Mumbai-based upmarket mall developer Phoenix Mills and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board have teamed up to build what could potentially be one of the largest retail malls in Calcutta, promising to host the “best of domestic and international brands”.
The mall will come up in Alipore on a 7.48-acre plot located near the junction of Diamond Harbour Road and Judges Court Road and have the potential leasable area of 1 million square foot in the first phase.
The project, which will call for an investment of Rs 600 crore (excluding the value of the land), is slated to be ready by the second half of 2024. CPP Investments, which manages funds totalling $ 411.6 billion as on March 31, 2021, is going to have a 49 per cent stake in the venture.
The development will also mark the first entry of a national player and a large international private equity fund into the city’s mall space, which has so far been dominated by city-based builders.
Real estate experts say the project would be a “big positive” for Calcutta and may attract more national players and institutional investors to look at the city favourably.
Phoenix and CPP will channelise their investment through a company called Mindstone Mall Developers Pvt Ltd. Atul Ruia, the chairman of The Phoenix Mills Limited (PML), said the project would establish the company’s footprint into eastern India in association with CPP.
“This investment bears testament to the attractive long-term prospects of our robust business model of creating destination consumption hubs in key cities of India,” Ruia said in a statement.
Shishir Shrivastava, managing director at PML, explained why the company chose Alipore, city’s toniest neighbourhood, for the upcoming mall.
“We believe that the site’s proximity to established and developing micro-markets, through extensive and well-developed civic infrastructure, provides us with ample opportunity to cater to the region’s significant untapped consumption potential,” Shrivastava said in the statement.
Noting that Bengal is a significant consumption hub, he continued to add that the mall would be designed by international architects with large and modern open public spaces that would be integral to the customer experience in Calcutta’s largest retail centre.
“We intend to host the best of domestic and international brands, representing all categories of consumer wallet spend,” he added, indicating that the mall would host both luxury and premium brands.
The plot, which was bought for Rs 300 crore, translates to a price tag of Rs 40 crore an acre. Raghav Bajoria, development director, of PML, explained why it was a good buy at a premium neighbourhood. “The site is strategically located to provide excellent frontage, coupled with superior visibility and connectivity,” Bajoria said.
Jitendra Khaitan, chairman and managing director of Pioneer Property Management Ltd, said the mall would potentially cater to a vast catchment area which would extend all the way up to Behala, Howrah and even north Calcutta, thanks to the Maa flyover. “Phoenix is known for their open space development and the mall, backed by a national player and a reputable PE fund, would be a big positive for the city,” Khaitan said.
That the city has so far missed the radar of international investors into realty was evident from the comment of the CPP head. “We are pleased to further expand our relationship with The Phoenix Mills, a pioneer in India’s retail property sector, to develop and own a premium retail centre in an underserved market,” Hari Krishna, managing director, real estate - India, CPP Investments, said.
The development comes at a time when malls in general are going through rough patch in India. They were among the last to come out from the phased lockdown last year and also first to go in during the sporadic restrictions put up by various states.
The planned investment goes to show that developers and fund managers still believe that brick-and-mortar retail story in India is still alive despite the pandemic and increasing consumers’ preference towards online marketplaces, realty experts noted.