Mangalore: At least, there are some people who don’t believe in 2012. If size and scale of projects are anything to go by, then they certainly expect to be well and alive and thriving way beyond the 2012 end-of-the-world deadline. Take for instance, Siraj Ahmed of the city based Inland Builders. He presently boasts of the largest apartment project in progress. Inland Windsors, his dream project, is a 25-storey high-rise structure situated at Airport Road, Maryhill and comprising of 226 luxury apartments, estimated to have a combined market value of over Rs. 100 crore. It comes with so-far unheard of luxury features like rooftop helipad, along with swimming pool, gym, lounge and community hall.
K.C.Naik of Mahabaleshwara Promoters and Builders is similarly enthusiastic. He recently wowed the people of the city by becoming the first to offer super luxury apartments priced at a whopping Rs. 1.2 crore – an unheard of amount for a flat. As if this is not enough, his brainchild is ‘Classique Village’, a novel ‘gated’ community comprising 100 luxury villas spread over a sprawling 12-acre property at Shakthinagar. This too is an exclusive enclave featuring with every luxury one could ask for. Adjacent to this will be Classique Emerald offering 270 luxury apartments. He has also launched Classique Sapphire with 180 flats.
Classique Sapphire, Shaktinagar
Srinath of Land Trades Developers too is in an upbeat mood. He will shortly offer his magnum opus: a 150-home apartment complex at Karangalpady. A couple of months ago, he launched two super luxury apartments – Aadhee and Vijaya – with apartments priced above Rs. 50 lakhs each. 80% of the flats were booked within the first month itself. His previous projects like Mercara Heights, Aria and Orion were sold out even before the Bhoomi Pooja.
These are but a few pointers signifying the boundless confidence of the real estate sector in its own future. When recession hit the global economy, the sector that took the maximum beating, especially in the United States, was housing. Hence it was expected that the downturn would drag the Indian economy too into the abyss and real estate would once again sink under its own weight. Many feared a dreaded 1998-style collapse when construction activity virtually came to a stand still and many builders of repute lost their shirt. The mood turned pessimistic and transactions plummeted all of a sudden. Then just when everyone was expecting the worst, things began to look up and builders began announcing a spate of projects.
Aadhee, Mallikatta and Sai Grandeur, Jail Road, Mangalore
Today, real estate business is thriving in Mangalore and Udupi. The huge investment in the MRPL expansion project has only given the much needed boost to the real estate business. The IT giant Infosys has already made its presence felt in the coastal city, while many more IT majors are making moves to set foot in the city. The Mangalore SEZ Ltd, which has acquired thousands of acres of land with plans to set up varied units, too is expected to give a great impetus to the realty sector here, taking the property prices to new heights.
Mangalore is now targeted by top investors and IT giants as their next business centre leading to its fast paced growth. The upgradation of the airport, railways and the roads of the city too has contributed its part to the growth of the realty industry. The city has also become a good choice for people wanting to invest in properties. The result is clear-several residential and commercial projects are lined up in the city to act as catalysts of development including three IT parks at Ganjimutt, Thumbe and near Mangalore University which are in pipeline.
Hi-rise residential apartments, commercial complexes, malls and multiplexes, the city is witnessing a giant leap in the construction industry. Today we see only a handful of tiled roof structures, while most of the old buildings are being replaced by concrete structures, giving a whole new look to Mangalore.
At present, Mangalore has around five lakh sq.ft of mall space and in the next three year period it could very well reach the 25 lakh sq.ft mark. While three malls have already begun operations in Mangalore, three more are in different stages of construction.The City Centre at KS Rao Road, promoted by Mohtisham Complexes, boasts of being Mangalore’s biggest Mall. Meanwhile, another biggest mall is in the making at Bikarnakatta and that is the Plama Mall promoted by Plama Developers Ltd with a built-up area of 15 lakh square feet. When completed, it is expected to be the largest mall in the region.
The development and concretization of several roads of Mangalore and also the infrastructural development in the city has been a driving spirit for the construction industry.
Given all the developments, what’s the indication? Is this apparent bouncing back for real? Will it last? What is the ground reality? These questions will no doubt tickle the cynics, but an analysis of hard facts reveals that we are truly better off than we fear.
Inland Ebony, Kadri, Mangalore
Real estate emerged on its own in the city only in the early 90’s. Prior to that a handful of enthusiasts, like the late JM Lobo Prabhu, had tried their hand at promoting a few apartment projects. The rest were an ensemble of brokers and commission agents. In the last decade of the century, for the first time, real estate companies like Mohtisham Complexes and Coastline Developers came up with grandiose projects and this inspired many wannabes too to follow in their footsteps. Their collective inexperience coupled with limited market potential and it was soon obvious that they were building castles in the air.
The bubble burst in 1998, and the market crashed. Many well-established business houses which had diversified into construction burnt their fingers. Some downed their shutters, while others fled town. Mohtisham Complexes was among the few to come out in one piece. To their credit, Mohtisham identified all the half-constructed buildings and partnered with the original promoters to complete the project as planned.
Another notable exception is Land Links, the real estate firm owned by district in-charge minister J. Krishna Palemar. Initially a real estate agent, he ventured into layouts and apartments soon after the 1998 collapse and cashed in on the low market sentiment by promoting Land Links Township, a low cost mass housing complex. Promoted with the idea of providing cheap and decent independent homes, this project became a phenomenal success and continues to grow even now.
Then it took all of five to six years for the market to stabilize and another five to re-attain its peak. Then just when things were looking up came the US meltdown. Real estate is among the chief barometers of economic health. It fulfills a basic need of the people for shelter, it harnesses land – one of the four factors of production, and it involves big money. Land, like gold, seems to bear eternal value and a thriving economy boosts real estate prices like nobody’s business.
So it follows that good tidings in the real estate sector is linked in to the overall economic scenario. The single outstanding saving grace has been the absolute stability of the market. This happened due to many reasons. For one Indian economy did not take the beating it might otherwise have, thanks to our sound fundamentals. For another, the ground reality at the local level had changed much since the last debacle in 1998. Over the last decade, the region has seen rapid economic development. Advent of industries like MRPL, Infosys and now the Mangalore Special Economic Zone has provided impetus to the economy. Moreover the liberalized economy had forced the lending institutions to adopt more positive attitude and come up with investor friendly policies. Today housing loans are available much more easily and more affordably too.
The local land holding pattern too is typical. For most people here, land is an inherited wealth and no one is desperate to sell. If land had been bought land for speculative purposes, then the pressure to sell would be much more. In the absence of such pressure, the land owners will just hold on till the sunny day as they have nothing to lose. Though this kind of psychology has drastically reduced the actual number of transaction, the reduced activity has not had any impact on the price line leading to status quo and stability.
The local real estate market has also benefitted from the typical small town mentality of locals favouring the locals. Says a leading real estate consultant: “In a small town like Mangalore where everyone knows everyone else, the natural tendency is to buy from someone you know. Moreover, the local builders know the local climate, topography and consumer preferences and their projects become more appealing to the buyer. The local builders also stand by the customers by providing good after sales service.”
It is also no wonder that builders who are doing well these days are those with a solid trade background. Land Links, Inland Developers and Land Trades were all real estate broking firms and ventured into the projects much after the Great Fall of ’98. Their sound field knowledge and access to wide clientele gives them a firm footing to build on.
Watchful of the spurt in economic activity in the past few years, several big builders from outside have been eying Mangalore. Bangalore-based builders like Skyline Constructions, Brigade and Prestige have launched their own projects in Mangalore. Big time corporates like Godrej and Sahara too have been trying to make inroads in this market. But the local builders continue to enjoy the confidence of the market and the outside entities are having a tough time to set the ball rolling.
Another blessing in disguise has been the tighter regulations. Few years back when construction activity was rampant, builders openly flouted the rules and put up structures as they wished with neither any regard for the rules nor any respect for public interest. The culprits could indulge in such audacious actions mainly because they were confident that such illegal structures could be regularized later after greasing a few hands.
This led to public outrage and many civic activists took up the cause and launched protest movements against the builder lobby. As a result of this the Mangalore City Corporation was forced to clamp down on the builders and come up with fool proof regulations. The City Development Plan (CDP), which provides a blue print for the city’s future was revamped and a new CDP was prepared to address the present needs and concerns. Says Siraj Ahmed of Inland Builders- “The new CDP has cleared all earlier ambiguity in rules and regulations governing large buildings and created a good professional climate from which both builders and buyers can benefit.”
However despite the upbeat mood, the main buyers continue to be affluent people like NRIs, business community and software engineers. Apart from a few notable exceptions, low cost housing for the masses continues to be a pipe dream. With even the cheapest apartment costing upward of Rs. 30 lakh, the common man cannot hope to have a house of his own in the city in the near future.The builders too cannot be blamed considering the increase in Central taxation and the spiralling costs of construction materials. Commercial projects too continue to be risky ventures and takers are few for expensive office space.
Seen in proper perspective, the last decade has been a period of maturing for the real estate industry of Mangalore and it seems to have emerged wiser after the last debacle. This can only mean good news for the consumers and it can only be hoped that all this will translate into practical long term solutions to the housing problems concerning the common man.
Tall, Taller, Tallest
Inland Windsors,Airport Road, Mangalore by Inland Developers
If Inland Windsors, a 26 storied apartment complex on Airport Road in Mangalore, a prestigious and ambitious project of Inland Developers, is all likely to be the tallest apartment complex in Mangalore, in the neighbouring Manipal, a 31-storey residential complex called Royal Embassy is in the making and which by all means would be the tallest structure in the whole of Karnataka with several firsts to its credit. Consolidated Construction Consortium Ltd (CCCL), India’s second largest construction company has been entrusted with the responsibility of the construction by the promoters MM Builders.
Royal Embassy, Manipal by MM Builders
Royal Embassy will have the educational hub Manipal’s first ever shopping mall. Spread over 3.38 acres of land behind MAHE library on Manipal end point road, Royal Embassy will house 402 apartments. It has four blocks and designed in a manner in which most of the apartment dwellers could get a view of the sea.
Siliconia, Kuttar Junction, Mangalore University Road
As the city of Mangalore is fast progressing and witnessing a sea change in its look with sky scrapers adorning the lovely coastal city, even the suburbs are witnessing brisk activities in the real estate sector. Particularly the coming up of IT park at Konaje, has been the driving force behind the venture Siliconia, a 20-floor residential complex coming up at Kuttar Junction.
Siliconia is promoted by Mohtisham, one of city’s leading real estate group and co-promoted by Property Real Estate and Developers. Spread over a 2.75 acre land, Siliconia will have 400 flats and is expected to be ready to occupate by 2012.