THE RECENT reports about the impending sale of Trincity Mall has been met with anger by some of their tenants, who say management has been unconcerned and uncompromising throughout the covid19 pandemic.
Newsday visited Trincity Mall on Thursday and spoke with many tenants, almost all of whom expressed some level of anxiety over the future.
They have been anxious long before restrictions were relaxed and then reimposed in August. But what makes matters worse, now, is the lack of security which came with the reports surrounding plans to sell two malls by its parent company, HCL Group of Companies.
One tenant asked to remain unnamed but was blunt in his criticism of Trincity Mall's management.
"If they have to sell, sell. "The new owners couldn't be any worse than what we have now. They have been utterly unforgiving. They haven't reached out to say what's happening. And, they refuse to budge as it pertains to these unrealistic charges."
On Thursday, Finance Minister Colm Imbert said both Trincity Mall and Long Circular Mall need to be completely evaluated before it can be determined if the time is right to sell.
The malls are owned by the HCL group, a subsidiary of CL Financial.
Imbert was responding to concerns arising out of a recent Express article, which said CL Financial's liquidators David Holukoff and Hugh Dickson had begun the process to sell the two popular malls.
Speaking at the post-Cabinet media briefing, the minister said, "In order to dispose of the CL Financial and Clico assets the liquidator is required by the court to do a valuation. If there was an intention to sell the malls, the first thing the liquidators would have to do is get a valuation. Then the board would have to decide if this is the right time."
The move to liquidate has been attributed to the number of businesses that have been forced to close permanently, owing to many disruptions caused by covid19, such as the temporary closure of non-essential businesses and public health restrictions limiting stores to five customers at any time.
Trincity Mall had made rent concessions after the shut-down of non-essential businesses earlier in the year, like waiving rent. But now the tenants say, they are back to paying exorbitant fees, such as the common area management charge, which they say can be as high as $40,000 monthly per tenant.
"It really doesn't make much sense being so unforgiving with the charges because if you move to evict tenants, who are you really going to replace them with?"
The owner of a jewellery store told Newsday that the only reason his Trincity Mall outlet remains open is because it only makes sense to "ride it out" until Christmas.
"It's very likely that we won't be here any more after Christmas, though."
He asked not to be identified but gave insight into the performance of his other branch by comparison.
"You pay less rent there (Grand Bazaar), first of all," he said. He noted the contrast between the number of stores which have shut down in Trincity, as opposed to Grand Bazaar.
This, he said, is because the owners, Ansa McAl allowed tenants rent concessions for three to six months in order for them to weather the economic downturn.
Another tenant at Trincity Mall, who owns a beauty salon, says she and her workers are currently in panic mode. "I haven't had a customer for the entire day," she said.
"But I did have some people call me from away to say they were sorry I had to close. That's what the article (caused). It is unfortunate that the article appeared before management told us something.
"Why haven't I closed up? Two reasons. I also sell an exclusive line of products. And, I've literally invested my entire life into this business. I'd have to hit absolute rock-bottom to leave. This was my dream. But, it's turning into a nightmare."