Thursday, July 09, 2020
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Tenants up in arms over early closure of Crescat Mall

Over 50 tenants at Crescat Boulevard are up in arms over the early closure of the popular mall in Colombo-3 for purported renovation though new contracts were signed previously for operation till June next year.

The tenants have formed a collective and made strong representations to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa as well as John Keells Holdings whose subsidiary Asian Hotels and Properties PLC manages the Crescat Boulevard.

The Crescat Tenants Collective has said the early closure will cause serious disruption and losses to businesses of its members and jeopardise hundreds of jobs.

They also alleged it was against the spirit of supporting much-needed post-COVID recovery.

Crescat has given notice that it will be closed in December for much-needed renovation but tenants want time till June 2021 since the termination was sudden and unkind given the post-COVID recovery phase of businesses.

The Collective said that the understanding was that Crescat Boulevard would continue until June 2021 and thereafter provide tenants with required space in the new mall at the water front with no business interruption.

There are 55 tenants at Crescat Boulevard and they claimed at least 700 jobs may be at stake due to the sudden closure. Among the businesses currently operating at Crescat are leading local and international brands such as DSI, Spa Ceylon, Hameedias, Dilmah Tea, Mlesna Tea, Mallika Hemachandra Jewellers, Colombo Jewellers, Stone & String, Ceylon Biscuits, Dilly & Carlo, Vision Care, Vijitha Yapa, Foot Rub, Parfumerie, Swarovski, and Adidas.

In their letter to President Rajapaksa, the Tenants Collective has said the reason of termination of tenancy was the operation of Crescat Boulevard not being viable owing to a dramatic drop in tourism with limited revenue as various restrictions imposed for the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to continue for a further period.

The tenants, had expressed shock to the President over the decision and the sentiments expressed by Crescat Boulevard at a time when they had just opened the shops after keeping them closed for a period of over two months in view of the COVID19 pandemic.

The tenants had expressed hope that the Government will do its utmost towards an economic revival and on their part, they too will do their utmost to fortify the efforts of the Government.

Early June the Asian Hotels and Properties announced it would be moving forward with major investments towards the refurbishment of Crescat Boulevard.

First opening its doors in 1997, Crescat Boulevard was a pioneering development at the time, and soon became an iconic location in Colombo. It was the very first upscale retail hotspot in Colombo to offer a curated shopping experience featuring high-end international brands, side-by-side with local crafts, entertainment, and a melting pot of cuisines.

“The face of Colombo has seen such radical changes since Crescat Boulevard was first opened,” said Nayana Mawilmada, Sector Head of the Property Group of John Keells Holdings which manages the property. “It has been 23 years since we opened our doors, and that is a very long run for a shopping mall. After this length of time, the building is in need of a refurbishment, one we have been putting off for some time,” Mawilmada was quoted as saying.

“With all the new malls opening in Colombo, we also feel it is time to reconsider its competitive positioning as well. Naturally, we believe that more can now be done to take advantage of this property’s remarkable location and deliver value to our stakeholders. Our goal is to once again create a unique, high quality experience that can cater to the changing dynamics of an increasingly sophisticated market, thereby raising the profile of the city of Colombo itself,” Mawilmada said in a statement released to the media.

In their notice of termination, Crescat has stressed that COVID-19 pandemic, imposition of conditional curfew restrictions and the associated drastic drop in tourism has translated to a very bleak outlook for the Boulevard. This view was AHPP with the intention of providing some relief to tenants offered rental concessions in March.

“However, with the various restrictions likely to continue for a further period, a dramatic drop in tourism, and with limited revenues, it is no longer viable to continue operating the Boulevard in its present state,” AHPP added.

Though the legal obligation is to provide three months’ notice of termination, tenants had been given over 7 months’ notice to make arrangements to relocate your businesses elsewhere.

AHPP had also offered additional concessions to Crescat Boulevard tenants when the country was under locked down from late March to mid-May


(FT)