The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Build below to rise above

Around 2.5 million sq ft of new space in the heart of the city for 2,000 shops, offices, entertainment centres, cinema halls and eateries. That is the Rs 70-crore dream mayor Subrata Mukherjee has for the New Market area.

But on the surface of things, New Market, promises the mayor, will stay unchanged, classic fa'ade firmly in place.

Hoping to capitalise on the Parkomat while keeping the face of century-old heritage structure intact, the mayor has decided that the future lies underground.

The two zones of development, covering around seven bighas underground as well as on the surface, will be in the area outlined by Lindsay Street, Bertram Street, Corporation Place and Market Street.

The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) is planning a joint venture with private collaborators.

First, New Market ' the largest of 23 civic markets in the city, housing 6,000 shops ' will be developed by a private partner into a centrally air-conditioned complex.

The interiors will be refurbished, including a repair of the dilapidated floors, walls and roof, fresh coats of plaster and paint, new marble and tiles for the floors, toilets, a cafeteria and drinking water supply.

The walls and roof of areas including the fish and flower ranges, now dilapidated and deemed unsafe, will be transformed into glass enclosures.

'Investment in the development of New Market is not economically viable in itself. It is also not possible to change the existing character of the building, as it is a heritage structure,' said the mayor.

'But we cannot leave it vulnerable to decay. Hence, we have no alternative but to offer underground expansion of the area to attract private parties,' he added.

The New Market makeover will cost Rs 25 crore.

In exchange for this, the CMC is offering bait in the form of half-a-bigha of land adjacent to New Market (at the crossing of Market Street and Korabardan Lane), to build a six-storeyed (three underground and three above) shopping mall.

It will be connected through an underground tunnel to the subterranean four-bigha-plus Chaplin Park complex, where more shops and an entertainment zone ' straddling three floors, complete with bowling alley, discotheque and multiplex.

The park above will remain a green zone.

The two complexes are expected to be less than 100 ft apart, as they will be broader under the ground level.

But the project will only be finalised when concept proposals come in from potential partners.

'The plans are almost complete and we will invite proposals from private builders in a couple of weeks to take up the project on a build-operate-transfer basis,' said Mukherjee.

This means the partner will finish construction, sell the new space and manage it for at least 30 years before handing it over to the CMC.

After a series of delays, the Lindsay Street Parkomat will be commissioned by the Pujas, along with a small, underground commercial complex.

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