Renjith and his friend Abhinand drove around to find 'to-let' boards and shuttered shops all through the once bustling Koramangala.

A to-let board on the glass of a shop in a building
news Civic issues Monday, October 05, 2020 - 14:39

On Sunday, Renjith Thomas, a freelance consultant, and his friend Abhinand decided to drive around Koramangala. They were not out for a joy ride; Renjith had been noticing an increasing number of bustling commercial establishments that had emptied out. Having lived in the area for 16 years, the duo decided to map just how many such spaces had been impacted by the pandemic.

In the subsequent exercise, Renjith and Abhinand found atleast 132 commercial establishments had been emptied or had to-let boards on them. Pointing out the irony, Renjith said on a Twitter thread that Koramangala was the “Manhattan of Bengaluru”, where many tech start-ups like Flipkart began, and where many billionaires like Nandan Nilekani and Sachin Bansal live.

Speaking to TNM, Renjith says that he had been seeing a yellow banner saying “showroom for rent” for Rs 1.98 lakh in Koramangala for a while. But on his recent visit to the city, he noticed a considerably higher number of similar postings across the locality.

Renjith adds that he also drove in Indiranagar, on 100-feet road, but did not have enough time to map the area the way he and Abhinand had done for Koramangala. “The situation is not as bad as Koramangala, especially Koramangala 80-feet road, in Indiranagar. Overall, we counted around 180 commercial spaces that had been emptied out or shut, and from that 132 were in Koramangala. We were able to spot around 50 in Indiranagar so far.”

Photos from Indiranagar

He also pointed out that these numbers are just from driving around the main roads. “We've not covered all the by-lanes of Koramangala. We didn't include residential properties. We didn't include closed establishments without a TO-LET board. These are places what we could see driving around. The count will be manifolded if we add all that.”

“Fresh Engineers used to flock to the city with the hope of finding a job. Now, I don't know where will they go now. It looks so depressing. We don't know whether the Silicon Valley of India will ever be the same again,” Renjith added in a tweet. He also observed that there are many places which have been emptied out – like the Shopper’s Stop store next to Koramangala’s Forum Mall, but it does not have a To-Let board.

Renjith and Abinand’s findings are also corroborated by Gregory, a realtor dealing with commercial and residential establishments in central Bengaluru. He tells TNM that in areas like Koramangala and HSR Layout, where many startup markets have come up because of easy access to restaurants and other outlets, are now under stress because offices have been shuttered due to the pandemic. This has had a domino effect on the commercial establishments that would run because the people who are now compelled to work from home or don’t frequent the stores as much.

Photos from Koramangala

“Around 40-50% restaurants have shut down because of lack of business, the unaffordability of rent because of it. The same goes for a lot of shops. Subsequently, the rentals have also dropped by around 10-20%,” Gregory says.

He adds though that the market has seen some revival in the past two weeks or so despite the slump. For one, many offices are looking to downgrade their spaces to smaller ones, because of the work from home model and reduction in the number the people allowed to be in office at a point of time. “So, the smaller commercial spaces are seeing an interest again. Fresh requirement of new leases is happening as those with the cash flow want to capitalise on the falling sale and rental value,” Gregory says. 

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