The real estate boom in Nagpur seems to be evading the prestigious Empress Mills project.
The Tayals, the developers of the Rs 400 crore project, find themselves in a Catch-22 situation. Even as builders in Nagpur are making a fast buck on the growing demand in the city, the Tayals – owners KSL and Industries – are struggling with a lukewarm response.
Once the flagship of the Tatas, the Empress Mills founded by Sir Jamshedji Tata, was sold by the Maharashtra State Textile Corporation (MSTC) to the Tayal family-promoted KSL & Industries. The 35-acre mill complex, on the embankment of Gandhi Sagar Lake, to be christened 'Empress City', will now host an IT park, a five-star hotel, a 3-lakh sq ft mall and a series of upmarket residential towers.
Though the company is getting good response for its commercial mall, IT park and five-star hotel; the residential complex has been cold-shouldered due to the 'exorbitant' booking rates being demanded by the Tayals. Moreover, the super-rich targeted by the developers are wary of paying such high prices for a congested locality.
The asking rate for Empress City properties is Rs 4,100 per sq feet, Rs 3-lakh for parking space and an additional Rs 15 per sq feet for development charges. The cost of a 2 BHK flat thus comes to around Rs 70 lakh – way beyond the normal budget of an average middle class Nagpur resident. Over 50 per cent flats in the complex are yet to be booked even though the project was launched one year ago.
The promoters have spent Rs 100 crore in purchasing and developing the property and were aiming to complete it by December 2007. This now seems unlikely considering the delays because of court cases and other hurdles.
The promoters said that it would have 600 luxury residential apartments, along with facilities like a club house, swimming pools, health club, jogging park, playgrounds, indoor games complex and community halls in the complex. A round-the-clock power backup service is also being arranged.
The promoters have, however, roped in the best names in the construction industry for the project. The structural consultants for the project are YS Sane & Associates, while the contractors are Shapoorji Pallonji & Company.
Singapore-based Site Concepts will be the landscaping consultants, while Trammel Crow Meghraj will be the property management consultant.
"The rate of residential complexes even in posh Civil Lines, Ramdaspeth and Shivaji Nagar in the city have not crossed Rs 3,000 per sq feet. How can people pay such a rate in that congested Cotton Market area in old city?" pointed out Shishir Diwte of Rachna Construction, a well-known city builder.
Anand Kumar, an executive engineer in the local urban development authority – the Nagpur Improvement Trust — also feels that the rate is excessive and out of reach for typical Nagpurians. Junaid Shaikh of Empress City conceded that the pricing of the project was excessive and admitted that 50 per cent flats in the complex are yet to be booked.
This is not to say that the real estate boom in Nagpur has petered out. Good infrastructure, better healthcare and the location of a multi-nodal international cargo hub in the city continue to make property buying attractive.