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Park and Ride Plaza: Going, going … maybe not yet

Dispute: The land where the plaza had been constructed belonged to the Parks and Horticulture Authority and was meant to be a park.

LAHORE: The Lahore Development Authority (LDA) has had to postpone the auction of shops at the Liberty Park and Ride Plaza as the auction on Tuesday attracted no buyers.

This is the third time that an open auction was held for the shops at the Plaza. Three investors were present when the auction started, two hours later than its scheduled time of 10 am, on the Plaza premises.
One of them withdrew his bid just before the auction began. The remaining two then were left to bid for the 34 shops up for sale. However, no bids were made and even though the auction had been started late to give people time to make it to the Plaza, the number of potential bidders never increased. Some officials had advised the LDA’s additional director general to postpone the auction but he did act on their suggestion.

A petition being heard by the Lahore High Court alleges that the land where the plaza had been constructed belonged to the Parks and Horticulture Authority and was meant to be a park.

There has been talk that this could be one of the reasons investors shy away from the plaza. The LDA has pointed out that no stay order has been issued against sale of shops at the Plaza.

Another factor in low investor confidence is that so far out of the 24 auctioned shops only two investors have been able to take possession of their shops.

Khalid Ali, the bidder who withdrew from the auction, told The Express Tribune that the controversies attached with the Plaza and the low turnout had made him reconsider.

“The location was key to my decision in coming here today. But when I saw the atmosphere at the auction, I consulted with my father and we decided that I should just pull out,” he said. Ali added that he would wait for all the issues connected with the Plaza to be sorted out before contemplating investing in it.

LDA officials did not announce the date for the next auction.
Mian Haroon, a member of the Action Committee of Liberty Traders, said he believed that people were wary of the Plaza’s future due to the petition in court. He said that commercial activities in the Plaza had not started but the administration had ruined decades-old businesses in the neighbourhood only to claim that the Plaza was a success.

“The Punjab government is taking action against illegal plazas, yet they have constructed an illegal plaza of their own.”

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