Building boom

Print edition : February 15, 2008

A group housing project undertaken in 2006. Residential projects have gained momentum in the city. - S. SIVA SARAVANAN

On the phenomenal growth of real estate.

A group housing

THE real estate business was quick to recover from the debilitating phase that Coimbatore went through following the 1998 serial bomb blasts and a prolonged recession. The city and its outskirts are witnessing ceaseless construction activity; work on apartment complexes, residential gated communities, shopping malls, multistoreyed office complexes, IT parks, trade fair complexes, Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and engineering industries is apace.

From 1998 to 2004, Coimbatore went through a bad phase. However, after 2004, all sectors, including textiles, engineering and foundry, are doing well. The growth of real estate in Coimbatore has been especially phenomenal after 2004, said Rajesh B. Lund, managing director, Srivari Infrastructure Private Limited and Srivari Finance and Leasing Company Private Limited. The real estate business has done really well in the past two years. The prices are stabilising. There will be a big surge in the market after 2010, he predicted. However, what is worrying real estate developers is that affordability has come down. Land prices have risen beyond affordability. That is a little disturbing, said Madan Lund, Srivaris director and Rajeshs brother.

Srivari Infrastructure Private Limited, Presidium Constructions Coimbatore (P) Limited and Covai Property Centre (India) Private Limited are among the important real estate builders in the city.

While Srivari Infrastructure is currently engaged in building seven residential complexes and one commercial complex, Presidium Constructions, a promoter of high-end residential complexes, is entering IT parks. Presidium Constructions plans to build a one million-square-foot shopping mall on Avanashi Road. Hari Khemchand and Suressh Menda are its directors. Covai Property Centre, headed by its managing director Col. (retired) A. Sridharan, is a six-year-old company, which specialises in building residential gated communities. It is currently building residential complexes covering an area of six lakh sq ft under different projects.

Rajesh Lund said apartment construction was an emerging market as Coimbatores residents had started to accept the idea of living in apartments and getting over the concept of independent homes with space around for gardening.

The expectations here are for a good-sized apartment. If you build a smaller-sized apartment, it is not accepted by the market. If you build a larger one, there is no affordability, said Rajesh Lund. The demand is for apartments with an area of 1,500 sq ft to 3,700 sq ft. A separate market existed for apartments measuring 3,700 sq ft, with two living rooms and four bedrooms. Those who cannot afford to buy bungalows but want the lifestyle of a bungalow are looking for larger apartments, he said.

Srivari Infrastructure, which has been in the real estate business since 1995, is currently building seven residential projects and one commercial complex in prime locations. The residential projects are coming up at Race Course Road, R.S. Puram, Tiruchi Road, Peelamedu, and other places while the commercial complex is getting ready on Avanashi Road. The multistoreyed commercial complex covers 60,000 sq ft. In future, we want to build townships. We are planning to enter IT SEZs. We are assessing the demand. We have plans to move to Chennai, said Rajesh and Madan Lund. Rajesh Lund expects a big surge in the market in Coimbatore after 2010.

The nattily dressed Hari Khemchands assessment is that the current real estate boom can be sustained if the government is a little proactive and simplified the rules. Today, we have IT parks in Coimbatore because the government started promoting one about 15 months ago, he pointed out. Real estate developers were looking to the government to simplify land development regulations, which should be better fine-tuned to the needs of the city, he said. The government wants to benchmark Coimbatore, based on a metro city [regulations]. This is a little unfair, Khemchand commented. There are areas in Coimbatore that can accommodate a high density of population because land is still available.

Presidium Constructions is currently building two residential projects, on Avanashi Road and in Sai Baba Colony. These are high-end apartments with air-conditioned club houses, gymnasiums, back-up power for lifts, and so on. The residential project on Avanashi Road is called Presidium Wisteriea, an enclave of 52 contemporary homes. Presidium and Nithyarjuna Properties and Developers, have teamed up to build the Wisteriea.

By the middle of 2008, Presidium will start building 60 villa apartments near Golf Course. These will be luxury villas. The groundbreaking ceremony for Presidium Constructions IT Park at Kalapatti will be held in March. The shopping mall, covering one million sq ft to come up on Avanashi Road, will have a multiplex, an entertainment zone, retail showrooms spanning three lakh sq feet, a car park for another three lakh sq ft and a plush hotel with 125 rooms. The mall is huge. It is going to be Presidiums flagship project, Suressh Menda and Hari Khemchand said. The mall will open in June 2010. Presidium has identified 300 acres of land for building 60 super luxury getaway villas. It is a major project, Khemchand said, declining to reveal the location.

According to Col. Sridharan, land prices which rose to astronomical levels in the past two years because there was so much of hype about Coimbatore have dropped 20 per cent now. His Covai Property Centre is about to complete a residential complex at Ganapati, with 97 independent houses measuring between 1,785 sq ft and 2,900 sq ft and 48 apartments varying from 1,260 sq ft to 1,700 sq ft. This residential enclave will have a commercial complex on four floors, a club house of 12,000 sq ft and a swimming pool.

We are going to start another residential project at Sulur, which will measure 5.25 lakh sq ft, with 160 apartments and 73 independent houses. We will finish it in two years, said Col. Sridharan.

We specialise in comfort and retirement homes for people above 50 years. We have three such projects one has already been completed on Siruvani Road, he said. All apartments and houses in the residential complexes called Soundaryam, Santhosham and Shenbagam have already been booked. These are gated communities. A club house, a library, an activity room for festivals, an open-air theatre and a reverse osmosis plant for water treatment are some of the facilities in these complexes.

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