High Demand for the Good Life
The popularity of the niche luxury housing segment in the eastern hub is steady as ever
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.