JAYA Supermarket, once the place to be in this town, is still fondly remembered by Petaling Jaya folk.
After being closed since 2009 for redevelopment, the shopping centre in Section 14 is set to reopen its doors on April 28.
It was first built in 1974 and underwent a few renovations before it was finally marked for redevelopment in 2008. During the demolition process on May 28, 2009, the building collapsed.
The redesigned property, now called Jaya Shopping Centre, is finally complete and received the Certificate of Completion and Compliance (CCC) in early March.
It has seven levels with more than 180 retail lots in various zones. It has also secured over 80% tenant occupancy.
About 30% of former Jaya Supermarket tenants will move back while the rest of the tenants are new.
The tenants include Cold Storage, Nelson Corn-In-A-Cup, TGV Cinema, Adidas, Best Denki, Brewball Pool & Karaoke, The Body Shop, CIMB Bank, Chili’s Grill & Bar Restaurant, Cobay, Hing’s Watch, Original Classics and Toys ‘R Us, established local retailers and entrepreneurs offering fashion and apparel, accessories, home curious and sporting equipment.
Most long-time Petaling Jaya residents are excited about the upcoming reopening.
There will be an official launch at a later date.
DOWN MEMORY LANE
When he was a teenager, Lee Chen-Yoong, 30, used to take bus number 12 and head to Jaya Supermarket after school hours.
It was his favourite place to lepak (hang out) in the 1990s.
“I pierced my ears without my parents’ knowledge while my friend pierced his nose at one of the push-cart stalls in Jaya Supermarket,” said Lee, who is a former SMK Sultan Abdul Samad Petaling Jaya student.
During his teenage years, Lee frequented the gaming arcade at the top floor of the shopping centre too.
The journalist’s fond memories of the supermarket still remains fresh.
Like him, many others have their fair share of memories of Jaya Supermarket.
Some claim they were upset and devastated when the mall was closed for redevelopment works.
Yasmin Ahmad, 25, said her parents bought her several wrist watches from Hing’s Watch when she was a child.
“I still wear the Tissot that my parents gave me for my 14th birthday,” said Yasmin, who has been wearing the watch for more than 10 years.
Yasmin and her older sister pierced their ears when they were eight and 13 respectively at the Poh Kong Jewellery located in the shopping centre.
“The Cable Car restaurant was another tenant at the former Jaya Supermarket, that served good beef stroganoff,” recalled Yasmin, who was devastated when she heard the neighbourhood mall was closing down.
Christina Low, 31, who used to be a part-time barista at Starbucks in Jaya, also bought several watches from Hing’s.
She said it was “the popular” place to go after school hours, especially for former students of SRK Kampung Tunku, SMK Sri Aman, SMK (L) Bukit Bintang and SMK (P) Assunta since the 1980s.
N. Theresa said she especially remembered the smell of Famous Amos cookies at the mall.
“I was treated to the Famous Amos cookies after piercing my ears for the first time at Poh Kong. That distinct aroma wafted through the building, right along a grand spiralling stairway that held pictures of Jaya Supermarket and how it used to look way back in the 1970s,” she said.
Lim C.Y. said she used to go to the shopping centre for her dental check-up.
“I wore braces and then retainers during my primary school years,” said Lim, adding that it could get quiet on the upper floors.
Corn served in a cup was a new idea introduced by Datuk Nelson Kwok in 1985 at Jaya Supermarket.
Kwok said over the years he had bonded with the community and the tenants.
He looks forward to resuming his business at the new Jaya Shopping Centre and continue the bond with the tenants there.
“The Nelson’s Corn-In-A-Cup brand has strong memory ties with the local community. Jaya is a different business ground for me due to the nostalgia we, the business owners, and shoppers hold till today.
“It records the lives of generations. I would love to go back to Jaya and not to forget the strategic location and potential market,” he said.
Hing’s Watch Sdn Bhd director Jack Yee said Jaya Supermarket was his playground while his parents ran the watch store.
His father, Yee Wah Hing, was the founder of the business and there was a close relationship between the owner and the customers.
“We are known for our personalised and thoughtful service.
“We know our customers and we will go the extra mile to ensure they are satisfied with their purchase. The close ties between business operators and shoppers make Jaya a special business ground,” said Jack.
He added that Hing’s Watch would like to return to Jaya Shopping Centre to continue serving its loyal customers and to welcome new ones.
Jaya Section 14 Sdn Bhd director Ismail Ani Arope said Jaya Shopping Centre would help to “revive” the Section 14 area.
The mature neighbourhood will benefit from the development of the shopping centre, he added.
“We all know how much Jaya Shopping Centre means to the locals; how it was a source of comfort, inspiration and pride. We are conscious that the standard has been raised by a more sophisticated and affluent market with high expectations,” he said.
He added that the redevelopment was necessary and would prevent unsavoury business.
According to Ismail, about 30% of the tenants are former tenants of Jaya Supermarket and the rest are new.
“The new tenants are creative and will put forth some interesting business ideas.
“We want to support some of the smaller businesses. If we look at the past, the first Cold Storage, MPH bookstore, Nelson’s Corn-In-A-Cup and Hing’s Watch were all in Jaya Supermarket,
“These businesses later flourished and are successful.
“We hope to provide an affordable platform to new entrepreneurs,” he said.
The interior design of the centre is based on the “race course” layout, which will give customers good visibility of all outlets.
Smaller units measuring between 13.9sqm and 63.17sqm will be available on the higher floors of the shopping centre.
Ismail said that as a test run, Jaya Shopping Centre had opened its carpark to the public at a special flat rate of RM5 daily.
“We want to ensure that when we open, our well-planned ingress and egress car lanes built parallel to Jalan 14/17 and Jalan Dato Jamil Rais 15, will ease traffic congestion.” he said.
The shopping centre’s carpark will have five floors of parking lots with 780 parking bays.
Section 14 Petaling Jaya Residents Association chairman Dr Mohan Mahatheva was more concerned about the overdevelopment in the neighbourhood.
He said the housing area had several prominent business centres such as Digital Mall and Jaya Shopping Centre and Mohan felt the neighbourhood is “hit” by overdevelopment.
“The Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) speaks of sustainable development but on the other hand, there seems to be overdevelopment here,” he said.
He hoped grouses such as cracked house walls due to the construction of Jaya Shopping Centre would be addressed soon by those responsible.
“A row of houses in Section 14 have cracks on their porch since the demolition and redevelopment of Jaya Shopping Centre.
“The issue was highlighted in the media several years ago. We hope this will be rectified soon,” he said.