The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Enter, city’s one-stop shop for gems
- Nine floors, 37 shops dedicated to JEWELLERY

A “mega mall” dedicated to jewellery. Nine gleaming floors of glittering gems and jewellery, with local, national and international brands on display. Craftsmanship from all over the country — kundan from Jaipur, pearls from Hyderabad, minakari from Bengal — all under one roof. A one-stop shop for jewellery, in the heart of the city, in the “first-of-its-kind” establishment in the country. And it’s all happening right here, in Calcutta.

Number 6, Camac Street, is the destination and Fort Knox is the name. The jewellery mall, being built by the city-based real estate company Fort Group, will house 37 shops, from the ground to the fourth floor, each ranging in size from 600 sq ft to 4,000 sq ft floor space. On the fifth to the eight floors will be 40 offices. Ample parking space, high security and a “world-class” shopping ambience is what its creators are promising. Work has been underway for the past four months, and the opening is slated for September next year, to cash in on the Puja and Diwali dhamaka.

This is an instance of following in the footsteps of the government, says Vivek Kathotia, chairman of Fort Knox. “With Mani Kanchan, the manufacturing unit for jewellers, being planned under the aegis of the state, we thought that there was not only a market, but also a need to provide an outlet. So, about 12 months ago, we came up with the jewellery mall plan,” he says. “Wooing jewellery houses and labels, from around the country and abroad, is an ongoing project and we have already received confirmed bookings for about five or six showrooms.”

Glittering on the inside and attractive from the outside is the aim, with special focus being given to the overall look of the building. Four turrets will lend it the look of a fort, with intricate frill-work giving it aesthetic appeal. And the time is just right for the Rs 20-crore project, claims Ashok Bengani, president of Fort Knox and a member of the Association of Jewellers. “We have conducted a study on this, which shows that Calcutta’s retail industry is booming, with place for more. It’s the third largest growing city in this sector, ahead of Bangalore and Hyderabad. So, we are confident that Fort Knox will be a success.”

Named after the structure that houses the US gold reserve, the safety measures to be put in place include customised high-security shutters for all the shops, alarm systems with instant links to the police headquarters and fire services, sensors to trigger an alarm in case of an attempt to break showroom glasses and smoke detectors with sprinkler systems. For all those who have an office and a showroom in the plaza, CCTV connections between the two will be provided for 24-hour monitoring.

Designed by Espace, winners of the Architect of the Year award in 2001 for another Fort Group construction, a combination of beauty and utility is the plan at Fort Knox, with central air-conditioning, means to maintain temperature control, an atrium, a lobby, elevators and locker space in every store. The ceilings will be higher than the regulation 10 feet, the building is designed to withstand earthquakes, the intercom system will help locate those lost and the water dispensers will contain only mineral water.

This might well be the first jewellery mall in the country, but, if its makers have their way, then it certainly won’t be the last.

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