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The real estate boom reaches east Delhi
Prakriti Prasad
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April 08, 2006

Remember the story of the Ugly Duckling, who was jeered and laughed at, only to grow up into a beautiful swan? That, in a nutshell, is the story of the trans-Yamuna region.

Till a few years back, the snob value of the capital ended just before the river; anybody or any locality beyond was clearly labelled down-market. For east Delhi had hardly anything to offer by way of entertainment, quality education or health care; one had to venture across the Yamuna to central or south Delhi for anything in the way of fun.

But not anymore. For the entire skyline of the trans-Yamuna region has changed remarkably in the last two-three years. While the Akshardham Temple on the banks of the river is the pride of the region, an increasing number of malls, multiplexes, amusement parks and entertainment hubs, as well as a plethora of well-planned townships, have put the region in a different league altogether.

No longer known as the locality for the less-endowed, every big brand today hastens to have a presence in the region that includes east Delhi, Noida, Greater Noida and Ghaziabad.

Small wonder then that rates of both commercial and residential properties in these regions have skyrocketed in the last couple of years. According to realtors, property rates in Indirapuram alone have registered a 70 per cent appreciation in the last one and a half years.

"While one could buy Shipra's prime residential property in Indirapuram for Rs 1,200 per sq ft two years ago, it easily costs over Rs 2,600 per sq ft today," says a top management official at Shipra Estate, which claims to be the first private developer to have ventured into this part of the city.

"We understood the potential in the area when no one wanted to come towards Indirapuram," maintains the official.

Strategically located between three cities (Delhi, Ghaziabad and Noida), Indirapuram's infrastructure is supposed to be its biggest strength. It also explains why the group built Shipra Mall in the area, which is now one of the largest malls (450,000 sq ft) in the country.

While realtors and property developers identify this sudden spurt as part of the universal phenomenon of the explosion of tier 2 cities across the country, corporates acknowledge the soaring economic potential of the people across the river.

"We realised the economy of east Delhi was on the growth path, as there was a discernible boom in consumer spending," points out Sujit Kumar, CEO and president, Aeren R Enterprises.

Kumar's positive feedback on the region probably led the group, a real estate and infrastructure comglomerate, to set up their first IMAX theatre in northern India at the Pacific Mall in Kaushambi, on the Delhi-Ghaziabad border.

Going by footfalls at the specialised theatre with girth screen, 14,000 watts of surround sound and stadium seating for 450 people, it certainly seems to have been a good decision, claims the group.

"While the average capacity utilisation of most multiplexes in metros hover around 25 per cent, we are already clocking between 40-50 per cent," says Kumar with satisfaction.

Evidently, good living is the buzzword here, and property developers appear to be giving oodles of attention to just that. For, besides developing offices and residential apartments, they are focused on providing social infrastructure, such as shopping malls, family entertainment centres, schools and hospitals, in a big way.

In contrast, the development carried out by Delhi Development Authority in, say, any south or central Delhi area seem to have no provision for entertainment except for poorly maintained parks.

"What is on offer in the trans-Yamuna region is certainly a better life as compared to Delhi, where all the infrastructure such as water, roads and drainage are severely strained," points out J B Goel, chairman, Express Developers.

The real estate group has the sprawling 1 million sq ft Express Gardens opposite Noida Electronic City to its credit. Having come up at a cost of Rs 200 crore (Rs 2 billion), all the 650 furnished luxury apartments promise to be Vaastu friendly. Another project of the group that's underway is the Express Plus Mall, which is being touted as one of the biggest shopping malls in Vasundhra City.

With more and more people realising the advantages of moving to the eastern suburbs of the capital, the developers are understandably making merry. While areas like Kaushambi, Patparganj and Mayur Vihar are already choc-a-bloc, they maintain, in another two years' time Indirapuram and even Greater Noida will be full.

"The advent of the Metro Rail and the Commonwealth Games are two watersheds that have spurred demand for property development in these regions," avers A S Aggarwal of MSX Developers behind the Golf Gardenia project at Greater Noida.

Spread over 120,000 sq ft, the 40 crore (400 million) residential project comprises four types of air-conditioned super deluxe apartments with price tags starting from Rs 40 lakh (Rs 4 million) and, for a duplex penthouse, averaging at Rs 90 lakh (Rs 9 million).

The group claims to have come up with an innovative concept of 80 service apartments with all the facilities of a five-star hotel at almost one-third its rate. With a tariff of Rs 4,000, Aggarwal sees a huge demand for his service apartments, which have furnished living rooms, bedrooms and offices along with small pantries.

"While Delhi has a requirement of 65,000 hotel rooms, the current capacity is only 30,000. And demand will rise manifold with the Commonwealth Games in 2010," he says confidently.

Meanwhile, even as a horde of property developers have been quick to make hay while the sun shines, there are a handful who are either standing on the periphery or have diverted their attention elsewhere.

So while the Rs 17,000 crore (Rs 170 billion) Majestic Properties have trained their eyes to Meerut instead, the Sahara Group has been waiting for necessary clearances from the government for their projects in Greater Noida and Ghaziabad.

"We focus on long term developments and are very particular about getting all the necessary clearances before launching our projects, unlike most developers," says Sunder Lal, senior advisor, Sahara Group.

On the growth path

Mall Count

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