CHENNAI: While one stumbles on figures like 6000 shops in 142 Shopping Complexes with only a paltry 87 shops unallocated and vacant, it would momentarily suggest that business is flourishing in most of the Shopping complexes run by the Corporation of Chennai. But just one look at most of them would be enough to realise that it is anything but flourishing business.
As one enters the Allikulam Shopping complex, it would seem like a proper book centre with good business. However, the reality is hidden in the second floor where barely a dozen shops out of the 100 available remain open through the day. The rest, as is the case with most such shopping complexes around the city, are not vacant, but used as godowns and warehouses.
With no centralised rent revision for more than a decade, these shops are renewed on a tender released once in three years.
In most cases, they are retained by the original allottees, according to Corporation officials. However, most of the allottees have not sold a single merchandise in years from their shops, but make more than enough to live as rentiers.
“The rent collected doesn’t adhere to the market value of such private shops. It ranges from anywhere between `5 to `20 per sq feet,” said an official from the Land and Estate Department of the Corporation.
“Some of these shops were allotted during the time of MGR and haven’t changed hands since,” adds another official. “Re renting of shops is not allowed and there are frequent checks conducted by our department officials which ranges from once in six months to one year,” adds another official. However, for many of the original allottees, letting out the space for goods storage without actually using the shops for selling anything or renting them out for others to sell is a good way to make money.
“Many of the shops are located in prime business locations such as Kannapar Thidal (Moore Market) or Valluvar Kottam. Storage for many with big businesses around is very essential but most can’t spare usable shop area for storage, which is why it is a good business,” says S Udaya, who runs a book shop at Allikulam Shopping Complex.
A 100 sq feet warehouse area in Kandigai, which is located on the Vandalur Kelambakkam Bypass, almost 40 kms from the city, would cost `2500.
One can imagine how much a 100 sq feet area for storage in Purasaiwalkam or Central would fetch.
With the Department revamp underway in the Corporation, rent rates are expected to be revised soon. The revised rates would be not only for the shopping complexes, but also properties leased out for such meagre sums by the Corporation. However, officials have revealed that fixing area wise rent on par with the market value and its collection would take time.