The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Off train tracks, to retail racks
- Delhi developer keen to exploit mall potential of Metro Railway stations

Hop off the train and pick up your provisions or a surprise gift for the little one. You could even replenish your wallet at the ATMs and doggy-pack some TV dinner. All this, before you emerge from down under.

Parsvnath Developers Ltd, which is developing 2.2 million sq ft of retail space in and around 10 stations of the Delhi Metro, is now keen to do organised retail linked to the Calcutta Metro.

The group's prime focus: the 22-ft clearance between the concrete Metro shell and the road level that lies totally unutilised.

'We have been associated with the Metro Rail Corporation in the Capital to develop retail malls linked to stations on a BOT (build-operate-transfer) basis. The Calcutta underground offers a readymade opportunity to do integrated retail, with the idle shell as the spine, supported by the surplus land in and around the stations,' Pradeep Jain, chairman of the Delhi-based group, told Metro on Tuesday.

Parsvnath, which has invested over Rs 800 crore in ambient retail and two prime residential projects linked to the Delhi underground, would like to take up all 17 stations of the Calcutta Metro to develop retail space in various formats, from integrated malls to supermarkets to multi-brand outlets.

'Our survey has shown that on an average, each station on the Calcutta tube trail would yield at least 20,000 to 30,000 sq ft of space where formatted retail can be introduced,' said Pawan Gupta, who has been anchoring the three-month city recce by Parsvnath.

Jain sees a "win-win situation" for all the parties involved - the Metro Rail authorities, the retailer and the consumer. "Our research shows that the entire cost of the Delhi Metro could be recovered through linked retail and real estate activity around the stations. In Calcutta, too, huge revenue can be generated through retail," he stressed.

City-based think-tank organisation Centre for Built Environment (CBE) had earlier pushed a proposal to use the inactive Metro Rail shell as the core to create parking and shopping options between Park Street and Esplanade tube stations.

"Logistically, it's quite simple and doesn't entail any mega construction activity. Whatever little needs to be done could also have been avoided, had the Metro and the city civic authorities put their heads together when the tube rail plan was conceived," architect-planner Unmesh Kirtikar of CBE, the brain behind the model, had said.

Parsvnath officials plan to meet the city Metro authorities soon with a concrete retail-rendezvous proposal, even promising to take responsibility of maintenance of the immediate vicinity and upgrade infrastructure. "The international elevation, sought-after brands, swank eateries and allied entertainment can create invaluable assets, as in the capital," Jain pointed out.

The group's Delhi Metro retail initiative spans the Tis Hazari station with a 60,000-sq-ft, multi-brand outlet on one end of the spectrum and the Seelampur stop at the other, where Parsvnath is creating a "destination" with split-level parking, boating, shopping mall, star hotel, cineplex and a ropeway.

The realtor, currently developing 64 million sq ft pan-India, is keen to take on lease the pillars that punctuate the Metro tracks as well.

"As in Delhi, these pillars can be used for advertisement billboards with the clause that greenery is created around them and the filth cleared,"said Jain.

Parsvnath is also bidding for the 330-acre IT hub between Rajarhat and the airport and is "close to sealing a property in the heart of the city" for a high-end residential condominium project. Destination malls of "over a million sq ft" are also on the cards.

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