Parking full, malls in Kolkata carve out more space for cars – Times of India

Kolkata News
KOLKATA: Some of the popular malls in Kolkata are struggling to accommodate customers’ cars in parking lots during weekends. Though footfall is still 40%-50% that of August 2019, the vehicle count is up 20% in the same period following a sharp rise in use of personal vehicles in the wake of the pandemic. While one mall is augmenting its parking facility, another is evaluating the cost of creating a vertical parking lot to tackle the situation.
In at least three malls, parking lots have been chock-a-block by 4pm during the past four-five weekends. That was a rare phenomenon in July-August in the pre-pandemic times when parking demand usually shot up closer to Durga Puja and Diwali.

“The parking space crunch does happen before and during festivals. But given that it has happened this early, it is a cause for concern. We don’t want any shopper to turn away because of a problem with parking. Hence, we have already added 54 slots at the South City International School just behind the mall.
In addition, we have made provision to park 200-odd cars in the driveway around the mall. Thus, we can now park around 1,450 cars at any given point of time. But even that is proving inadequate. Thus, we are making a provision to park an additional 250 cars at the school,” said South City Mall vice-president Manmohan Bagree.
On the other hand, City Centre I in Salt Lake had never made much provision for car parks like Forum (an annexe building was set up subsequently to accommodate more cars), the city’s first mall. It had leased out a little used slip from the Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation to park 350 cars at a time. The absence of further parking space is hurting now. Though a section of customers park their cars in blocks around the mall and then walk over, many are also giving it the skip. While some of them may be returning on a weekday to do the shopping, it is losing other customers. Around 60% of sales are generated between 4pm and 9pm at malls.
“Use of personal vehicles has increased both on account of safety and convenience. While many don’t perceive public transport safe in the current scenario, getting public transport has also become difficult. Moreover, most app cabs now refuse to operate ACs. Thus, we have 15%-20% more shoppers who are arriving in cars. It is forcing us to evaluate vertical parking options,” said Ambuja Neotia Realty whole-time director Ramesh Pandey.
At Mani Square, the car queue on the service road stretches beyond Apollo Hospital on weekend evenings. One of the first malls to set up a separate building for multi-level parking that can accommodate 800 cars, it is proving inadequate at weekends. “We have a substantial car park but it isn’t enough. We have rarely faced such a situation in the past and never this early,” said Mani Group director Sudarshana Gangulee.
At Acropolis and Quest, the situation is slightly better because there are still many people from the neighbourhood who walk in. “There has been an uptick in footfall and corresponding sales. We have been witnessing a spurt in the number of customers coming in their own cars and bikes. The five-level underground parking facility has proved sufficient till now,” said Acropolis mall general manager K Vijayan.
“The average parking time for vehicles at a mall is around two hours. So, vehicles are driving in and out. There are times when the parking gets full. But since many customers at Quest are chauffeur-driven, they alight while the car does the rounds or parks elsewhere,” said Quest vice-president Sanjeev Mehra.