From ET Realty
Only 14 out of 104 units in Carlton Towers are occupied now and those in charge of the building are desperate to replace the eerie silence with the sound of cash registers ringing.
The Carlton Towers Owners’ Association (CTOA) has dropped rentals to as low as Rs. 40 per sq ft per month, a steep fall from Rs. 105 the complex commanded six years ago.
Association president Giriraj Sadashiva believes this is the only way to get things back to normalcy and attract tenants. “Those wanting to come ask for cheaper rents because of the building‘s past. It is inevitable for us to drop rentals,” he says.
On February 23, 2010, a fire broke out due to a short circuit in a service duct on the third floor. Heavy smoke spread upwards through the duct, forcing some victims to jump to death from the windows. Carlton Towers received clearance from the fire department in 2013, three years after the fire. “Many don’t even know we have all the clearances in place,” he said.
According to Satish BN, executive director (South India) at global realty consultancy Knight Frank, Carlton Towers pales before the modern structures coming up in the city in terms of floor density, air conditioning and other specifications. “Also, Carlton Towers suffers from a reputation problem,” he said.
Rekha Rai Hamilton from Hamilton Realtors, who owns many units on the sixth floor, agreed. “The bane that kept the tenants away has been the negative publicity,” she says. “Things are improving slowly. I’ve rented out a couple of units to startups and many more are coming forward now that we have reduced the rents.”
Meanwhile, victims of the fire who formed Beyond Carlton (BC), a nonprofit, plan to expand their advocacy to Mumbai and Delhi and raise funds. “We’ll continue to focus on policy changes and awareness on fire safety,” said managing trustee Uday Vijayan, who lost his 23-year-old son in the fire.