High De­mand for the Good Life

The pop­u­lar­ity of the niche lux­ury hous­ing seg­ment in the eastern hub is steady as ever

India Today - - REAL ESTATE - by Malini Ban­er­jee

Kolkata is no stranger to Rs 10 crore- plus homes. Al­though of­ten per­ceived to be a price- sen­si­tive mar­ket with low pur­chas­ing power, lux­ury hous­ing in the city is a dif­fer­ent story. “Lux­ury hous­ing in the city is a niche but sta­ble mar­ket,” says Su­mit Dabri­wala of the Hi­land Group, which was be­hind land­mark projects in Kolkata such as Hi­land Park on the Eastern Metropoli­tan ( EM) By­pass and Hi­land Sap­phire in Bal­ly­gunge.

His­tor­i­cally, Ali­pore has at­tracted Kolkata’s elite. Dur­ing the Bri­tish Raj, this was the white town, and is still pop­u­lated with sprawl­ing bun­ga­lows. “The de­mand for pre­mium prop­erty in Ali­pore has not waned with time, though, af­ter in­de­pen­dence, the city moved east. Slowly, Bal­ly­gunge emerged as a pop­u­lar choice, with the con­nec­tiv­ity it of­fers to the eastern reaches of the city via the EM By­pass. Prop­erty prices in Bal­ly­gunge soared with time, ow­ing to its prox­im­ity to schools, malls, clubs and hos­pi­tals,” says Nandu Be­lani of the Be­lani group. The neigh­bour­hood is home to two of Kolkata’s posh­est so­cial clubs: Cal­cutta Cricket and Football Club and the Dal­housie In­sti­tute. Of­ten, the pro­file of an area un­der­goes a sea change due to the con­struc­tion of a high- end prop­erty. Prince An­war Shah Road in South Kolkata is one such ex­am­ple. “Prop­erty rates in the area soared af­ter the South City mall and res­i­den­tial com­plex came up here,” says Dabri­wala. It’s the same story with the EM By­pass. Once an out­ly­ing road con­nect­ing the south­ern parts of the city to the air­port and Salt Lake, projects by Am­buja and Hi­land groups changed its pro­file. The five star ITC Sonar ho­tel gave it even more promi­nence. The pro­ject that is now gar­ner­ing all the eye­balls here is Fo­rum’s Rs 550- crore baby, At­mos­phere. Its USP is Deya, a hang­ing sculp­ture 500 ft above ground that joins its two res­i­den­tial tow­ers. De­signed by Sin­ga­pore- based Arc Stu­dio, it will have 55,000 sq ft of us­able space that will in­clude swim­ming pools, a gym, a spa, squash and bad­minton courts, a jog­ging track, a mini cin­ema theatre, an open- air party deck, an am­phithe­atre and mul­ti­ple lounges and spa­ces for smaller gath­er­ings.

Lux­ury hous­ing in Kolkata is a lot cheaper than in the other met­ros. “In Ali­pore, rates start from Rs 12,000 per sq ft and go up to Rs 18,000 per sq ft. Bal­ly­gunge is more ex­pen­sive, with rates vary­ing be­tween Rs 15,000 and Rs 22,000 per sq ft,” says Be­lani. But for re­ally ex­clu­sive op­tions, rates can go up to Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000 per sq ft, feels Dabri­wal. “Com­pared to well- known ex­pen­sive lo­cales in the other met­ros, the rates are al­most a fourth of Mum­bai, a third of New Delhi and around 10- 15 per cent less than in Ban­ga­lore,” says Be­lani.

De­vel­op­ers are con­ser­va­tive but op­ti­mistic about the growth of lux­ury hous­ing in the city. “De­spite the cau­tious eco­nomic cli­mate, there is a lot of wealth be­ing gen­er­ated by In­dia’s high- net- worth in­di­vid­u­als. As long as peo­ple have as­pi­ra­tions, and the money to back them up— de­mand for lux­ury homes will con­tinue to grow,” says a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Mani Group that built the Mani Square Mall on EM By­pass, and whose most re­cent pro­ject in­cludes Tiru­mani in Bal­ly­gunge.

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