CHILD’S PLAY

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

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - Estates - - FRONT PAGE - Prakruti Ma­niar ht­spe­cial­pro­jects@htlive.com

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.

COST DIF­FER­ENCE

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.”

WHY NOW?

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).

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