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The new avatar of Vizag
Ravi Teja Sharma in New Delhi
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January 13, 2007

Visakhapatnam is being promoted as the second-best city in Andhra Pradesh after Hyderabad -- and quite similar to the latter's development, one side of Visakhapatnam towards Madhurvada is being developed as the knowledge city.

The other side from the steel plant to Elamanchili will be the hub of industrial activity. And with industries coming in, housing too is being planned in a big way. This port city is already seeing announcements of a rising number of residential projects.

What's even better, developers are concentrating on land area along the beach side promising uninterrupted views of the sea to those who want to invest here.

While nature is very much on Visakhapatnam's side what with the beautiful port city complete with beautiful beaches, green hills, breathtaking valleys and dense jungles, the weather here also remains favourable throughout the year.

On the industrial side, it has a big steel plant, a world-class port and a huge ship-building yard. Then there's a huge engineering talent that Andhra University churns out every year.

Eyeing this talent pool are IT companies that have already started venturing into the city. Satyam, TCS, Wipro and others like Symbiosys Technologies, Color Chips, Nu NET Technologies, Kenexa, we hear, have already acquired land in the city and there are many more companies in the fray. In fact, some say Visakhapatnam could be the next IT hub in Hyderabad.

Singapore-based Jurong in partnership with KSR Group is doing three different residential projects in Visakhapatnam. KSR Group's director, B G Reddy, has shared information that the KSR Group has residential projects in Visakhapatnam worth Rs 2,300 crore (Rs 23 billion) at the moment.

At Rushikonda, KSR-Jurong are developing 54 villas on 13 acres of land, called Sunny Isles. This project is on the beach road and will offer individual east facing villas, each with an amazing sea view. The project management and architecture is being handled by Jurong India.

According to Kartik Ram, principal architect, Jurong India, these villas will be contemporary Mediterranean villas which are being designed very functionally to suit Indian tastes.

"Andhra Pradesh is highly finicky about vaastu, so all houses are perfectly vaastu compliant and face the east on a sloping hill," he says. Vaastu has been incorporated into contemporary design here.

Reddy says that initially when the project was launched about a year ago, each of these villas could be bought at Rs 70 lakh (Rs 7 million). Today the resale price is over Rs 2 crore (Rs 20 million).

The best feature of these villas is the second-floor master bedroom which has two balconies, one facing the east and one the west. Perfect for those who want to see the sunrise towards the sea and sunset behind the hills on the west. Since Visakhapatnam has a strong NRI base, Reddy says that 30 villas have been bought by NRIs alone.

On a 40-acre site in Madhurvada area of Visakhapatnam, the same team is building a total of 2,002 apartments and 12 towers with 10 floors will house these apartments. These are targeted at lower-middle income and higher-income families.

"The preference of people has started moving from small apartment complexes to larger multi-towered gated community developments," explains Reddy.

This gated community apartment complex will also include a club house, swimming pool, hospital, school and a community hall and the price range of these apartments is between Rs 15-30 lakh (Rs 1.5-3 million).

"We are also going to target the employees of a number of IT companies coming up in Madhurvada," reveals Reddy. These people should prefer a place which is closer to work.

At Yendada, which is also close to Madhurvada, KSR-Jurong is developing a number of villas, condominiums, budget apartments, some IT spaces, a shopping mall-cum -multiplex as well as a five-star hotel. The master planning of this Rs 1,800 crore (Rs 18 billion) project is in progress at the moment. This again promises to attract the cream of the IT crowd.

The Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority (VUDA) is itself involved in a slew of housing programmes. The chairman of VUDA, PSN Raju informed that they are doing two LIG housing schemes at Kapuluppada and Kurmannapalem.

At Rushikonda 88, three-bedroom duplex row houses are being planned on 6.78 acres of land. L&T too has entered Visakhapatnam, winning a bid for a 55-acre township project at Vepagunta in Visakhapatnam.

On the other side of town towards the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, Vizag Profiles Group is developing the Green Valley Township on 22 acres with 100 houses. "It will be a gated community development with integrated security at a investment of Rs 75 crore (Rs 750 million)," says B Suresh, director, Vizag Profiles Group.

Prajay Engineers Syndicate has launched the Prajay Harbour City, a large format integrated township opposite NTPC at Visakhapatnam. It will be spread over 149 acres and will have 1,044 independent houses. Prajay Engineers is investing Rs 55 crore (Rs 550 million) in the project.

Naturally, there is a buzz in real estate development in Visakhapatnam, especially as these residential projects are being received so well.

Some of the projects have seen 65-85 per cent bookings within the first two months of launching, says Malvika Chandra, head research at Knight Frank India.

The rates too have see a steady growth in this market over the last two years. "We expect the residential rates in Visakhapatnam to see a good 25-30 per cent growth over the next 2-3 years," says Chandra. Time to say, three cheers to investors?

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