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Looking Ahead - December 15, 2006 (

Lifestyle properties are making a mark in SoBo like never before Looking Ahead

The amount of land locked into the heart of the city shows impressive statistics. But the industry doesn"t seem too optimistic. According to Uday Mathur of Trammell Crow Meghraj, "It is inevitable that the opening of land which has been so far locked will only lead to further congestion. The city"s infrastructure which is already strained will be unable to cope with the new development."

Solution? "Infrastructural development has to be in tandem with realty," hopes Mathur.
Experts also add that the opening up of certain pockets will not have a major impact on the city as a whole. While a sub-region may benefit from the downward pressure on existing prices, it is a very localised pricing correction.

Says Mathur, "Timing is the key to predicting if the city as a whole will change drastically with the thousands of acres being freed. But in all likelihood there will be a sporadic release of land which will not do much to mitigate the drastic discrepancy between supply and demand. Only when one is aware of how much land and when it"ll be released in the market can one plan a future for the city."

While everyone is praising New Delhi and the NCR as instances of well-planned cities, will Mumbai be forever deprived? By releasing land in pockets instead of in chunks, are we creating management in the chaos or just creating further chaos?

SoBo still sought after
Between 1995 and 2000 several commercial ventures shifted from Nariman Point and other locations in South Mumbai to the suburbs. There was an aura of South Mumbai loosing it"s charm.

But talk realty and SoBo hasn"t really died. Natasha and James D"silva bought a home at Lower Parel two years ago and the prices have almost tripled since. Says D"silva, "I always wanted to be in town - even after I moved to Bandra. But with price points at Malabar Hill and the rest of the regions here, I would have had to compromise on the quality of building, which I did not." Then came Lower Parel.
Now with not much new development in South Mumbai, the demand is high as are the prices. Nariman Point, New Marine Lines, Tardeo, Lower Parel are under the scanner. But there are also hitherto unseen options in lifestyle properties.

Beginning at the southern-most tip of Cuffe Parade there is the Mittals Grandeur, a lifestyle redefined luxury tower rising from the depths of a heritage bungalow, with terrace decks and duplex apartments in the 6,000 square feet range. Nepean Sea Road, too, is witnessing its own foray into lifestyle options with the recently sold Cama bungalow - bought for Rs 110 crore - being converted into a building with homes worth Rs 18 crore upwards. Of course at midtown Worli, K Rahega Universal and Oberoi constructions are developing trendy, uber luxurious homes going from Rs 18-22 crore.

There are quite a few reasons for this trend. The economy is booming and people are increasingly opting for a better lifestyle. People want to savour their income rather than save it. Another major factor is the entry of various MNCs here.

- Chetan D Narain
Director, NARAINS CORP, property consultants & realtors