developments in Kuchai Lama, experts say, with the scarcity of land and rising prices in Kuala Lumpur city centre a contributing factor.

The value of the properties have since appreciated significantly. Pockets of land and many of the factories have been gradually developed into new and modern projects.

 

New and pocket developments

High-rise developments started coming up in Kuchai Lama over the last few years as land prices rose sharply in Kuala Lumpur, says James Tan, associate director at Raine & Horne International Zaki + Partners Sdn Bhd.

“The shortage of land in the city area is also driving developments there as Kuchai Lama is located fairly near to the city. As the population grows, there have been more new commercial shophouses and offices there.”

Kuchai Lama is just 8km away from Kuala Lumpur city centre and residents can easily go to other areas of the Klang Valley, such as Bangsar, Petaling Jaya and Sungai Besi.

VPC Alliance (KL) Sdn Bhd managing director James Wong notes that Kuchai Lama has been transformed from an area with small housing estates into one with new developments, comprising mostly high-rise condominiums and serviced apartments.

The site of Aik Bee Sawmill was developed into Pearl International Hotel with an office tower annexe and the Pearl Point Shopping Mall.

“The earliest high-rise development in Kuchai Lama, Kuchai Brem Park, was developed by Bertam Development in 1980, and consists of four blocks of apartments with 434 units, ranging from 750 to 1,700 sq ft,” Wong says.

Recently completed developments include KL Palace Court, Arte @ Kuchai Lama and Spring

Avenue, while among those under construction are GenKL and Residensi Far East.

ExaStrata Solutions CEO Adzman Shah Mohd Ariffin says that over the past few years, Kuchai Lama has evolved into an area with gated-and-guarded semidetached houses, apartments and condominiums.

“It has good road linkages, so more developments have taken place over the last few years, especially in pockets within Taman Lian Hoe, Taman Continental, Happy Garden and Taman Kuchai Jaya areas,” he adds.

“Older apartments are fetching RM380 to RM450 psf and the price trend has stabilised. Newer apartments and condominiums are being launched at RM700 psf and above. For shops, transactions have stabilised at RM900 to RM1,200 psf,” Adzman notes.

Wong says Arte @ Kuchai Lama, developed by Nusmetro Group, was launched at an average selling price of RM400 to RM580 psf. Meanwhile, newer developments such as GenKL by Asiana Agresif Sdn Bhd — a 30-storey tower with 332 luxury condos on a hillside at Taman Lian Hoe — was sold at RM650 to RM780 psf.

He believes that Kuchai Sentral in Taman Kuchai Jaya by Menta Corporation will be a landmark development there, similar to Publika for Mont’Kiara. The development offers 941 serviced apartments and 40 duplexes as well as 45 retail units.

“With the existing developments and those under construction, Kuchai Lama is slowly being transformed into a modern suburb of Kuala Lumpur. As the population in the area is predominantly middle-income, the majority of the buyers will be looking for properties priced RM1 million or below,” he says.

Adzman notes the latest properties in Kuchai Lama offered by developers are marketable as they are mainly medium-high to high-end residential properties. The area’s proximity to Kuala Lumpur, Mid Valley City, Bangsar South and Sunway will be an added attraction.

 

Improved infrastructure

Improved infrastructure can also add value to an area in terms of connectivity and, hence, property values. In Kuchai Lama, property experts believe the latest catalyst to attract more homebuyers and investors will be the opening of two MRT stations on the SSP Line.

The 52.2km SSP Line from Sungai Buloh to

Putrajaya Sentral will have a total of 37 stations. There will also be interchange stations to allow passengers to switch to other public transport such as KTM Komuter, LRT Ampang Line, LRT Sri Petaling Line, KL Monorail, Sungai Buloh-Kajang MRT Line and ERL KLIA Transit.

Wong expects to see more projects along the MRT route in the near future.

“Developments near the MRT Line 2 stations in Kuchai Lama will benefit in terms of increasing value and accessibility,” he says, adding that improved connectivity and easy travel to the KL Central Business District will see demand rising for properties, he adds.

“The MRT Line 2 stations are expected to spur developments in Kuchai Lama and attract more people to move into the area. Kuchai Lama is expected to grow at its own pace, with property values increasing gradually.”

Moving forward, Adzman believes the prospects for the area are promising but warns of traffic congestion because of the narrow internal road network and heavy traffic along Jalan Kelang Lama.

The latest developments are high-density and may worsen the current traffic problem, he says.