Lying defunct for seven years, the AP Gems and Jewellery Park located on a two acre land on Road No. 10, Banjara Hills, will finally open as a gems and lifestyle mall by the end of the year.
The Malaysia-based project developer, IOI Corporation, had given the contract to revamp, develop and market the gems and lifestyle venture to Gitanjali Infrastructure in April this year. The plan includes pumping in another Rs 6 crore to add that elusive glitter to a building that was meant to be a one stop shop for the sparkling jewellery industry with local and international brands setting shop here.
Those involved in the gems park’s facelift say the work will be over by the year-end when it will be thrown open to the public. The project officials said they would start marketing it soon to attract traders to set shop on the park premises. And now it wouldn’t be a plain Jane `only-jewels’ venture, but would include luxury lifestyle items.
The jewellery park building sitting on prime property and built at a cost of Rs 57 crore, had been gathering dust since 2005 when its construction was over. The IOI Corporation and Andhra Pradesh Trade Promotion Corporation (APTPC) started the venture in 2002 with the latter holding 11% stake in it, the rest shared between IOI and private financial institutions. But the AP Gems and Jewellery Park Pvt. Ltd., with six directors and a project advisor in Suresh Chukkapalli’s Phoenix Group did not take off despite offering a commercial lease rate of Rs 75 per sqft. “The local jewelers found cheaper lease deals outside (the park) and the international names did not come seeing that local traders were also being entertained,” said a source.
While the government had told the project’s bidders that 60% of the park’s space would be lapped up in no time when the building came up in 2005, only 25% of its total space could be leased, too insignificant a rental to run the mammoth enterprise. The result? The building remained nonfunctional.
“We were in talks with the government for the past five years to change the status of the mall to lifestyle where we could have both jewellery showrooms along with highend luxury brands. The sanction was given in 2009,” said Srikant Badiga, the project director of Gems and Jewellery Park and an official of Phoenix Group. Sources say the project developers have pinned their hope on Gitanjali’s brand name, which also has a gems and jewellery SEZ in Shamshabad.