REPRIEVE:Landowner postpones indefinitely plans to demolish shop houses, to the relief of shopkeepers and residents
THE redevelopment of the row of shops along Jalan Batai, here, has been deferred by landowner Selangor Properties Bhd.
Its corporate affairs manager Chong Koon San confirmed this recently.
"For now, we will keep the project in view and continue renting out the shops.
"We have submitted and are awaiting approval of plans for another apartment project in the area," he said.
He was responding to questions on Selangor Properties Bhd's plans to demolish the row of shops and build two high-rise apartment blocks in their place.
Kiddies Store proprietor Rasuluddin Rahumathullah is among those relieved by the news.
He said he would now be able to focus on his business, which had taken a back seat since the landowner announced the plan for redevelopment.
"Instead of worrying about relocating, I can now focus on my outlet in Publika and maybe open a new shop. We are safe for now and can expect a reprieve of a few years.
"It will take Selangor Properties some time to amend and submit its plans, and I believe it wants to start the project when Damansara City is up and running," he said.
The Damansara City project, he said, was in the piling stage and expected to be completed in three years.
Hair Sculpture owner Andy Khoon is also glad of the delay, although he will now be planning ahead for the eviction to come.
"I need to think of a Plan B. I have been in business for 22 years here and while I do want to continue as long as I can, I'm no longer shocked at the possibility of having to move out.
Choy Peng Hong, manager of the iconic Hock Lee's, is happy to postpone his retirement, having been told by the boss to stay on as the landowner had put its redevelopment plans on hold.
"It is good to go on, even if it is only for a while. We can recover some of the RM3 million we had spent on renovating the shop three years ago. It will be sad to end a business that is even older than I," he said.
He claimed Hock Lee's was one of the first outlets to use the term "mini market" in Malaysia when it opened its doors in Jalan Mountbatten, now known as Jalan Tun Perak, here. It moved to Jalan Batai in the 1970s.
Florist Annie Wong, 53, was elated by the news.
"I have never made and don't ever want to make plans to move out," she said, adding that if City Hall was worried that the place was looking old or dilapidated, the developer could work on sprucing it up and constructing a garden within.
"They can do some upgrading work but retain the old world feel of the shops," she said, adding that she had run her shop there for some 25 years.
Ravi Makandu, who had lived in the neighbourhood for over 20 years, said residents did not want the landscape of the place to change with high-rise apartments.
"We are also sentimental about the shops that have served us since the early '70s," he said, adding that it was convenient for residents to make their runs for supplies there instead of going to Bangsar and Pusat Damansara.
Bukit Damansara Residents' Association (RA) chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman is also breathing easier.
"The residents are not against development, but they do object to high-rise residential buildings," he said, reiterating his earlier stand.
Last April, City Hall directed the developer to scale down its plans to build 25-storey serviced apartments with four basements on a 0.9ha land, with a plot ratio of 4.9. The apartments were to be downsized to 12 storeys each and the plot ratio was to be reduced to three.
A check with City Hall revealed that the developer had yet to submit the amended plans.
In October, Aziz had argued that the plot ratio in the Draft Local Plan for the area had been specified as two.
Residents had also lamented the loss of the shops and stated that they did not want the apartments to overshadow their homes.
The RA reportedly said that Bukit Damansara was already overdeveloped with too much commercial activity and too little parking space, and the high-density apartment blocks would add to the congestion.