Streetscapes: Desa Setapak shops cater for student population

This article first appeared in City & Country, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on April 5, 2021 - April 11, 2021.
Jalan 1/27b and Jalan 14/27b are lined with 2-storey shophouses that have been converted into shopoffices (Photo by Chung Ying Yi/The Edge)

Jalan 1/27b and Jalan 14/27b are lined with 2-storey shophouses that have been converted into shopoffices (Photo by Chung Ying Yi/The Edge)

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Jalan 1/27b and Jalan 14/27b in Desa Setapak, Kuala Lumpur, are intersected by a roundabout and lined with 2-storey shophouses that have been converted into shopoffices. This is the only commercial area in the vicinity, says Metro Homes Realty Bhd executive director See Kok Loong.

The area is near Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar), SK Desa Setapak, AEON BiG and Wangsa Walk Mall, and easily accessible via Jalan Genting Kelang, Middle Ring Road 2 and Duta-Ulu Kelang Expressway.

The 2-storey shopoffices in both streets are occupied by F&B outlets, pharmacies, hair salons, convenience stores, motor accessory shops, bakeries, opticians, clinics and launderettes, among others. Catering mainly for the student population living nearby, they include Family Mart, F&S Supermart, No 10 Mixed Rice Restaurant, Mummy’s Noodles House, Restoran Wang Chuang, Restoran Jeju Korean BBQ, Restoran Thai Moment, King’s Bakery, Tealive, Hair Parlour, Diva Hair Lounge, My Eye Studio, Cityview Vision Care, Happy Pharmacy, Klinik Mediviron, Spin & Go Laundry, Bala Mini Market and Orange E Gadget.

Metro Homes’ See notes that there has been no property transaction in Jalan 1/27b and Jalan 14/27b recently as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.  One 1,563 sq ft intermediate unit was sold for RM1.9 million in 2017, and another at RM2.1 million in 2018, while a 2,784 sq ft corner unit was transacted at RM1.7 million in 2019 due to the lacklustre market then.

“In terms of monthly rent, the ground floor units bring in RM5,000 to RM6,000. The higher the unit, the lower the rent, with the first-floor units fetching only RM1,000 to RM1,200 per month. These translate into a yield of 4.5% per annum,” he says.

As for the residential properties nearby, See says medium-cost 2- and 3-storey terraced homes with built-ups of 800 to 1,100 sq ft were transacted at RM250,000 to RM450,000 in 2020. Rental rates range from RM1,200 to RM1,400 a month, giving yields of 4.5% to 5% a year.

“Owing to their proximity to Utar, these houses are often rented out to students and many of them continue to stay there even after they have started working because of familiarity and convenience, as well as for budgetary reasons,” explains See.


(Photo by Chung Ying Yi/The Edge)

A popular choice for those looking for more affordable options is 10 Mixed Rice Restaurant, which serves up economy rice, or more commonly known as “chap fan” in Cantonese. The eatery offers an extensive menu, from stir-fried vegetables and baked beans to chicken, pork and fish dishes.

“I would always visit the restaurant during lunch hour where I can get a plate of rice with curry chicken, fried squid, tofu and tau fu bok (bean curd) for only RM8 to RM9,” says Sam, who has lived in the area for more than five years.

“However, parking space is limited, especially during peak hours. I remember spending half an hour looking for an unoccupied parking lot even during weekdays. Most of the time, there is a lot of double-parking,” she adds.

See says the outlook for Desa Setapak appears positive considering that it is a stable and mature area with limited land available for new developments. Price movement is minimal and properties in the area can be rented out easily owing to their strategic location and proximity to the Wangsa Maju LRT station.