THE conversion of land use policy that began in 2005 and was extended in September by another six months has become a source of generating commercial space for a city where lack of space is a perennial problem. Ever since the administration allowed industrial land to be converted to commercial land more than 26 applications have been approved making an area of more than 18 acres available for commercial use.
The commercial area is fragmented over phases I and II ranging from 400 sq yards to over 11,400 sq yards across 26 locations. According to information with ET, of the 26 locations nearly 5 shopping malls or multiplexes are due to come up in 41,200 sq yards area, some of them including 5,700 sq yard Uppal's Centra Mall are nearing completion.
Retail chains such as Big Bazaar, Shoppers Stop, Vishal Megamart and many others are in the fray and are looking for commercial space in the industrial area. "Many deals are taking place where retail chains are talking to land owners for individual spaces and to mall owners for floor by floor commercial space," says a source. A furniture mall is also set to come up in 2,000 sq yard area in Phase II. Other than shopping complexes dealerships for Honda, BMW, Volvo have already come up in more than 8,000 sq yard area, Volvo being the latest entrant and also the third dealership in the country after Delhi and Mumbai. The dealership will sell the S80 and XC90 models. A number of hotel chains are also in talks with plot owners while many have finalised deals and are ready to begin. Sarover Hotels mid-scale brand Homotel will come up in 3,857 sq yard plot in Phase I. The budget hotel will have 117 rooms, a banquet, a bar and a restaurant and will be constructed within 12-13 months at an investment of Rs 20 crore. Ajay Bakaya, executive director of Sarover Hotels, said, "It's a lease of 50 years and we will begin construction as soon as the building plans are approved."
Red Fox Hotels, the limited service, economy brand from Gurgaon-based Lemon Tree Hotels is another entrant in this area. Managing director of Lemon Tree Hotels Patu Keswani had earlier told ET, "Beginning from Chandigarh, we have agreed in principle to acquire a plot of land in Industrial area Phase I to construct a 80-room Lemon Tree Hotel and a 150-room Red Fox Hotel on the site in a joint venture with the present owners. Expected date of completion is January 2010."
The US-based hospitality major Accor Group is also in talks with land owners in Phase I for over 11,400 sq yard area to bring in their mid-scale brand Novotel. Sine Accor has a JV with Emaar MGF, the latter's budget hotel brand Formula 1 is likely to be yet another entrant.
The likes of Reliance Inforcom have utilised the commercial space available in the industrial area while m ore than 25,000 sq yard space is still available for commercial activity.
President of Chandigarh Industrial Association, MPS Chawla said: "The increase in commercial space will help the city to grow.”