Fortunes made on Alibaug’s hills | india | Hindustan Times
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Fortunes made on Alibaug’s hills

Alibaug, which has been a status symbol for Mumbai’s jet-setters, is running out of land for them to build their second home, reports Lalatendu Mishra.

india Updated: May 12, 2008 03:22 IST
Lalatendu Mishra

For a while now, owning a sea-facing bungalow or farmhouse that flaunts an Alibaug pincode has been a status symbol for Mumbai’s jet-setters, a mark that they have arrived.

As India’s growing economy propels more and more Mumbaiites up the social ladder, Alibaug is running out of land for them to build their second (or perhaps ninth) home. And that’s how 38-year-old private equity investor Deven Mehta will make his kill — he owns 105 acres of a hill in this real estate goldmine.

Three years ago, Mehta purchased 105 acres on a hill with a sea-facing view called Kankeshwari Estate for less than Rs 50 crore. Mehta now plans to sell plots on his part of the hill — located 15 minutes away from the Mandwa jetty, which is 45 minutes by jetty from the Gateway — at Rs 5 crore an acre. Going by that rate, the property value stands at Rs 525 crore.

Mehta, who has been in the stock market for over a decade and has made his money primarily from it, is confident he will find takers. “One thing is clear and that is that land is not available in Alibaug, and the location of my property is unique,” said the commerce graduate who built a three-storeyed bungalow for himself on eight acres of the hill plot just last year.

Alibaug’s inhabitants agree. “Locals have no land to sell. Brokers and new land owners have driven this market crazy after pumping in stock market profits,” said Suresh Bhave who deals with land in Alibaug.

Locals say Alibaug’s the same as it used to be — beautiful beaches and a cluster of villages close to Mumbai. What changed, according to them, are the people who are buying land. “The Godrejs, Vijay Mallya and Ratan Tata, who have been staying here for decades, never publicised their presence,” Amar Warde, social worker and journalist.

“But the nouveau riche have created a hype and as a result land prices have gone through the ceiling,” he added.

Mehta’s advantage is that he’s not selling a plot of land but a lifestyle. “I go to my Alibaug bungalow often on weekends. You get real peace of mind in a tranquil environment,” said Mehta, who is the director of Sage Capital Advisors and S J Group of companies. But he does not spend 45 minutes on the catamaran to get to Mandwa. “It takes me just 12 minutes by my speed boat.”

It’s precisely the kind of lifestyle those aspiring for a second address in Alibaug seek. “Of my 105 acres, I will sell 30 acres to individual buyers; the rest is where a boutique hotel can be developed,” he revealed.

A struggling exporter in the early 90s, Mehta admits he is worth more than Rs 1,000 crore now. And he’s going to get richer still.