It’s a mall world after all
Seventeen more malls are all set to keep mall rats happy, reports PRIYADARSHINI PAITANDY
PHOTOS: V. GANESAN and R. SHIVAJI RAO
Be it a lazy Sunday, or one of those after work hang-out sessions, shopping for that pretty pink dress or that footwear you eyed your colleague wearing, catching up with a friend over a cup of coffee, window shopping or just aimlessly sauntering arou
nd — malls seem to be the best place to head to, what with everything available under one roof.
But the only bummer is when there aren’t enough malls and you have to frequent the same old places time and again.
Ever since Spencer’s Plaza and Citi Centre happened to Chennai, the other malls have been ‘near-dead’. Many people have admittedly spent hours together at these two places because of lack of choice. But, now there’s happy news for all compulsive shoppers — Chennai is coming up with at least 17 more multi-storied malls and shopping centres.
According to Ramesh Nair, Managing Director, Chennai, of global property consultancy firm Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj: “Around 17 new malls totalling 8.5 million square feet are expected to be operational in the next three-and-a-half years. The majority of these malls are located in the CBD, Old Mahabalipuram Road, GST Road and Velachery.”
However, the most prominent and centrally located ones are Express Avenue, Chennai Central and Ampa Mall. Being built on an area of 10 acres, Express Avenue is a property of Express Infrastructure and will house not just a mall but also a leading hotel, office space and a multiplex with six or seven screens. Right in the middle of Patullos Road and scaffolded by corrugated metal sheets with ‘EA’ inscribed on them, this building, which has been under construction for sometime now, has generated a lot of interest.
Reluctant to give more information about it, all that the Chief Financial Officer, Express Infrastructure, would reveal is: “The movie screens will be run by one of Chennai’s well-known cinema groups. Around five to six floors will be allotted to a hotel and the offices; the mall will occupy four floors.” The mall will cater to both middle and upper middle class and will have a parking area of six lakh square foot. Express Avenue will be open to the public by 2009.
Set on 48,000 square feet and vying with the designer boutiques on Khader Nawaz Khan Road will be Chennai Central Mall. “It is a joint venture between SSPDL Ltd. and Pantaloons and should be ready in another two-and-a-half year’s time,” says Balaji Narasimhan, Assistant General Manager-Marketing, SSPDL Ltd.
Central started operations around four years ago in Bangalore and branched out to Pune, Vadodara, Gurgaon and Hyderabad, before coming to Chennai. “It will house around 200 national and international brands, a Food Bazaar and maybe, a lounge bar too,” says Rajesh Seth, Marketing Head, Central-Bangalore.
Nearing completion and all set to woo the crowds is Ampa Mall on Nelson Manickam Road. According to sources, the mall, spread over three acres, boasts a hypermarket, three floors of retail space, a seven-screen multiplex, food mall, fine dining restaurants and a 20-room boutique hotel. And, PVR Cinemas makes it entry into Chennai through Ampa. Westside and Spencer’s Hypermarket will be among the other players in this mall.
Citing the reason for the sudden increase in the number of malls in Chennai, Ramesh Nair says, “Chennai has been the pioneer in organised retail from the early 1990s. The penetration of organised players, especially in the food segment, is quite high. The economy is doing well; disposable incomes have increased. A number of new companies in the IT and manufacturing sectors are investing in India. There has been a shift in the mentality from saving to spending. Cashing in on these trends, national players such as DLF and South Indian majors such as Prestige, Shriram, Ozone and local players Marg, Ampa and Allied have zeroed in on this city.”
Well then, with so many exciting options coming into play, shopaholics such as 18-year-old Abhishek are rejoicing. “There aren’t too many places for my friends and me. We can’t go to the pubs or discs, so restaurants and malls are the only options. New malls mean new places to hang out in,” he grins.
“It is high time Chennai got a few more malls and I am eagerly awaiting them. With most people flocking to Spencer’s and Citi Centre, they have become too crowded. Also, the more the malls, the more the options,” says 24-year-old Harsha.
But then there are a few such as Sagarika who feel good old Spencer’s will continue to rock, no matter what. “Spencer’s will remain to be my favourite mall. It has something for everyone, right from expensive Guess clothing and Omega watches to reasonable 100-buck tops and footwear,” she adds.
Send this article to Friends by