CHL chairman: Covid has not made malls extinct

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Brentwood Mall, Chaguanas. Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

THE covid19 pandemic has not made shopping malls extinct from the economic landscape of any country and they remain prime locations for businesses to thrive and prosper in.

Caribbean Housing Ltd (CHL) chairman Dr Krishna Bahadoorsingh expressed this view at the opening of Brentwood Mall in Chaguanas on Wednesday.

“The major thing about a mall is the location. If you have the proper location and the proper area of land to provide services, it quite likely, in a congested place like Trinidad, that you are likely to succeed.”

But Bahadoorsingh observed that some businesses start up where there is congestion and are not successful.

“The other thing is, malls are not only shopping areas any more. Malls are equally entertainment areas, along with shopping. Shopping may be secondary to a large extent.”

In phase one of the CHL’s malls, most of the businesses that have opened are restaurants.

He also said security is an important component for malls.

“We spent a lot funds on security. We just have to make sure that we can continue being a safe haven.

Lands to the south, between the mall and a newly opened Massy supermarket, are allocated for phases two and three of the mall.

Owner of Caribbean Housing Ltd Krishna Bahadoorsingh, Chaguanas mayor Faaiq Mohammed, Councillor of Edinburgh/Longdenville Janelle-Jo Ryan, and Managing Director of Caribbean Housing Ltd Daran Bahadoorsingh smile for a photo during the launch of the Brentwood Mall in Chaguanas. Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

“We have the lands properly located and it’s a work in progress as to how big (the mall) will be.”

Bahadoorsingh said, “As long as the economy can sustain it, we (CHL) are there to build it.”

On the types of businesses to be accomodated in phases two and three, Bahadoorsingh said, “It will be businesses that we know will satisfy a need in society.”

He hinted that clothing stores, jewellry stores and more entertainment-oriented businesses could be in the expanded mall.

Bahadoorsingh could not say yet what the amount of investment in the mall would be.

“It all depends on the scale. The scale will determine that, and since the scale has not been ascertained as yet, it would be incorrect to give you a figure.”

The mall was 15 years in planning and its construction began in 2017. Bahadoorsingh said the opening was delayed because of the pandemic.

“Covid presented many challenges to us. It also provided many challenges to our prospective tennants.”

He was grateful that over 95 per cent of the mall’s prospective tenants stayed the course.

Raw Health Fitness Health Club, Creme Faiche, Domino’s, D Ranch, Hakka and Excellent Stores are among the businesses already open.

Brentwood Mall, Chaguanas. Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

Bahadoorsingh said CHL does not view mall tenants merely as people who have financial obligations to it as the mall’s owner. He described the relationship between the two as symbiotic.

“We are with you and we will assist you in being successful.”

Chaguanas mayor Faaiq Mohammed and Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce vice-president Baldath Maharaj were confident the mall would bring more commerce and employment opportunities to Chaguanas.

Mohammed was also confident that improved traffic plans for Chaguanas will be worked out with stakeholders in the near future.

Maharaj said the mall provided great opportunities for retail businesses to thrive. He added that retail businesses showed great resilience during the pandemic.

While acknowledging the solution to crime is not simple, Maharaj said the mall offered hope to people seeking meaningful employment and could reduce the risk of their committing crimes.