Atria going for good

  • Community
  • Monday, 25 Jul 2011

THE clock is ticking for Atria Shopping Centre which has been the preferred choice for shoppers mainly in Damansara Jaya.

The reason: To make way for the centre’s redevelopment project next month.

A few tenants are still operating in this once bustling complex, but they will have to bring the shutters down soon.

StarMetro revisits the history of this beloved neighbourhood mall, originally known as Gardenia Town Centre that was built in 1980s.

Departmental stores Printemps and Kimisawa were the main tenants then, However, when the Lion Group took over the building, Kimisawa was converted to Parkson Grand while Printemps became Atria Shopping Centre.

As the years rolled by, Lien Hoe Corporation took over Atria in the early 2000s, and Parkson Grand supermarket was taken over by Tops and later by Giant in 2005. Then in 2007, Lien Hoe sold Atria to OSK Property Holdings.

Ask the old-timers and they would regale you with tales of Piccadilly discotheque — a popular hang-out for teenagers and college students then. The disco was famed for its afternoon tea dances and frequent police raids.

With the emergence of new and bigger shopping centres in the nearby areas and keys tenants moving out of Atria, the place began to lose its shine and charm.

Among them was Popular Bookstore which decided to relocate elsewhere. It was replaced by Big Bookshop, which operated a book warehouse concept in the same space. Parkson Grand which attracted a lot of people, also “departed”.

Frequent and long-time visitor to the centre Goh Chee Khian said Atria had a wide selection of shops.

“I remember this place from the days of Printemps, Kimisawa and Parkson. When there was a big sale, we had to queue up to get on the escalators.

“The place was a craze for shoppers and always packed with people,” said Goh.

He said besides attending underground gigs at Piccadilly in the early 1990s, Atria was one of the best places to shop for cool things.

“There were niche shops selling model kits to comics. And being a music fan, I could get things at the rock T-shirt kiosk just outside the mall (in the mid 90’s) and from CD Rama, a music store upstairs, which is sizeable and well stocked.

“I also remember the Pay Less Books outlet which was one of the first places to get affordable and cool books in Petaling Jaya.

“Later on, there was the comic bookstore Earth638, a little small shop with a great selection of vintage comics,” reminisced Goh, adding that other notable tenants were Esquire Kitchen and Nyonya House.

Another long-time visitor Goh Ee Koon said she has been frequenting Atria for about 21 years, when it was still known as the Chujitsuya/Kimisawa Japanese supermarkets.

“It was the typical hangout area for many of my schoolmates and I because of its close proxmity to our school.

“Prior to the opening of 1Utama, there were not many nearby shopping malls around so all and sundry tend to do a lot of shopping there.

“Besides eating places like Esquire Kitchen and KFC, other places of interest were the games stores that the guys liked and Pay Less Books where book lovers could walk out with an armful of cheap books,” said Ee Koon.

She is a little sad that there would be no more Atria.

“It was a neighbourhood landmark for so many people for many years, but everything seems to be giving away in the name of development and profit-making.

“Atria was not the greatest mall with the coolest new clothes or the shiniest gadgets, but it was a place with familiar shops and everything seemed a little less impersonal compared to the mega-sized malls these days,” she added.

For those who had loved Atria, it is farewell for good.

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