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Home > Business > Special

Why Kochi has an exciting future

Ravi Teja Sharma in New Delhi | February 03, 2007

This small town on the south-west coast of the Indian peninsula was the site of the first European colonial settlement in India by the Portuguese, way back in 1503. Kochi (Cochin) was occupied by the Dutch as well as the British. Some of that colonial heritage still lives on in its buildings.

Lately, however, this sleepy trading town has woken up. Dubai Port International, in a joint venture with the Cochin Port Trust, is handling the Container Transshipment Terminal at Vallarpadam.

There is an international bunkering terminal, a ship repair facility, a CNG terminal as well as an international cruise ship terminal at Kochi port. Kochi was also the first city in India to have an international airport built under public-private partnership.

Today, Kochi is a growing centre for information technology, tourism and international trade. All of these factors have fuelled the demand for more accommodation, office space, retail space as well as hospitality services.

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According to Knight Frank Research, there is a demand for 50,000 apartments, which should be met in the next 2-3 years. There are various residential projects, some under construction and others at planning stage. Most major national players are already in Kochi.

This includes the likes of Puravankara Projects, Sobha Developers, Prestige Group, Emaar-MGF and Brigade Group, apart from several local players like Abad, Skyline Builders, Mather, JCB Estates, Great India Estates. Sahara Infrastructure & Housing and Unitech have both acquired land in the city but have revealed no fixed plans.

The city is seeing many new developments. A new ring road, a coastal highway and the new airport-seaport road are some of the developments that Srinivas Anikipatti, regional director, Colliers International talked about.

The poshest area in Kochi is its Marine Drive, some parts of MG Road, which is also the retail and hospitality hub of the city, Chittoor Road and Shanmugham Road.

The off-prime locations are Thevara Junction, Panampally Nagar, Edapally Junction and Palarivattam Junction. A lot of new residential activity is happening in the emerging areas of Kakkanad, Kelamassery Road, the NH-47 bypass, Thirupunithura and Mardu Junction.

Some of the very high-end properties are coming up on Marine Drive. Puravankara Projects has the Grand Bay at Marine Drive where the rates are already Rs 4,000-4,500 per sq ft and apartments cost Rs 80 lakh upwards.

"These are large units with marble flooring, a suspended pool on the fifth floor, a triple height lobby and huge balconies to enjoy the sea," says Naina Cariappa, VP, sales and marketing, Puravankara Projects.

They have another project planned at Marine Drive called Oceania. Other areas where they have residential projects are Kakkanad and Edapally. "At Kakkanad, the cost is about Rs 1,800-1,900 per sq ft," she says.

Others on Marine Drive include the Bangalore-based Prestige Group, which has a project called Neptune Courtyard, and the Abad Group.

Local player Skyline Builders too is in the high-end game. Their project at Kaloor called the Imperial Garden has 300 apartments, which cost between Rs 1,700-2,600 per sq ft (roughly Rs 40-60 lakh for 3-4 bedroom apartments).

Great India Estates is also planning 4-bedroom apartments of over 3,000 sq ft space at Kakkanad. "These will be priced at over Rs 3,000 per sq ft," informs managing director E M Najeeb.

There is rising demand for new houses from NRIs. Malayalee NRIs from across the globe are starting to invest in Kochi. Abdul Azeez, MD Skyline Builders, informs that about 60 per cent of all their projects has been booked by NRIs.

At Puravankara, the figure is even higher. "Eighty per cent of our bookings are coming from NRI clients who are either looking at investing here or getting their second home," informs Cariappa.

Kochi currently has no malls; however, by 2009, the city is expected to have six malls covering a built-up area of 1.60 million sq ft, according to Cushman & Wakefield. Malls like Forum (expected to have 1 million+ sq ft of space), Lulu Mall, Aerens Gold Souk, Abad Mall, Metro One, Mall O, The Summit (to be spread over 12 floors) and Kalyan Mall are being planned. There have been reports that DLF too is looking at a mall-cum-hotel project in the city, near Marine Drive.

One can only hope that developers will not turn parts of Kochi into replicas of Gurgaon, what with all these malls and apartment complexes being developed in the city.

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