Residents of T. Nagar may miss the streetside vendors soon.
After three years and many rounds of negotiations and discussions, shopkeepers have begun to relocate to the Pondy Bazaar shopping complex built by the Corporation.
On Friday, the compound wall of the building received a new coat of paint — bright blue with fluorescent green stripes — and the doors on the Lakshmikanthan Street side were opened.
A. Madhiazhagan was among the first to occupy the shop allotted to him on the third floor. He has been selling trinkets on the Thyagaraya Road footpath since 1996.
He spent Rs. 25,000 to install shutters and create wooden partitions in his shop but seemed wary.
“I am worried it will be a struggle for a year until business picks up. People stop by to shop as they walk down the street but it will be difficult to bring them into a building,” he said.
Shopkeepers said the complex was not well-ventilated. They were worried the three-feet-space provided for pedestrian movement would not suffice.
Also, since shops selling perishable items such as flowers and vegetables had been allotted space on the ground floor, the garbage generated by them may deter shoppers from entering the complex, they said.
Friday was the deadline for shopkeepers to move into the complex but even as the Corporation officials prepared to remove the footpath shops, various vendors’ associations went to court and sought extension of the deadline.
The shops were to be occupied in October 2010, a month after the inauguration of the complex but vendors went to court over the allotment, lack of facilities and the size and safety of the shops.
Even as the legal wrangle dragged on, new shops sprouted on Usman Road, Thanikachalam Road and Lakshmikanthan Street.