Suburban malls have become a prominent feature in many maturing neighbourhoods in Klang Valley over the last two decades. Well-planned, strategically located and easier to navigate than their urban commercial counterparts, these retail outlets offer a variety of stores and services that serve the direct needs of the communities they operate in.
“Neighbourhood malls located in high-population areas with fewer entertainment elements, such as Gamuda Walk, Wangsa Walk, Publika, 1 Mont Kiara and Dpulze, are doing very well, supported by strong consumer consumption in the neighbourhood,” Tan Joon Kai, Head of Property Management at Fair Star Shopping Sdn Bhd, said, when surveying the retail landscape over the last few years.
As they face increasing competition for the same audiences, some of these neighbourhood malls are going beyond just providing the basic needs of the locality, and instead, are establishing their own niche and differentiators to suit their communities.
Bangsar Village, for example, opened its doors in 2004, to cater to Bangsar’s growing affluent and expatriate community. Unlike the large Mid Valley Megamall, just 3.3km away, the shopping precinct focuses on providing a diverse range of high-end restaurants and cafes as well as a selection of luxurious boutiques and jewellery stores. Its anchor tenant, Village Grocer, stocks premium and imported products from all over the world, in line with its diverse international residents.
Publika and 1 Mont Kiara also follow a similar model given the similarities in their consumer profiles. Small, exclusive niche brands sit side by side with luxury offerings and upscale food options from all over the world. Publika has also differentiated itself by creating a comprehensive cultural calendar that runs the gamut from art to film, bazaars and festivals to live performances.
Accessibility and inclusivity
Setia City Mall (SCM), located in the up-and-coming neighbourhood of Setia Alam, prides itself not only in becoming the community mall of choice, but also one that places accessibility as its priority. Guided by its Design for Dignity principle, the mall is well-equipped with clear paths of travel for pedestrian and vehicles drivers, as well as handrails and ramps for persons with disabilities (PWDs).
According to Mohamed Khan, the Development Director at Lendlease Malaysia, the co-developer of SCM, a good building design must cater to all of the requirements needed, “These include integrating functional and user performance with statutory requirements. The built environment needs to be accessible to all users including PWDs. The universal design of SCM has made it the destination mall for all local shoppers within our catchment area.”
Alternatively, The Starling in Damansara Uptown has an eco-friendly and nature-inspired design at the core of its development. Its a great place for a family outing for residents of Uptown and the surrounding areas, offering a breadth of family-friendly restaurants, home and décor, a large grocer as well as fun weekend activities for kids.
The Melawati Mall capitalises on the urban development boom of Taman Melawati, Wangsa Maju, Bukit Antarabangsa and the surrounding areas, with a significant number of commercial and residential properties being built. Coupled with the completion of new highways, more people started moving into this once-quiet township.
This local demand created a space for Melawati’s own neighbourhood mall; one that caters specifically to its community’s retail wants, lifestyles and preferences. Opening its doors in 2017, Melawati Mall’s modern and contemporary design coupled with space planning optimisation, made it the perfect fit for the new look of Taman Melawati. Beyond that, it offers a great mix of local F&B outlets preferred by the community as well as international retail offerings, making it an excellent choice for residents to dine, relax and shop, without having to travel to the city centre.
IT manager and long-time resident of Taman Melawati, Hisham Ihsan, was pleasantly surprised when he first discovered that a new mall was being built where he lives as he no longer needed to drive into central Kuala Lumpur for his family’s needs.
“When we first saw the design for the mall, we weren’t sure it would fit the aesthetics of our charming and quaint neighbourhood,” Hisham says.
“But Melawati is changing, and I for one am glad that our local mall looks great and has everything we need,” he adds.
The mall’s success was swift and consistent; within a year of opening, it had already attracted eight million shoppers, and continues to be a favourite among nearby residents, as well as boasting occupancy rates that have remained above 80 percent.
Picture 1 - Bangsar village: https://www.timeout.com/kuala-lumpur/shopping/bangsar-village-ii