Streetscapes: A street in Bangsar draws the trendy set

This article first appeared in City & Country, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on October 26, 2020 - November 01, 2020.

Jalan Kemuja is home to trendy, Instagrammable restaurants and cafes such as Lisette’s, Apollo Dining and Coley

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Jalan Kemuja is located slightly off the bustling commercial area of Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur. Nonetheless, it is still difficult to get a table at some of the restaurants and cafes there, especially on weekends.

The road, which is lined with mature trees and fronts a small car park, is home to trendy, Instagrammable restaurants and cafes such as Apollo Dining and Coley. Lisette’s, known for its freshly baked goods and vegetarian-friendly buffets, is a crowd favourite along the thoroughfare, drawing the fashionable set.

Jalan Kemuja is also home to interior design shop Studio Bikin. Another cult favourite, design company Nala Design, is located just across the road at Jalan Abdullah. Both Nala Design and Lisette’s have the same owner, Lisette Scheer.

“This row of commercial shophouses (about 30 to 40 units in total) is more low profile when compared with the trendier commercial hubs in Bangsar such as Bangsar Baru (between Jalan Telawi 1 and Jalan Telawi 5), Lucky Garden or nearby Bangsar Utama. Its close proximity to the Bangsar LRT station brings pedestrian traffic to this locality,” says Metro REC Sdn Bhd managing director Ng Weng Yew.

“Occupancy is generally strong, with most units (including upper units) taken up. Businesses operating here include cafes and restaurants, legal firms and vehicle workshops,” he adds.

Jalan Kemuja forms part of Bangsar, which is a vibrant enclave thanks to its commercial establishments. The area was covered by rubber plantations some 50 years ago. In 1962, property companies Bandaraya Development and Bangsar Hill Developments bought the land for about RM5,000 per acre and started building homes there, consultants say.

“There has been no transaction of properties along this stretch for the past five years, probably due to the businesses being sustainable and long term. The last reported transaction was in September 2014 at RM3.2 mil [for a 2-storey shophouse of 2,140 sq ft] and another in June 2013 at RM2.1 mil [for a similar size]. The average price psf was about RM750 then. Asking rentals are about RM4.00 to RM4.50 psf for ground-floor units and RM1.30 to RM1.80 psf for upper-floor units, based on the building’s physical condition.

“Generally, its locality within Bangsar as well as close proximity to the Bangsar LRT station and surrounding good-grade office towers such as Menara UOA Bangsar and Dataran Maybank will continue to make this street a popular commercial row. Nonetheless, quite a number of the shophouses here are old and look tired, and may need rejuvenation to enhance the building façade. Another key challenge here is the lack of parking space,” says Ng.