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Navi Mumbai: The next big realty hotspot

Last updated on: March 28, 2013 07:41 IST

Navi Mumbai: The next big realty hotspot

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Ranjita Ganesan in Mumbai

The picturesque Palm Beach Road is being touted as Navi Mumbai's answer to Marine Drive.

For those looking to settle away from the crowds yet enjoy the city's luxuries at a lower cost, the upmarket area is an attractive prospect.

Mumbai can rarely boast about good roads. On the other hand, Navi Mumbai has an abundance of clean, well-laid boulevards.

The best among these is the picturesque six-lane Palm Beach Road near Vashi, which borders an enormous expanse of thick mangroves and a sea front.

Touted by many as Navi Mumbai's answer to Marine Drive, this area is the most coveted residential address in the satellite city.

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Image: Palm Beach Road, Navi Mumbai.
Photographs: Nicholas/Wikimedia Commons.
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Healthy infrastructure has been a strong selling point for most localities in Navi Mumbai, which was planned by the City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra.

As several schools, malls and hospitals come up, Navi Mumbai has been developing into a self-sufficient township that is no longer just the refuge of middle-class families on the hunt for affordable housing.

Palm Beach Road is the affluent extension of fast-growing Vashi, once a sparsely-populated area.  The region's premium status can be attributed to its strategic location - it connects various parts of Navi Mumbai and is in proximity to the proposed airport, the Mumbai Trans Harbour Sea Link and the Navi Mumbai SEZ.

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For those looking to settle away from the crowded parts of Mumbai but still enjoy its luxuries, Palm Beach Road is an attractive prospect, says Madhur Panghaal of Nerul-based real estate agency Sky Properties.

Several families are moving from places like Chembur and Mulund. When their houses go in for redevelopment, they get Rs 2-3 crore, which they choose to spend on a big apartment here, notes Panghaal.

Startup businessman Samudra Bhuyan, who divides his time between Pune and Mumbai, lives in rented accommodation in the locality. "The biggest draw was good roads. It makes commuting hassle-free," he says. Another draw is the availability of apartments with appealing views "for almost reasonable prices. Think poor man's Queen's Necklace."

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Photographs: Courtesy, Haware Builders.
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The prices here, however, would make poor men do a double take. The per-square foot range is Rs 10,000-18,000.

The apartments are usually sprawling with two, three or four bedrooms and areas upward of 1,000 square feet. Large 2-BHKs are priced at Rs 1-4 crore, while luxurious 4- to 6-BHKs can cost between Rs 12 crore and Rs 21 crore.

Renting a 2-BHK flat can cost Rs 30,000 per month, which is on a par with rates in prosperous suburbs like Andheri and Malad.

In comparison to Palm Beach's counterpart in South Mumbai, these rates are somewhat cheap. Property prices at Marine Drive stand at a lofty Rs 48,000 per square foot.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Haware Builders.
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Businessmen, industrialists and professionals who may not be able to afford a house in South Mumbai snap up property on Palm Beach Road. "But this is not just an investor's market," explains Anant Wagh, a sales manager at Wadhwa Group. "People are buying houses to move in soon after."

It is also the preferred address for well-heeled employees of corporate offices that have been established in Navi Mumbai.

Wadhwa's Palm Beach Residency project, with six towers and more than 600 apartments, has sold most houses and is close to possession. Palm Beach Road property values have tripled over the last four years.

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Image: Palm Beach Residency.

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Developers including Akshar and Bhumi Raj, which have a strong presence in Navi Mumbai, are among the other players with big projects on Palm Beach Road. CIDCO has planned the city in a way that land available for construction is limited, says Wagh.

Adding to this, an increasing demand for houses has resulted in steep price tags. They could climb to Rs 25,000-30,000 per square foot in coming years, Wagh expects.

Benefits from the bigger infrastructure projects, which are grappling with delays, could take years to kick in. The proposed airport once again hit a block as land purchases stopped following problems in compensation talks with farmers.

The sea link was delayed because of a prolonged bidding process and the wait for environmental clearance. It is expected to be completed only around 2019.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Akshar Developers.
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The new constructions are mostly tall apartment complexes. Some old buildings are being razed to erect high-rises.

These projects come with the predictable amenities of upscale gated communities: a clubhouse, swimming pool, parks and shopping centres.

Some like Palm Beach Residency have sky jogging tracks atop buildings. Most houses also come with the rare thrill of balconies, a concept that is fading in Mumbai.

As is common with rich neighbourhoods, things somehow seem to work better. The sleek lamp posts, traffic signals and all signage on Palm Beach Road are intact and functional. Residents of Navi Mumbai had to face frequent load shedding in the past but that has stopped over the last two years.

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Image: Bhumi Raj shopping complex.
Photographs: Courtesy, Bhumi Raj.
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The calm, curving eight-kilometre Palm Beach stretch, however, has a deadly alter-ego. It got the title "killer road", due to rash drivers who often ended up crashing. The area witnessed over 50 accidents in 2012.

Modern speedbreakers or rumble strips were laid but that hasn't entirely deterred reckless driving.

Tall complexes with hundreds of apartments could lead to more crowds and increased traffic as each household here has one or two cars, says real estate agent Panghaal.

Sparkling BMWs and Audis are a fairly common sight now, leading most newly-constructed buildings to offer multiple levels of parking space.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Akshar Developers.
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Two years ago, about 21 high-rise buildings in the area were found to be violating Floor Space Index rules. Some buildings regularised the illegalities and settled the matter.

These issues have not deterred buyer interest, Panghaal says. "But buyers should verify the builder's track record and check the legal status before making their decision," he advises.

The district will continue to claim a premium of about 25 per cent over the rest of Navi Mumbai on account of its scenery, predicts Ashutosh Limaye, head of research and real estate intelligence services at Jones Lang LaSalle. "One side is completely open with the sea front; that beautiful view will remain intact."

The lack of compact one-bedroom apartments is one of the few drawbacks in the region and Limaye does not expect a change in the situation. "That is a market function. And it is also understandable because it is a posh district."

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Photographs: Courtesy, Bhumi Raj Group.
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Pros:

Connectivity: easy access to key parts of Navi Mumbai, proximity to the proposed airport, Mumbai Trans Harbour Sea Link and the Navi Mumbai SEZ
View: a vast, green stretch of mangroves as well as the sea front
Infrastructure: roads are broad and well-maintained with lamp-posts, signals and signage. No problems of water and electricity

Cons:

Past legal issues: at least 21 instances of FSI violations were detected and probed in 2011. Some builders made changes in the construction to settle the matter
Road safety: cases of reckless driving and over 50 accidents reported in 2012
No small apartments: given the area's premium appeal, compact one-bedroom flats are not being built

Buyer's checklist:

Check builders' track record. Talk to residents of their previous projects
Verify legal permissions. The Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation can confirm if the projects are clean
Ensure that the building has adequate parking space


Photographs: Courtesy, Swaraj Builders.
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