CHENNAI: Despite the possibility of bringing in around `20 crore in revenue annually, many of the city corporation’s shopping complexes, even those in prime locales, have no takers. Reason? They are in various stages of deterioration.
During the recent city-wide rental auction of 117 empty shops in areas including Alwarpet, RA Puram and Teynampet, less than half (53) were auctioned out. Senior corporation officials told TNIE that they are looking for dates for further auctions.
A visit to the corporation’s shopping complexes showed a lack of maintenance. Most of these buildings are without functional toilets and access to top floors. With a maximum rent of `80 per sq ft but with limited facilities and impacted businesses after the pandemic, almost all shops on the first and second floors of these complexes were vacant.
In RA Puram, tenants said only those on the ground floor who have held on to the space for decades chose to stay. “We have had the shop for around 30 years now and our customers are used to this place, so we have stayed here. None of our customers can use the toilet though as there is no water connection and the building has not had an exterior repainting in years,” said Sivarajan (name changed), who has a 200 sq ft shop on the ground floor in RA Puram. He pays a rent of `22,000 with taxes, he said. Most shops in the complex were of 180-200 sq ft area. Only three shops in the complex were taken in the recent auction.
The stairway was dark even during the day and was run down with damaged floors and some were using the space before the staircase for parking. “At least, we are on the ground floor. Nobody is willing to pay for the first and second floors. The complex was full around four years back, but now except for the ground floor, everything is vacant. There was a clothing store on the first floor but women were scared to use the stairway even during the day, let alone after sunset. They vacated soon after,” said Sarthak (name changed), another business owner in the complex.
Another long-time business owner who has a shop in Alwarpet said after the rent was increased three years ago, most businesses vacated the premises and the spaces decayed without maintenance. A revenue official, on condition of anonymity, said the properties could not be maintained due to the lack of funds and in many cases, rents are not paid for months.
Most owners vacated after rent was hiked
A long-time business owner who has a shop in Alwarpet said after the rent had been increased three years ago, most businesses vacated the premises and the spaces decayed without maintenance.