South City Mall is promoted by South City Projects, Kolkata that has brought together magnates in real estate, harnessing the best in engineering, design, architectural aesthetics and management skills. The directors have an unblemished track record in the construction industry having undertaken and completed more than 100 projects across various parts of Kolkata, other parts of the country and also abroad. Manisha Bapna in an exclusive interview with Manmohan Bagree, Vice President, South City Projects finds out what makes ‘South City Mall’ one of the best malls in the country.
Could you tell us more about the promoters and builders of South City Mall? Why was South Citychosen as a location to build this mall?
South City Mall, a part of a 31.14- acre integrated township, has been developed by a consortium of five venerated real estate players of Eastern India: R.S. Agarwal and R.S. Goenka of the Emami Group, J.K. Khetawat of the Rameswara Group, Pradeep Sureka of the Sureka Group, S.K. Todi of the Shrachi Group, R.K. Bachhawat of the J.B.Group Ltd. and Sushil Mohta of the Merlin Group of Companies. They together formed South City Projects (Kolkata) Ltd., which has given Kolkata some of its landmarks and changed its skyline. Each of the directors have an unblemished track record in the construction industry, having undertaken and completed between them more than 100 projects comprising more than 10 million sq. ft in various parts of Kolkata and also in other parts of the country. Some of their landmark projects include the Metro Plaza, Merlin Residency, Park Plaza, Rameshwara Apartment, and Emami Landmark, et cetera. The mall is located on Prince Anwar Shah Road. The premises also house the South City residential towers, a state-of-the-art international school and a club. The area is conveniently accessible from other parts of the city. South City Mall came into existence in 2008, when there were hardly any malls in this part of the city to cater to the evolving lifestyle needs of theconsumers. The mid-high income bracket consumers residing in the immediate neighbourhood were waking up to the modern-day lifestyle trends, but there were hardly any options they could splurge in. In fact, the easy connectivity of South City Mall with other parts of the city has also helped attract mall-goers in and around the city.
What is the total built-up area of the mall and what is the grossleasable area (GLA)?
South City Mall, the largest mall in Eastern India spread over 1 million sq. ft on Prince Anwar Shah Road, Kolkata, is part of the 31.14-acre South City mixed-used development having 5 residential towers (35-storeyed), an international curriculum school and a stateof- the-art club. The total GLA is approximately 6,35,000 sq. Ft.
Do you think there is enough land space for big malls in India, given the fact that the living space per square foot per person is shrinking?
In the last decade, the spurt in urbanisation and India’s increased fixation with urban living ensured a retail and real estate boom. Factors like higher disposable incomes and evolving consumer needs have kept the cash turnstiles at the malls spinning. The increased proclivity of staying in high-rise premises equipped with the benefits of a mini township also spells wonders for the rise of destination malls. This growth in Tier-I cities is also having a trickledown effect in Tier-II and -III cities, which are increasingly becoming emerging hubs. Retailers are in no mood to miss out these untapped markets. This trend was established by an international standard mall that came up in Kochi recently.
What differentiation does this mall bring to the city of Kolkata in comparison to other malls around, leaving aside its size?
South City symbolises the changing perceptions of the way people have traditionally lived in India. The mall has changed the retail landscape in the city and redefined benchmarks, creating a shopping experience with retail outlets spread over 5 levels, unmatched in the country. South City Mall ardently follows the latest trends in vogue and tries to bring forth the same for the consumer. Not only in fashion and home décor but they have also given a new dimension to eating out and fine dining. In this context, in addition to offering a shopper a bird’s-eye view of 50 per cent of its stores from its atrium, the South City Mall scores by offering each store prime visibility once a shopper moves in its direction. Besides, the mall management has implemented the system of zoning – a scientific mall management process where similar categories of shops are sectioned together in order to develop a world-class shopping environment assuring better visibility of store front and the free flow of shoppers. The mall is now a famous tourist spot and a must-visit destination for out-of-town visitors, as identified by leading consultancy – Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj.
What kind of design and architecture does the mall have?
The central atrium of the mall is designed in a fish shape with ovalshaped fins (wings) fanning out to create a double mall, or double the space for small stores. South Africa based retail specialist architects Bentel International Associates and city architect Dulal Mukherjee are the masterminds behind this novel design, whose aim was to create an ambience of international standards as well as offer shoppers double the shopping space laid out in a fresh manner.
What are the key amenities and facilities provided for shoppers? How is the parking space designed?
South City Mall has applied global standards of mall management starting from proper planning, right tenant mix, synergistic placement, and food and entertainment options to establish a new standard in mall development and management. The mall also endeavours to adhere to the most stringent standards of hygiene and quality. Security strength of over 200 outsourced personnel backed by smart technology through 167 close-circuit camera televisions cover every part of the mall. The mall has the largest multilevel car parking facility with access and entry to every level of the mall. The car park is spread over 9 levels of parking space and has a capacity for 1300 fourwheelers and 500 two-wheelers. The mall has also imbibed the international practice of zoning for retailers, where similar product categories are sectioned together for shoppers’ convenience. Sixmetre wide corridors and fivemetre high true ceiling provide easy movement and add to creating an unparalleled shopping experience.
How do you think is it possible for mall owners to justify their investment and revenues, with the rise in inflation, increasing cost of living and growing cost of infrastructure, et cetera?
In present times, given the current cost of development, it is extremely difficult for both the developer and the retailer to survive and make returns on their investment or generate equivalent revenue. A shopping mall doesn’t look like a viable investment to many developers, unless it has great potential in long term. Mall business is a long-term business and only gives returns on investment if the developer perseveres and delivers continually.