Streetscapes: Affluent suburb is home to a handful of hidden gems

This article first appeared in City & Country, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on June 1, 2020 - June 07, 2020.

Bukit Damansara has become a desirable neighbourhood with a median property sale price of RM2.48 million or RM659 psf

Photo by Patrick Goh/The Edge

Adjacent to the shops is the Stella Maris International School

Photo by Patrick Goh/The Edge

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The affluent suburb of Bukit Damansara, also known as Damansara Heights and comprising largely terraced houses, semi-dees and bungalows, is served by several small pockets of commercial areas.

This week, we are exploring the single row of shops on Lorong Setiabistari 2, which is home to several well-loved F&B outlets as well as a dry cleaner, language centre and some offices.

A favourite with locals on that stretch is Checkers Restaurant. The no-frills non-halal establishment has been operating at the same shoplot for more than 20 years and serves old-style Western comfort food. A must-try is their giant slab of pork ribs, called Lord of the Ribs.

Lorong Setiabistari 2 is also home to other popular F&B establishments including Italian restaurant Via Pre, Kristang restaurant Kumi as well as deli, butcher and restaurant, The Meat Experts.

Before the Movement Control Order was implemented, a typical day would see the shops frequented by residents as well as the lunch crowd from the offices in the vicinity. The area can also get a little congested during pick-up and drop-off hours at the adjacent Stella Maris International School.

“At night, the area is relatively quiet save for the few F&B outlets that remain open. Nightlife is generally centred at the nearby Plaza Damansara,” says Savills Malaysia group managing director Datuk Paul Khong.

Based on a ground survey, Khong found that rents for shops in Lorong Setiabistari 2 range from RM3,000 to RM4,500 monthly for the ground-floor units, and from RM2,000 to RM3,000 for the first-floor units. A typical ground floor unit on that stretch has a built-up of 1,080 sq ft and measures 24ft by 45ft.

According to Khong, the most recent tenant movement on this row was in 2017. It was for a first-floor intermediate unit with a monthly rental of RM3,500, which is comparable to that of a ground-floor unit here.

“The rentals here do not fluctuate much, as the neighbourhood shops enjoy stable business and the properties provide a consistent income stream for landlords. The row of shops also enjoys good occupancy, owing to the limited units available, ample parking and reasonable rents,” he remarks.

In terms of sales, this row has not seen any transaction in recent years, with the last one being in December 2004, notes Khong. “The sale was for an intermediate 2-storey unit at RM580,000. Since then, no more transactions were noted but capital values would have since appreciated.

“This could mean that most landlords are comfortably holding on to their units while enjoying a good stream of rental due to the limited number of units, coupled with a steady demand from tenants,” he says.

Formerly a rubber estate, Bukit Damansara was developed as affordable housing for civil servants in the 1970s by a subsidiary of the Island & Peninsular Group (I&P Group) known as Syarikat Perumahan Pegawai Kerajaan Sdn Bhd, according to Khong.

Fast forward to today, Bukit Damansara has become a desirable and prestigious neighbourhood with a median property sale price of RM2.48 million or RM659 psf, based on data from EdgeProp.my.

According to Khong, a semidee at Seri Beringin — a relatively new low-density, gated and guarded development in the area — can easily fetch RM3.8 million on the market. “Although prices have declined slightly in the last two to three years, we expect demand to pick up when market conditions improve in the future.”

Closer to Lorong Setiabistari 2, a 2-storey intermediate terraced house with a built-up of 1,650 sq ft on Lorong Setiabistari 1 was transacted at RM1.3 million in 2019. Meanwhile, on Jalan Setiajasa, a well-­renovated unit with a similar built-up was transacted at RM2 million in the same year.

As for shops, a 3-storey intermediate unit on Jalan Setiabakti with a built-up of 4,730 sq ft and land area of 1,873 sq ft was transacted at RM5 million in 2018.