PUNE: Shop owners and traders on Laxmi Road are envisaging a renewed avatar for the city's oldest marketplace from January 1, 2018, to attract more visitors and customers. The Laxmi Road Traders' Association is drawing up a master plan to develop this age-old market to tackle with the growing mall culture and penetration of e-commerce.
With free shuttle services, a probable walking plaza, areas to sit, food courts and the likes on the cards, the shopping experience on Laxmi Road may undergo a drastic change. "Laxmi Road is the oldest marketplace in the city, which portrays the culture and heritage of Pune. Every city has one such marketplace, which is a must visit due to the traditional touch that it offers. Laxmi Road has been a popular shopping destination for Puneites for decades but with the growing mall culture and the facilities available at malls, people are turning towards malls," said Rahul Bora, President of the Laxmi Road Traders Association.
He said that the association aims to develop Laxmi Road on the lines of a mall concept to attract better footfall to the market. He said that people come to Laxmi Road searching for exclusive designs, materials and varieties available at this place. "Travellers visiting Pune ensure a visit to Laxmi Road, Tulshibaug and surrounding areas, all the while clicking the local culture, the old wadas and the marketplace. We want to develop the marketplace by adding infrastructure for consumers while securing its heritage. We want to revive Laxmi Road," he added.
According to Bora, the master plan includes a provision of basic facilities like ample of parking space, pavements, sit-outs and others. "A few years ago, we had drawn a plan to convert Laxmi Road into a walking plaza but it did not work out. But now, we are drawing up a plan, which includes provisions of parking space, walking space, food courts and other such amenities. We have thought of creating parking space on the riverside road and provide free shuttle service from the parking lot to Laxmi Road and back. We have plans to install neon signboards, lighting and LED boards along the road to give a new look," he said.
Bora added that the association is currently drawing and finalising the plan, after which it will be taken up with the Pune Municipal Corporation. "We are working on the plan at the moment and will take the same up with the PMC in December. The traders will work closely with the PMC to develop Laxmi Road. We want a new and revived Laxmi Road from January 1, 2018," Bora emphasised.
He further mentioned that they are exploring a concept and plan around an 'Online Laxmi Road'. "There have been surveys, which state that while online penetration is increasing, offline markets are also necessary. People have greater satisfaction touching the object they wish to purchase and seeing it in person. In the coming years, we see numerous tie-ups between online marketplaces and offline marketplaces. In line with this, we have created a model for 'Online Laxmi Road'," Bora added.