KINDER GARTEN Across urban India, developers are offering amenities geared towards child development — coaching in yoga, chess and dramatics, tennis classes, even dance and music studios
Vijaya Rajan, 37, lived in Kalyani Nagar, Pune and was working as a chartered accountant, two years ago. Her six-year old daughter had a music class she would attend after school.
“We wanted to include other activities, but managing the pick-up and drop was difficult,” she says. In 2015, she bought a home at Song of Joy, a project by Gera Developments in Kharadi, Pune, whose promise of a vast amenities excited her.
Song of Joy offers not just daycare centres and sports turfs, but also tie-ups for coaching in chess, dramatics, singing, leadership development and tennis, on the complex premises.
“We wanted to offer services that were fun for children, helped in their development and was convenient for parents,” says Rohit Gera, managing director of Gera Developments.
In fast-growing urban pockets, value-adds like these are now great draws for nuclear families looking to relocate.
Many offer child-care, classrooms, dance studios, skating rinks, tennis courts, swimming pools, parks and yoga studios. And they come with coaching facilities too so kids needn’t be loaded into the car and driven across town to hone a talent.
MORE THE MERRIER
“Until five years ago, swimming pools would run dry within the first few months if the members didn’t maintain it,” says Aditya Kedia, managing director of Transcon Developers. The company’s Tirumala Habitats in Transcon Skycity at Mulund will include coaching facilities for tennis and swimming, among others.
In Gachibowli-Narsingi, Hyderabad, Accurate Developers’ upcoming eight-tower project, Accurate Wind Chimes, is designed to have extra-curricular activities on the premises. “We wanted to let the children pick what they want to excel in,” says a spokesperson for the company who did not wish to be named.
Two out of eight towers are completed, and the developers have tied up with an agency for sports coaching, which will begin between December and January.
Nahar’s Amrit Shakti township in Powai has taken up community initiatives like Green Diwali and Green Ganesha workshops to educated the children of the society about the environment. “The developer, along with the federation of residents, is involved in the mainte
A house with amenities for children can cost up to 10% more. But customers also get value for money. And if systems are in place and the initial momentum is going, the amenities will continue to work well even after the society is formed. ROHIT GERA, managing director of Gera Developments
nance of the spaces and we have seen children use it enthusiastically,” says Manju Yagnik, vice chairperson of Nahar Builders.
For Tirumala Habitats, Kedia formed an ad hoc committee comprising members of the society to help shortlist tennis and swimming coaches. “To ensure that there is continuity, we are looking at contracts of one to three years,” says Kedia.
The committee has six members. One of them a 46-year old member points out that Mulund does not yet have a gymkhana, clubhouse or a place for locals to unwind. “We decided that we will maintain this like a club, and plans are on to hire an agency to take care of it,” he says. It means that residents will pay more in maintenance, but “it will still be less than if you went out and took separate coaching classes,” he says.
A house in a child-centric project can cost up to 10 per cent more, says Gera. “But customers also get the value for money.” Krishna Padmanabhan and his wife Namita Iyer shifted from Mumbai to Pune in March with their nine-year old son Kartik and looked at a lot of properties. “In Kharadi, the price difference still within our budget. So we did not mind,” says Iyer. Song of Joy’s roster of amenities was particularly exciting.
“Since we were new to Pune, we were also not accustomed to regular travelling within the city,” she says. “My son is really looking forward to chess and cricket, while I am keen to learn swimming.”
Child-friendly offering are the key driver for young buyers – double-income professionals who find it hard to drop kids to and from an endless round of activities in the middle of the day. “Also, in a city like Mumbai, it is mostly not feasible to buy a house and a club membership,” Kedia adds. So it helps that these are all close to one’s apartment.
“It is a very competitive market and builders are trying to offer differentiators to the consumer,” says AS Sivaramakrishnan, head of residential, India at CBRE south Asia, a real estate services firm. “This trend answers to a lack of facilities available in the immediate surroundings,” says Pankaj Kapoor, managing director of Liases Foras, a real estate research firm.
TOO SOON TO TELL?
Experts say that these amenities only help if executed as promised and are used adequately by the society.
“This is an extension of the multi-purpose clubhouses and halls that became a norm over a decade ago,” says Kapoor. “Such large scale amenities can only be provided in bigger projects. Their value is also higher if the project is a not in the centre of the city,” he adds.
Sivaramakrishnan says that it is up to the members to ensure that these services are practical to sustain, through continued participation. Says Gera, “If the initial momentum is going, and the systems are in place, I don’t see why they will not continue.”
Facilities for children can range from music rooms such as this one at Song of Joy, Pune, to learnwhileyouplay setups such as this game of lifesize chess at Nahar’s Amrit Shakti in Powai (left).