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Trends in India's booming realty market
Gargi Gupta in New Delhi
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December 29, 2007
The real estate boom has been with us for a few years now. Apartment blocks that meet every lifestyle aspiration, multi-million square feet commercial and retail complexes, malls, roads, SEZs and other large infrastructure projects - over the last couple of years, these have become par for the course. So what, if any, are the new trends in Indian real estate?

Going green

Green is in, in a big way. According to estimates by the CII-Sohrabjee Godrej [Get Quote] Green Building Centre, as much as 22 million sq ft of green building space is at the planning or construction stage right now - just four years ago, there was only 20,000 sq ft.

Earlier this year, the Indian Green Building Council came up with a localised version of the ratings system, Leadership in Energy and Environment Design, Leed-India, while Teri announced its more indigenous product, Teri-Griha.

But what's more heartening, says Bimal Patel, Ahmedabad-based architect, is that mainstream developers now want designs that are more in keeping with the Indian context, not copies of something they saw and liked abroad. "Even a few years ago, that wouldn't have happened. It's a very heartening thing."

Bigger the better

The other trend is towards the big and bigger, especially in the retail sector. Take The Great India Place in Noida, Unitech's 15 lakh sq ft "shoppertainment" destination which opened earlier this year.

Just across the road is coming up DLF's Town Square, another humungous 15 lakh sq ft mall. Gurgaon, of course, has been the mall capital of India but now they've just got brasher and bigger. Ambi Mall (18 lakh sq ft) opened earlier this year, and Mall of India, DLF's 39 lakh sq ft monstrosity along National Highway 8, is due to open in a year and a half.

"This is the season for large malls," says Rahul Saraf who built Forum, Kolkata's first mall (rather small at just 2 lakh sq ft) and is now engaged with the 9 lakh sq ft Forum II mall on the EM Bypass.

"As the mall culture matures, consumers will look for everything under a single roof." But not all builders are looking to pander to the small (albeit growing fast) section of middle and upper-middle class Indians - some have realised that there is gold to be made at the bottom of the pyramid.

Low-cost housing

A new trend in the residential sector, a trend that is still in the making but could come to a head in the next few years, is that of low-cost housing.

Shapoorji Pallonji launched a mass housing project, SP Shukhobrishti, in New Town, Kolkata, earlier this year, which will have 12,000 one-bedroon flats and 8,000 two-bedroom flats priced at around Rs 2.85 lakh and Rs 5.70 lakh.

A private equity fund, Red Fort Capital Advisors, has lined up Rs 800 crore for investing in low-cost housing in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore. Cross subsidy, public-private partnership and the use of innovative construction techniques are some of the ways these companies are meeting the huge demand.

Through the looking glass

Some things don't change - the fascination with glass, for example. Three out of four offices will still have facades of glass. You only have to go to Gurgaon to check out how glass, for Indian architects and designers, has come to represent upward mobility.

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