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Phoenix rising

March 17, 2008

This was around the time— around the mid-90s—when advertising agencies and media houses were giving up their old and tatty office spaces in the commercial district of South Mumbai to move to the new and swanky Tulsi Pipe Road, Parel, in the centre of the city. Those who found the notion of Parel too down-market referred to this area as “Upper Worli.” Madison Avenue met Fleet Street, and everyone was happy.

Atul & Gayatri Ruia: Sprucing it up
Atul & Gayatri Ruia
A crucial piece of this emerging new picture was the over 100-year-old Phoenix Mills, a part of which had been remodelled into an urban haven of commerce and entertainment. First came the restaurants, bowling alleys and the nightclubs. These were followed by modern retail formats, with Big Bazaar, Pantaloons, Lifestyle and Quorum (now Skyzone) collectively forming High Street Phoenix. By this time, only 30 per cent of the entire mill was developed.

It’s now time for the Phoenix to rise the third time. Says Atul Ruia, Joint Managing Director, The Phoenix Mills Ltd: “Threefour years ago, we realised that Phoenix needed a refit so it could keep pace with the future. We’ve put in a lot of infrastructure by way of a new multiplex, and parking spaces; we’ve changed our shopping mall, and we’re also putting up a hotel.” The 25-acre (or 1 million sq ft) space was shut down phase by phase to upgrade, refurbish and relaunch. The hotel in question is a luxury-business 400-plus key room affair called the Shangri-La. Ruia surmises that by end-2009, 70 per cent of the High Street Phoenix-to-come will have risen (including the Shangri-La). The cost? Rs 800 crore, which is coming from internal accruals.

Deepti Khanna Bose

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