‘Our homes will be de­liv­ered be­fore time’

Face to Face, our new fea­ture, will help our val­ued read­ers know more about a builder, his vi­sion and plans. This week, meet Amar­jit Bak­shi, MD, Cen­tral Park

HT Estates - - HTESTATES - Van­dana Ram­nani

Gur­gaon-based Cen­tral Park, founded by IITian Amar­jit Bak­shi, in 2001, has real es­tate projects worth $2 bil­lion (₹1,342 crore). It has over 10.9 mil­lion sq ft of ex­ist­ing de­vel­op­ment and an­other 12 mil­lion sq ft in ad­vanced stages of plan­ning/ex­e­cu­tion across ver­ti­cals such as up­scale res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment, hos­pi­tal­ity, com­mer­cial and SEZs. The com­pany’s cur­rent fo­cus is the NCR re­gion and Goa. HT Es­tates met up with Bak­shi, also the managing director, at one of his re­sort projects in Gur­gaon.

Can you tell us some­thing about when and why you de­cided to set up a real es­tate com­pany and the vi­sion you had? Did your aca­demic and pro­fes­sional back­ground help in any way?

I am a civil en­gi­neer from IIT Delhi. I started with civil en­gi­neer­ing projects like air­ports, high­ways and then moved to in­dus­try. From in­dus­try I grad­u­ated to real es­tate. Here the name of the game from day one is that if I have to live in some place, whether a home for the eco­nom­i­cally weaker sec­tions (EWS), a 2BHK, 3BHK, 4BHK or a pent­house – there will be no com­pro­mise on qual­ity. Here we are not pro­vid­ing houses, we are pro­vid­ing liv­abil­ity.

Any lessons you learnt while con­struct­ing Cen­tral Park-1 (CP-1) that you have in­cor­po­rated in Cen­tral Park-2 (CP-2) so that things can be done bet­ter?

Our first pro­ject was Cen­tral Park1. We were busy with our in­dus­tries and other things, so we gave pro­ject man­age­ment to an­other party. In the process some sort of an­tipa­thy was cre­ated ver­sus us.

The les­son that we learnt from CP-1 is that your biggest win is when you win your cus­tomer’s heart. What­ever prof­its you don’t make from your first pro­ject, they are ac­tu­ally your brand equity for the sec­ond pro­ject. So, we are not in a hurry to show big prof­its from pro­ject to pro­ject. Some­where, we have sold projects for ₹ 2,000 per sq ft, and now their price has es­ca­lated to ₹ 16,000 per sq ft. The cus­tomer has made a profit of ₹ 14,000. Ul­ti­mately what we have re­alised is that the cus­tomer is God.

Even for our EWS projects, a cer­tain stan­dard has to be main­tained. If I have to stay in EWS in CP-1 or CP-2, I have no prob­lem in my life. The re­sale value of EWS apart­ments sold for ₹ 50,000, to­day is ₹ 60 lakh. That is be­cause we re­spect a cer­tain stan­dard of spec­i­fi­ca­tions.

What is the USP of the re­cently launched Cen­tral Park-III (of which Flower Val­ley is a part)? I un­der­stand that it is ex­pected to in­clude res­i­den­tial units for se­nior cit­i­zens.Tell us more about that.

We have named CP-2 as Cen­tral Park Re­sorts be­cause once you are there you won’t want to go any­where – for your hair­cut, your dry clean­ing, your ser­vants, for your en­ter­tain­ment, for your gym. Any­thing that you need is avail­able here.

Flower Val­ley is yet an­other con­cept. This will be of around 500 acres and will be a sports city. There we are fo­cus­ing on seven or eight in­ter­na­tional acad­e­mies which means we are bring­ing in Liver­pool for foot­ball, a cricket academy, golf academy, swim­ming academy – a to­tal of eight acad­e­mies where we are go­ing to pro­duce in­ter­na­tional play­ers. The pro­ject will have floors. There we have multi-storey apart­ments, with floors, vil­las and se­nior living – ev­ery­thing in an in­te­grated mixed com­plex.

When you en­ter the Flower Val­ley pro­ject, you will be en­thralled by all types of flow­ers We are try­ing to get flow­ers that grow in this weather, in win­ter, in au­tumn, which grow in all sea­sons.

For this pro­ject, we are in­tro­duc­ing the se­nior living for­mat. What we have learnt is that se­niors in this coun­try do not want to be la­belled as se­niors, they want to live with ev­ery­body. Sim­ply pro­vide cer­tain fa­cil­i­ties for them and that too on an op­tional ba­sis. We are bring­ing in se­nior living in CP-2 also and what we are hav­ing here is a com­mon kitchen. That is the only dif­fer­ence and noth­ing else.

Are you plan­ning to in­tro­duce other res­i­den­tial con­cepts?

We are plan­ning to in­tro­duce 500 sq ft apart­ments within our CP-2 pro­ject for the young gen­er­a­tion. The con­cept is based on a premise: ‘We work, we en­joy our­selves, we live and we don’t com­mute’. In this pro­ject, young buy­ers will have the op­tion to use the com­mon draw­ing rooms, din­ing ar­eas, eat­ing fa­cil­i­ties on a pay as you use ba­sis. Prices of th­ese units will start at ₹ 20,000 per sq ft. Buy­ers will have to pay

35% at the on­set and managing director, Cen­tral Park 65% at the time of pos­ses­sion. We are giv­ing them an exit of­fer. They will have the op­tion to va­cate when they wish to, and take back their money. But of course we are not guar­an­tee­ing them any ap­pre­ci­a­tion.

What about your plans for projects in other cities?

Ex­cept for Delhi and Goa, we are not go­ing any­where. There are three projects in Goa – one is a ho­tel and one is a ho­tel-cum­res­i­den­tial pro­ject. Plan­ning is on in full scale The first pro­ject will have a lake and will be run by an ex­tra­or­di­nary hos­pi­tal­ity chain and only 50% of apart­ments will be sold. Since this will be a hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion, most of the units will be left va­cant, so the own­ers can earn rev­enue by let­ting them out to the chain which will be op­er­at­ing there. The other 50% will be with the chain it­self.

The sec­ond pro­ject is a re­sort pro­ject on a river front which is about one-and-a-half km long and the vil­las will come up vir­tu­ally on the river – float­ing vil­las. And the third pro­ject is a seven-star ho­tel on the beach.

What about plans for Noida?

In Noida, we are plan­ning a SEZ, which will be based on the walk-towork con­cept.

Are you plan­ning to ex­ploit land op­por­tu­ni­ties under the new Master Plan 2021 in Delhi?

We are plan­ning to in­tro­duce farm­houses. Th­ese will be oneacre farm­houses –three units in one farm­house with in­de­pen­dent en­trance for each cov­er­ing about 1,600 sq yard each. Th­ese will be gated com­mu­ni­ties. We are plan­ning to launch them by the mid­dle of next year.

What do you make of the real es­tate mar­ket? What are de­vel­op­ers do­ing to bring end-users back to the mar­ket?

I will look at the whole thing very dif­fer­ently. First of all in a big city like Delhi, they have solved the hous­ing prob­lem. Now rentals are avail­able at un­be­liev­able prices. Ev­ery­body can as­pire to have an apart­ment. Sec­ond, a few peo­ple who have not stuck to prin­ci­ples, will have to walk out. A time has to come, not very far from now, when 70% of the houses will have to be smaller in size, less than 70 sq m like in China. They are now talk­ing of smart cities. The real smart cities will be the ones where peo­ple don’t have to drive at all.

What do you make of the Real Es­tate (Reg­u­la­tory) Act?

It is not a com­plete act as yet but it is a great at­tempt. And slowly it will be mod­i­fied. It is greatly re­quired. It is the right step for­ward, the face of the real es­tate in­dus­try has al­ready changed.

What about prob­lems of late de­liv­er­ies? Now to con­struct an apart­ment we have taken a pol­icy de­ci­sion that we will never be late even by a day. On the con­trary we will be ahead of time by a month or two. It’s not dif­fi­cult at all. Any­body can achieve that. It does not in­volve rocket science. This can be achieved through proper plan­ning for fund flow and mak­ing sure the funds are not di­verted.

Amar­jit Bak­shi, MD, Cen­tral Park, in a con­ver­sa­tion with Van­dana Ram­nani at Cen­tral Park Re­sorts in Gur­gaon.

PHO­TOS: AISH­WARYA KANDPAL

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