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Bukit Bintang, Bangsar still a force to be reckoned with

The Mont’Kiara enclave is a vibrant up-and-coming commercial and lifestyle hotspot, but how does it fare when compared to more established areas like Kuala Lumpur’s Jalan Bukit Bintang and Bangsar Baru?

Jalan Bukit Bintang, often described as Malaysia’s equivalent to Singapore’s Orchard Road, is a popular shopping, night life and eating destination, which starts from Jalan Pudu and intersects Jalan Sultan Ismail. The district is bordered by Jalan Raja Chulan and Jalan Imbi and dissected by inner roadways such as Changkat Bukit Bintang, which is known for its fancy eateries and entertainment outlets.

Here, shop offices, which range from 2 to 5-storeys, with average sizes of 20ft by 80 ft, have been around for about 30 to 35 years. The types of businesses operating throughout the area include restaurants, clothing stores, massage parlours, souvenir shops, budget hotels, convenience stores and so on.

“Usually, the ground floor units in the area are rented at between RM18,000 and RM20,000 per month, while the first floors command rent of about RM6,000 followed by RM3,000 for the top floor,” says Lalitha Anandarajah, Zerin Properties’ executive in mergers and acquisition-business space.

Even with the global economic slowdown, which has softened the property market, rents in the area have held steady. Although demand has increased over the years, says Lalitha, there are not many units up for sale primarily because owners are aware of the high rental yields.
The attraction of Jalan Bukit Bintang remains intact as property prices there have stayed high despite the economic downturn. Photo by Kenny Yap
Tiffany Goh, director of YY Property Solutions (valuation) in association with Cushman & Wakefield, says properties in prime locations, such as Jalan Bukit Bintang and Bangsar, should maintain their current prices and, in the short term, see a possible increase, with potential for capital appreciation.

For investors of these prime pieces of real estate, Lalitha has this advice: “Start with budget tourist accommodation since Jalan Bukit Bintang is associated with short-staying tourists and F&B outlets. Most locals and tourists view this part of KL as an alternative to Chinatown, with the added benefits of nightlife and modern shopping amenities.”

Still going strong
Another popular commercial area is Bangsar Baru, specifically the section starting from Jalan Telawi 3 to Jalan Ara, where Bangsar Village 1 is. This area covers about 3.7 acres and is a mature neighbourhood, where most commercial activities cater to daily needs.

The shopoffices were built in two phases. The 2-storey units were completed between 1974 and 1975, with a land area of about 1,797 sq ft, whereas the 3-storey lots of 2,045 sq ft were completed in 1993. Though once an exclusive hangout for expatriates, there is now strong competition from Mont’Kiara.

“The rents for the Bangsar Baru ground floor units range from RM10,000 to RM15,000 per month,” says Lalitha. “The first floor commands a rental rate of about RM5,000 per month and the second floor, RM3,000.”

If an entire lot is rented, says YY Property Solutions’ Goh, “the 2-storey units can command asking rents of about RM15,000 to RM18,000 per month, while the 3-storey units can command monthly rents of RM19,000 to RM23,000”.

There have not been many sales in the area although prices have been stable in the last few quarters. Occupancy rates are also steady.

There are investment opportunities in the area. “Investors may consider looking for old vacant shophouses to refurbish and create a theme or concept business, much like Jalan Doraisamy’s Asian Heritage Row,” says Goh.

Pull factor

Although the make-up of Jalan Bukit Bintang and Bangsar Baru is different from that of Solaris Mont’Kiara, they all adopt similar innovative approaches to cater to the needs of their respective demographics.

Interestingly, residential properties have indirectly benefited from the successful commercial activities in their vicinity. “I have to say that there is a positive effect on the values [of residential properties] as commercial areas provide convenience to the neighbourhoods,” says Lalitha. She notes that since 2000, capital values in Bangsar and its surrounding areas have increased by 60% to 70%.

“The price of a 2-storey terraced house, with a land area of about 1,870 sq ft in 2002, was between RM610,000 and RM730,000. In 2Q2009, a similar house was priced at between RM850,000 and RM900,000,” says YY Property Solutions’ Goh.
“A condo in Menara Bukit Ceylon, with an average space of 1,400 sq ft in 2003, went for RM220 to RM280 psf. In 2009, it is between RM420 and RM450 psf,” she adds.

The attraction and resiliency of Jalan Bukit Bintang and Bangsar remain intact as property prices there have stayed high despite the economic downturn. This shows that they are still a force to be reckoned with.



This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 771, Sep 7-13, 2009.
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