Of the plans of the newly elected TN Government go well, then Khader Nawaz Khan Road at Nungambakkam would be headed for a retail revival. the 1 km stretch which starts diagonally opp The Taj Coromandel Hotel, had over 100 retail stores, cafes and marquee restaurants at one point in time including the city’s only Louis Vuitton store. This, along with most others had to shut down due to civic issues on one side and neighbourhood crisis on the other hand, with many complaining parking challenges (alongside the road) and disturbances.
The Chennai Smart City Project, which had completed the pedestrian plaza at the city’s eponymous Pondy Bazaar shopping area, has embarked on an ambitious Rs. 18 Crore project to spuce up this area which could eventually, if done well can mimic similar shopping, dining and entertainment zones of Paris or London. “Every street in the city has unique identity and characterestics. We have proposed to highlight them using infrastructure such that residents get to experience the city”, said Mr. Raj Cherubal, CEO, Smart City Private Ltd. adding that the idea was to create a pedestrian friendly street that was well lit, safe and is inclusive.
Retail rent in this area climbed from Rs. 80 per sft around 2005 to upwards of Rs. 300 per sft during its peak in 2012. Slowly, the stretch had a number of civic and infrastructure issues including road laying works which caused traffic problems after which the stretch was made a one-way directional road for a while. Slowly, restaurants started shutting down since the rent was not possible to be absorbed within the business costs and eventually some of the top brands also moved out of the area. It must be noted that the city’s first Barista cafe which opened in 2000s is still operational and also has CCD and Starbucks within a stone’s throw distance.