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Streetscapes: Bangsar’s charming hidden quarter

TheEdge Fri, Apr 19, 2019 04:00pm - 7 months ago

Lorong Kurau, off Jalan Bangsar in Kuala Lumpur, may be a little off the beaten path but over the years, it has gradually become a popular hangout, thanks to the array of modern F&B establishments that have replaced the sundry businesses that once occupied the row of old, 2-storey shophouses.

The single row of about a dozen shops is tucked away in a quiet residential area known as Taman Weng Lock. The laidback atmosphere along the stretch is in stark contrast to the more hip and happening Bangsar Baru, which has a lot more shopping, dining and entertainment options.

Dropping by one afternoon, the writer noticed that a new tenant, Italian restaurant Mangiiare, had recently moved into a corner shop. Over the years, tenants have come and gone.

We stopped at Bella by Big for a quick meal. As it was still a little early for the lunch crowd, we were able to soak in the pretty, light-filled décor and enjoy the tasty Italian fare in comfort.

The road may only have a handful of shops, but they offer a diverse range of food. Among them is Ganga Indian café and restaurant, Barat vegetarian restaurant and Podgy coffee shop, which used to be known as Podgy and The Banker in Sri Hartamas. There is also Bakar by Big barbecue restaurant, Baba Low’s casual nyonya restaurant, The Enclave gastrobar and Mary Provision Store, once a sundry shop that now serves Indian mixed rice.

Apart from eateries, an office occupies a corner unit while several other offices operate from the first-floor of the shops.

The shophouses in Lorong Kurau are said to be one of the first, if not the first, to be built in the vicinity of Bangsar. The other roads in the area are also named after fishes — Jalan Tenggiri, Jalan Bilis, Jalan Sepat, Jalan Senangin and Jalan Kaloi.

According to Zerin Properties managing director and CEO Previndran Singhe, “In the 1970s, when housing areas started emerging in the capital city, the street-naming committee began introducing Malaysian themes for new roads. Many places were named after different animals, and [this area] was named after fishes.”

Where once sundry shops, barber shops and a few eateries served the basic needs of residents, Lorong Kurau is today experiencing what Previndran calls a “spillover effect from the gentrification along Telawi and Maarof”. “In the 1960s, Giant opened its second retail store in Jalan Kurau.

“Although the houses in the area remain intact, small businesses have since moved out, making way for more modern and sophisticated outlets that can afford the mounting rents,” says Previndran. The shops can sell for up to RM1,700 psf and fetch rents of about RM7 psf, he notes.

“Lorong Kurau was once the twilight zone of Bangsar, with no business activities except for a pocket of residential development with a row of double-storey shophouses,” says PPC International managing director Datuk Siders Sittampalam.

“Over the last 10 years, there has been renewed interest by F&B outlets and medium-sized professional service firms. Business owners are proud of their businesses and the surge of interest has resulted in gentrification to some extent,” says Siders.

“To add to this, high-rise, high-end residential developments such as Nadi Bangsar and Suasana Bangsar have contributed to its growth. The University Kuala Lumpur residential hostel (in Jalan Tandok) is also located close by.”

There has been a lack of transactions in recent years, but Siders notes that a shophouse was put up for sale at an asking price of about RM3.5 million.

The asking rent for a ground-floor shop is RM6,300 per month and a 2-storey renovated shophouse, RM16,000, he adds.

Nonetheless, transacted prices of properties in Lorong Kurau are only half that of those in Bangsar Baru and Bangsar Park, he notes.

“With the growing interest in the locality and the limited number of shophouses there is potential growth in property values,” Siders concludes.


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