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Chennai's Ramee Mall readies to open doors, finally

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Ramee Mallreadying for launch in the first quarter
Ramee Mallreadying for launch in the first quarter

Ramee Mall occupies half the ground floor and the first floor and the whole of the second. The rest of the building will be Chennai's first Hyatt

R. Ravikumar

Chennai, Nov. 2

When shoppers walk into Ramee Mall early next year, the imposing, 15-storey building that stands on Chennai's arterial road, Anna Salai, would have broken a 15-year jinx to finally bustle with activity.

It was Balaji Hotels and Enterprises Ltd, part of the Balaji Group of Companies, that turned up the earth to lay the foundation for a massive 5-star hotel that Chennai was thirsting for.

But the group got into financial troubles and the construction had to stop before the lenders took over the property.

The shell, bricks zig-zagging across unplastered walls and unrailed staircases, stood still in time until Ramee and the Saraf Group of Hotels came along to buy it from the lenders. While IFCI and TFCI sold the hotel space to Robust Hotels Pvt Ltd, ICICI sold the retail space to Ramee Guestline Hotels.

Opening

Ramee Mall, promoted by the West Asia-based Ramee Guestline Hotels Group, is nearing completion and plans to throw open the doors in the first quarter of 2011. Retailer Shoppers Stop will be the mall's anchor tenant. Shoppers Stop has taken up 50,000 sq.ft, a third of the total space, on lease.

Other potential tenants are queuing up, including a book store that will take up 15,000 sq.ft., says Mr Basil Mathew, General Manager, Marketing, Ramee Mall.

Vanilla stores

Besides large-format stores, there will be 30 vanilla stores — small shops each occupying less than 1,000 sq ft. And, a food court.

Ramee has spent Rs 120 crore on the property.

Ramee Mall occupies half the ground floor and the first floor and the whole of the second.

The rest of the building (600,000 sq ft) will be a hotel — Chennai's first Hyatt.

Robust Hotels

Robust Hotels Pvt Ltd, a special purpose vehicle floated by Saraf Group of Hotels, is also nearing completion and could be soft-launched in the first quarter of 2011.

And when it does, the Hyatt will add 330 rooms to the growing inventory of Chennai's 5-star hotel space.

The city today has 7,600 hotel rooms (across categories) and 4,000 more are being added.

Apart from Hyatt, there is the Grand Dakshin of ITC with 750 rooms, and JW Marriott and Leela Palace with 300 rooms each.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated November 3, 2010)
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