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Centre of action beyond city limits
- Mixed-use project to spur township progress

The big boys of IT are setting up shop here. The EM Bypass, Calcutta’s fastest growing spine, is at arm’s length. Phase I of New Town, Rajarhat, is nearing completion. Still, Salt Lake is woefully short of places to shop, relax, have a bite, go to a movie, or simply hang out, feel most residents.

City Centre, the 550,000-sq-ft mixed-use project, scheduled to open up early next year, will pitchfork this sleepy satellite township into the limelight, acting as an anchor to spur allied infrastructure development in Salt Lake, feel the developers.

“Like a magnet, it will draw visitors from all over Calcutta, creating the need for development in and around the area,” says Harsh Neotia, director, Bengal Ambuja Metro Development Ltd (BAMDL), the company building the shopping-entertainment-residential project.

Neotia feels City Centre will give people enough reasons to come to Salt Lake, thus connecting the township in a “more integral sense” to the rest of the city. Charles Correa, for whom this is the first public signature design in Calcutta, had recently spoken about a possible shift in the city’s centre of gravity once the project is up and running.

The developers are discussing with the CMDA infrastructure requirements in the township, in terms of public transport, roads, security arrangements and the traffic it will generate. “We are in dialogue with the CMDA and it has given us the verbal go-ahead to beautify and illuminate the areas around the perimeter,” says Neotia.

Residents are also upbeat about City Centre, hoping that the Inox cineplex and a host of dining and shopping options will transform the area into a happening satellite city, like Gurgaon and Noida. “During evenings, there is often nothing to do in Salt Lake. City Centre will add a dash of much-needed excitement to our lives,” says advocate Jnanendra Nath Banerjee, who lives in the township.

Apart from adding physical value to the area through its architectural aesthetics and illumination, the development is also expected to have a cascading effect on transport linkages in Salt Lake. The central plaza will replicate the romance of the traditional bazaar in a present-day environment, comprising a long sequence of medium-sized shops, stocking stuff ranging from the mundane to the exotic — a place to browse, bargain and buy.

Small utility shops, like the tailor’s or the hardware merchant’s, will cater to the neighbourhood, alongside organised retailing, to create an “interesting energy” of entrepreneurial skills. BAMDL officials are also considering proposals to house outlets of the numerous small, traditional eateries that dot the city.

Shoppers’ Stop, the 57,000-sq-ft anchor at City Centre, will be the garment chain’s largest store in the country, according to officials, with brands like Pizza Hut, Wrangler and Nike adding to the big-format shopping experience.

The developers are confident City Centre will be a logistically-convenient middle-point for the large catchment basin that stretches from Ultadanga to beyond the airport and along the periphery of the Bypass.

— Subhro Saha

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