Bandar Utama is an affluent residential township located within the Damansara subdivision of the Petaling district in the state of Selangor, Malaysia. It is a residential suburb and home to the popular 1 Utama Shopping Centre.
|This article is outdated. (November 2010)|
As of 2004 it is estimated that there are 59,040 people residing in Bandar Utama. The primary residents appear to be Chinese followed by Indian and Malay. However, there were nearby squatter settlements of illegal immigrants in the neighbouring Kayu Ara village which is enclosed by Bandar Utama and Damansara Utama. They have now mostly been relocated to nearby low-cost flats and their squatter houses demolished to make way for legal developments.
Until 1991, the Bandar Utama area was originally consisted of palm oil estates with a population fewer than 100 people. Development of Bandar Utama began in the early 1990s under the company named See Hoy Chan Holdings Sdn. Bhd., and an attempt to modernise the area was made, with the opening of Sri Pentas, TV3's broadcast centre which was opened in 1995 and officially opened in October 1996, as well as the 1 Utama Shopping Centre, which became increasingly well known after the Jaya Jusco chain of department stores shifted one of its outlets from nearby Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur to Bandar Utama in 1995.
With the opening of several new schools in 1997 and 1998, as well as the establishment of Kolej Bandar Utama, a tertiary institution, Bandar Utama continued to grow. In 2004, additional residential precincts of BU7, BU10 and BU6 (comprising 2½-storey houses) were completed. These are newer sections of Bandar Utama compared to the older sections, BU1 until BU4, which were completed in phases beginning from 1991 until 1996.
Bandar Utama is roughly 1000 acres (4 km²) in size, and is divided into 12 sections ranging from BU1 to BU12. These sections are served by roads, e.g. Jalan BU2/5 where "Jalan" is a Malay word meaning road, BU2 is the section and 5 is the road number. Houses on one side of the road are numbered evenly, and the other side are numbered oddly, so one side of a road will consist of houses 2, 4, 6, 8 and so forth while the opposite will have houses numbered 1, 3, 5, 7 and so on.
A bridge over the Sprint Expressway joins the two parts of Bandar Utama, sections BU1 until BU10 and BU11 with BU12, which are separated by the expressway.
To go to Bandar Utama, via the northbound route of New Klang Valley Expressway (NKVE), you should see the 1 Tech Park (formerly the Sony building) on your left, right after the toll plaza. Continue straight, all the way down until you see an intersection on your left leading to Damansara Jaya. Make a U-turn here and continue. Just before you see the toll booth again, go up the ramp on your left. At the traffic light you can opt to turn left to go to BU11/BU12 or to turn right to head to the BU1 until BU10.
If coming from the Damansara-Puchong Expressway (LDP), look out for Taman Tun Dr Ismail on your left. When you see the intersection leading to it on your left, turn right instead towards the 1 Utama shopping centre, and Bandar Utama. If coming from the opposite direction, look out for the pink facade of 1 Utama on your left and turn left at the appropriate intersection.
Places of worship
Until today, there is no church in Bandar Utama. Most Charismatics opt for Grace Assembly which is located in Taman SEA (SEA Park) or Damansara Utama Methodist Church, which is in Seksyen 13. Roman Catholics tend to worship at the Church of St. Ignatius, near Kampung Cempaka (Cempaka Village) or Kristus Aman, located in Taman Tun Dr Ismail.
Buddhists can join the Bandar Utama Buddhist Society, now operating from their new temple at No. 3, Jalan BU 3/1.
There are 3 national primary schools, a Chinese primary school (Puay Chai 2) and a Tamil primary school. Also there are four secondary schools in Bandar Utama. The first primary school was opened near BU12 in 1998, but as of 2004 had begun to languish due to the opening of primary schools on the other side of Bandar Utama.
The first secondary school SMK Bandar Utama was also opened around the same time. The school has enjoyed an increase in media coverage particularly due to their performance in the annual The Star National Best School Newspaper Competition; in which the 2003 class of 4 Adil won runner-up. This includes a recent Student Exchange Programme held between Phuay Chai Secondary School, Singapore and SMK Bandar Utama which had gained the approval from the Ministry Of Education with the aim to foster stronger relations between the schools in its neighbouring countries. This programme had also been highlighted in stuff@school pullout of The Star newspaper.
In early 2007, the school beat SMK Bandar Utama Damansara (4) and SMK Damansara Jaya in the Tan Sri Datuk Wira Abdul Rahman Arshad cup; in the first and second rounds. Against SMK Damansara Jaya, the school's third speaker was named Best Speaker. The school's Drama Team landed third place at the Drama competition for the Damansara zone; with their comedy The Poser Dilemma.
There is a propensity for some parents to school their children outside Bandar Utama, particularly for those living on the BU11/BU12 side, who tend to send their children to the Tropicana primary or secondary schools in Sunway Damansara, or the highly reputed primary and secondary schools at Damansara Utama and Damansara Jaya.
There is also KBU International College (KBU), a private tertiary institution and LEA English Centre for language institution.
For early childhood development centre or kindergarten, there are plenty of centres available, such as Smart Reader Kids Bandar Utama which is located at the corner lot of Jalan BU6/12.
There is a community centre completed in the year 2005 situated between BU6 and BU3 next to Puay Chai 2 school. This community centre contains a community hall, a football (soccer) field, basketball/volleyball court and a few indoor badminton courts. It was built as a trade-off for not building low-cost houses. Many residents like to play games at the facilities.
Residents of Bandar Utama tend to shop at the 1 Utama shopping mall, the largest in Malaysia. 1 Utama is located at the far end of the BU1 until BU10 side (right along the Damansara-Puchong Expressway), and quite a distance from BU11 and BU12. It is tenanted by almost every international brand, and some two large cineplexes with a total of 24 screens. A significant number of international tourists also shop at 1 Utama. It has been well patronised since its opening in 1995, allowing it to more than double its size since then. As of 2004, it spans more than 5,000,000 square feet (460,000 m2), making it one of the largest malls in Malaysia.
Centrepoint Bandar Utama, a much smaller commercial complex is also frequented by those who do not feel like travelling to the far end of Bandar Utama. It is located in the heart of the neighbourhood, and is much more cosy than 1 Utama. It thrives in particular on officeworkers in a hurry having their lunch breaks, as well as students from the three secondary schools within walking distance of it, who dislike the food provided by the school canteens for lunch. It is also right next to a McDonald's drive-through franchise.
A Tesco outlet, the Ikano Power Centre, the Curve mall and the largest Ikea outlet in Southeast Asia were opened in the adjacent township of Mutiara Damansara. This has provided even more choices to the residents of Bandar Utama. There are also free bus services from the Curve to Bintang Walk, and from 1 Utama to Sri Hartamas.
Covered parking in 1 Utama is RM2 for the first 4 hours, and RM 1.00 for every subsequent hours. 1 Utama no longer accepts Touch n Go cards. They have instead implemented their own system called the OneCard. The OneCard can be used to access the Preferred Parking zone located at the new wing on Level 3, which charges slightly more. There is also Platinum parking on the ground floor of the new wing that is accessible using the Platinum Card (RM10 for the whole day). The open air parking is at a flat rate of RM1 per entry. They have reinstated a free pass-through for the car park if you are parking or passing through the car park for less than 15 minutes.
Centrepoint introduced new parking fees effective 1 April 2006. On weekdays, the first hour is free of charge. The second and third hours are charged at 50 sen each, and the following hours at RM1 each. There is no charge for entry after 6pm on weekdays, and all day for weekends and public holidays. You do not need to validate your parking ticket if you are exiting within the free parking timeframe allocated.
There are frequent bus transfers to and from the Kelana Jaya LRT station at 30-minute intervals at the New Wing bus stop. There are also RapidKL busses serving the area connecting Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya (the new central governmental administrative centre of Malaysia).
The ramp heading downwards from the NKVE flyover (connecting both sides of Bandar Utama) to Tropicana and the Damansara NKVE toll has since been closed for construction work. To get to the toll booth, you will have to take the KL-bound exit and make a U-Turn at the Damansara Jaya exit, keeping in mind not to go on the flyover passing over the nearest U-Turn.
There is a 5-star hotel completed in 2007 named One World Hotel. There are 438 rooms in the hotel located next to Sri Pentas.
Bandar Utama, like most of Damansara, falls under the jurisdiction of the Majlis Bandaraya Petaling Jaya (Petaling Jaya City Council). Like the rest of Damansara, it too falls under the parliamentary constituency of Subang, and thus is represented in parliament by Sivarasa a/l K. Rasiah. In the State Assembly of Selangor it is represented by Wong Keat Ping of the Parti KeADILan Rakyat political party under the constituency of Bukit Lanjan.