The construction of the multi-level car park is expected to be completed by end of next year.

Infrastructure: About 20 percent of the two multi-level car parks that are currently being constructed in Thimphu city will be used for commercial purposes.

The owners of some businesses located on Norzin Lam have raised concerns that this may provide an advantage to those businesses located in the car parks.

Thimphu Thrompon, Kinlay Dorjee, said that the project is not financially viable if 20 percent of the car parks are not given for commercial purposes. The decision to allow 20 percent as commercial area is based on the expert’s study, the thrompon added. “In the next twenty years, the investors will not be able to recover their investment solely from the parking fee.”

The constructions of the two multi-level car parks are being carried out under public-private partnership and were started in September last year. One is located on Phendey Lam, near the Zangthopelri complex and the other on Norzin Lam, opposite the oil depot. Both the buildings will have six-storeys including two basements.

The two car parks will have to provide a total of 550 parking spaces. The one located on Norzin Lam will accommodate 200 parking spaces.

The CEO of the constructing company, Goutam Mukherjee, said that having commercial area in multi-level car park would provide people with many services under a roof. “People can park their cars and shop from the same building.”

KCR pvt ltd, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) set up by CE Construction pvt ltd in Nepal, and KNG pvt ltd and Rinson Construction pvt ltd in Bhutan, was selected to execute the project. A SPV is a legal entity created solely to serve a particular function. The project agreement was signed in September 2014.

Goutam Mukherjee said that the company looks forward to renting the area to big entrepreneurs or commercial houses like banks that can take the whole flat for rent.

He explained that there are many factors like the investment amount, local market and people’s demand to consider when deciding on the rent of the commercial area. However, the company is doing a marketing study and working on to whom and how the commercial areas will be rented out.

Provided the better facilities like parking facilities and security, the rent for the commercial area at the car park will be higher compared to that of the existing market but it will be within a range, Goutam Mukherjee said. “But we cannot impose huge rents which will be a burden for people,” he said.

The existing rent for shops along the Norzin Lam ranges from Nu 25,000 to Nu 50,000 per month while rent for paan shops are between Nu 6,000 and Nu 9,500.

A paan shop owner, Durga Pradhan, said that many business owners would be trying to get space in the multi-level car parks for their business and high demand will make the rent higher. “If Norzin Lam is not pedestrianised then I prefer my shop’s current location for business,” she said.

A shop owner in Norzin Lam, Sonam Deki, said that she would want to move her shop into the multi-level car park building only if the rent is affordable. The success of the business mainly depends on how you treat your customers and of course the price of the goods, the location of the business is a secondary factor in populated area like in Thimphu, Sonam Deki said.  “If the rent is high we have to charge higher for the goods and expensive goods means less customers,” Sonam Deki said.

The company’s design team will decide on the location of the commercial place in the multi-level car park on Norzin Lam. Goutam Mukherjee said that shoppers convenience will be considered while deciding on the location of the area. Therefore, probably the front side of the building will be given for commercial purpose. “We cannot keep the commercial place at the back side where no one can see,” he said.

The multi-level car park on Phendey Lam will have a separate building for commercial purposes.

KCR is trying to complete the construction before its two-year deadline. However, the quality will not be compromised, Goutam Mukherjee said. “The company will use best technologies for the project.”

The thromde’s assistance engineer, Ugyen Lhamo said that KCR is responsible for the design, development, finance, operation and maintenance of the two car park facilities. The project period is 22 years. “The company will operate the multi-level car parks for 20 years after which the company will have to hand over the structures to the thromde,” she said.

The company will also be responsible for repairing, operating and maintaining about a thousand existing off-street and on-street public parking spaces in the city centre. The company will have to pay a minimum annual concession fee to the thromde.

Dechen Tshomo