KAMPUNG Kerinchi is located in Pantai Dalam, Kuala Lumpur. In its heyday, Kampung Kerinchi had a big settlement of squatters comprising locals as well immigrants from Jambi, Sumatra in Indonesia.
Kampung Kerinchi took its name from Kerinchi in the Jambi district.The area was founded by Haji Abdullah Hukum, who arrived in Malaya with his wife and children during hard times, and a group of Sumatrans from Kerinchi. They settled in Kampung Kerinchi and planted pineapples, padi and fruits to survive.
In 1990s, the Kuala Lumpur City Hall decided to develop the area, building low-cost flats and middle-cost apartments.
Some of the squatter settlements were demolished and the residents moved to the new flatsin 1993.
In the following years, UOA Development Bhd came to Kampung Kerinchi. They started buying land in 2005 and constructed commercial and residential towers.
UOA named its development Bangsar South City, which today consists of Grade A office towers, medium to high-end residential units, service suites and retail shops.
Bangsar South was developed on a residential plot which comprised Kampung Kerinchi and Seri Angkasa leasehold flats, and Vista Angkasa apartments.
UOA lifted the image of Kampung Kerinchi by providing better facilities through the Bangsar South development, upgrading the linkages and access road. This, in turn, improved property and rental prices.
However, not all is good as rapid development means more cars which lead to congestion, especially during peak hours. The livelihood of locals, who have been living there for years before the Bangsar South development started, is affected by the massive construction.
Another development in Kampung Kerinchi is the KL Gateway, developed by Suez Domain and linked to the Universiti light rail transit station.
This mixed development comprises residences, corporate towers and a mall. The launch price for the office tower ranged from RM919 to RM1,037 per sq ft (for units between 1,200 and 11,800 sq ft), while the serviced residences ranged between RM600 and RM900 psf (for built-up areas ranging from 500 to 1,098 sq ft).
Today, the properties are transacted at slightly higher prices.
“Bangsar South and KL Gateway changed the Kampung Kerinchi skyline and improved land and property prices. They brought in international brands, from food outlets to hotel operators.
“UOA created a lively and vibrant lifestyle for the community, with the modern Nexus Shopping Mall and [email protected], while Suez Domain offers a new shopping destination for Kampung Kerinchi folk.
“However, the developments affected the livelihood of the locals who have been living in Kampung Kerinchi for more than three decades. Life changed drastically. Many also struggled with the high cost of living. Food was more expensive.
“It is important that an area has a comprehensive master plan so that development can be controlled and the density can be determined properly. In Kampung Kerinchi, there is dense development. In fact, it is overcrowded,” said a resident of Kampung Kerinchi who has been living there since 1960s.
WAS KERINCHI RENAMED BANGSAR SOUTH IN 2012?
There is a debate whether Kampung Kerinchi was renamed Bangsar South six years ago.
If you ask around, people will tell you that Kampung Kerinchi was called Bangsar South after the development started.
Bangsar South is the name of the development created by UOA, said Zerin Properties founder Previndran Singhe.
“The developer did not change Kampung Kerinchi to Bangsar South. They named their development Bangsar South.
"The branding is so strong that nobody calls it Kampung Kerinchi. They call it Bangsar South.
“It is similar to what SP Setia Bhd did in Shah Alam. They took over a large parcel of land (formerly known as North Hummock Estate) and named it Setia Alam.
“We must go back to our roots and be proud of what we are but we cannot punish the developer (UOA) for naming its development Bangsar South. I think the name of the development should not be confused with the name of the area.
“The name Bangsar South was approved by City Hall. It is the name of UOA’s development,” he told NST Property.
In 2010, UOA Holdings Sdn Bhd then general manager David Khor Soo Beng was quoted by an English daily as saying that the development was called Bangsar South City because it shared the same postcode with Bangsar even though the location was in Kampung Kerinchi.
PUSHING FOR NAME CHANGE
In a surprise move, Lembah Pantai member of parliament (MP) Fahmi Fadzil is pushing to revert Bangsar South to Kampung Kerinchi.
“What name change is he talking about when there is none to began with?” asked a local resident.
Fahmi had requested for the name change during a meeting between Kuala Lumpur MPs with Kuala Lumpur Mayor Tan Sri Mohd Amin Nordin Abdul Aziz.
“I raised a number of issues and one of my key promises is to return the name Kerinchi to Bangsar South. That, for me, is quite important. The question is why was this allowed or rather who allowed the name change? I have yet to find out, but I am keeping a close eye on this matter,” he was quoted as saying by a local English daily.
Previndran said if Bangsar South is renamed Kampung Kerinchi, then other areas must follow suit.
“Setia Alam must be renamed Shah Alam or KL Sentral should be called Brickfields since it is located in Brickfields. The original people in Kampung Kerinchi were relocated but the place is still called Kampung Kerinchi up to now.
“IJM Land Bhd is building Pantai Sentral Park in Pantai Dalam. Are they changing Pantai Dalam to Pantai Sentral Park? No, because that is the name of its development. Should Mont Kiara go back to what it was, Bukit Kiara?
“Desa Park City is in Desa Menjalara. But the developer created a brand. They created a destination and people call it Desa Park City. What about all those roads that have gone? Are we also going to review those names? Kerinchi to me is still Kerinchi.
“I don’t think people are going to start throwing their properties or prices will fall just because Fahmi said he will relook this matter. To me, Kampung Kerinchi as a whole is a great location.”
In fact, Jalan Kerinchi is still used as the address of Bangsar South.
THE FUTURE OF BANGSAR SOUTH
PropertyGuru Malaysia country manager Sheldon Fernandez said development in Bangsar South has picked up steam.
While the name change issue may be a bump in the growth trajectory, the area will continue to see positive traction given its strategic location, rail connectivity, ample public transport and strong branding created over the past seven to eight years.
The location is also relatively close to Petaling Jaya, Kuala Lumpur city centre, Mid Valley and others, which contributes to its attractiveness, he told NST Property.
“Kerinchi, or Bangsar South, has a growing affluent population of locals and expatriates. Beyond residential developments, there are plenty of hotels, offices and other components. There is also plenty of nightlife and entertainment.
“Bangsar South is a thriving, dynamic and self-contained locale or is on the verge of becoming one. If anything, it is the price of properties (and this is being felt across key urban property epicentres in Malaysia) that has been a dampening factor.
“A rose by any name will still be as sweet. So, one should look beyond the name change and consider the true socio-economic fundamentals of Bangsar South,” said Fernandez.
He said if the name change was disallowed circa 2010-2011 when Bangsar South was just beginning to take off, there might have been considerable impact.
Any present impact will largely be temporary as the enclave has reached critical mass.
“Developers already have mitigation plans, i.e. calling the location Kerinchi-Bangsar South or other names that will recognise the origins of the locale while reflecting its new lofty potential.”
Fernandez thinks that developers who intend to launch projects in Kampung Kerinchi will adopt a wait-and-see approach.
“This is only natural given that the country has undergone changes and may undergo further changes. The formula for success is to study carefully what kind of property should be supplied within the area.
“Where is there a gap? Would it be catering to families or young professionals? Own-stay apartments or Airbnb type of properties? Should developers provide property management services to entice buyers? Would another hotel be suitable in the area?” he added.