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Tall is beautiful for realty players in Mumbai

>> Monday, 5 September 2011

The latest to join the growing list of skyscraper builders in Mumbai is a local land owner, R M Batthad, which has tied up with IL&FS. It has firm plans to construct seven to eight towers, each with 90 floors, over a 19-acre plot in Sewri that was part of the erstwhile mill district in central Mumbai.

IL&FS, which also manages a real estate fund, has already invested Rs 100 crore in the project and will scale up its investment in the coming days, a person involved with the project said. A senior IL&FS executive confirmed the development. Though the exact cost of the project is not known, it is likely to generate Rs 15,000 crore in revenues, the person added. Real estate brokers said the project is set to be launched within two-three weeks.


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Just yesterday, the Lodha group, which made news last week by winning the bid to buy a six-acre plot in the country’s largest-ever land deal, announced its intent to build the world’s tallest residential tower. The 115-storied apartment block on a 17.5-acre plot of the defunct Shrinivas Mill is planned in Lower Parel, a few kilometres away from Sewri.

Lodha is also planning to start work on a tall residential project in a six-acre plot in Wadala, for which it submitted a winning bid of over Rs 4,000 crore. The developer will hold a preview for the 115-storied Lower Parel apartment block on June 8.

A few metres down the road, DLF is ready to launch what is being billed as ‘Mumbai’s largest luxury residential project’. The project will have 1,000 apartments in three buildings, with 80-90 floors each. Each apartment in the complex will cost Rs 5-10 crore, real estate brokers said.

In central Mumbai, DB Realty is also developing an 80-storied residential complex, Orchid Heights. The developer is planning another project in Charni Road, south Mumbai, which will have around the same number of floors.

Towers in the air?
While there is a race to announce the launch of the city’s tallest structure, market players warn that many of the projects might not materialise. “It is more to do with creation of hype when sales are down and prices are stagnant,” says Pankaj Kapoor, chief executive of realty research firm Liases Foras.

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), which had announced plans to build a 101-storied building in Wadala, shelved it due to a poor response from developers. Instead of the proposed commercial complex, MMRDA then bid out the land, for which Lodha emerged the top bidder.

The Imperial, the 60-storied twin towers developed by Shapoorji Pallonji and Dilip Thacker at Tardeo, is at present touted as the country’s tallest residential building. Even this project took nearly a decade for completion, due to litigation and a lengthy approval process.

A necessity, not race
“In a city like Mumbai where land is scarce, the only way to build a project is to go up,” says Anand Narayanan, national director, residential agency at Knight Frank, a property consultancy.

Though the floor space index (FSI), the permissible construction on a plot of land, is capped at 1.33 in Mumbai as compared to 6-9 in Hong Kong and Singapore, an FSI of up to four is permitted in redevelopment projects. So, developers are attracted to build up to four square feet on every square foot of land on which a textile mill, an old building or a slum once existed.

“It is more of a necessity than a competition. You can also develop better infrastructure around it,” says Suleman Budhwani, vice-president (business development) at Shapoorji Pallonji, which developed The Imperial towers.

However, analysts see the so-called race as just a fad. Kapoor says, by going taller, developers plan to sell more area to home buyers, which they generate by building balconies and terraces that are free from FSI restrictions.

“Though it is good for a city like Mumbai, there is a big gap between claims and implementation,” he says.

However, the slowdown in Dubai property has come as a blessing for Indian developers, who are planning to build large developments. According to Narayanan of Knight Frank, all of Dubai’s technical and construction teams are available to work in India at nominal costs.

“Four years ago, they were not even willing to look at India,” he says. For the moment, the developers are trying to reach for the sky.



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