The real estate sector may be in the grip of a slowdown, but it has not deterred deals in the high-end segment.
In what could become one of the largest real estate transactions in India’s financial capital, the Poonawalla family, owners of biotech major Serum Institute of India, has bought the iconic Lincoln House in the posh Breach Candy area of Mumbai for about Rs 800 crore.
The deal was signed between the Poonawalla family and the US Consulate — the current owners of Lincoln House — and includes the transfer of a 900-year lease on the property to the family.
“The talks had been going on for more than a month now and only late last month we shook hands to close the deal,” Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute, told HT. “The process took some time as we had to work with the government to transfer the lease. We thought it was a good price given the location. I like living in the Breach Candy area and Lincoln House is not very far from where my current Mumbai house is,” he added.
The Lincoln House, originally known as the Wankaner House, was owned by the Maharaja of Wankaner, a princely state near Rajkot in Gujarat and is spread over 2 acres with a built-up area of 50,000 square feet.
Faced with rising taxes after the accession of princely states after Independence, Maharaja Pratapsinhji Jhala Wankaner leased the property to the US in 1957. It was renamed Lincoln House and housed the US Consulate till 2011, after which the latter shifted to its current location in Bandra-Kurla.
Real estate is typically at a sharp premium in land-starved Mumbai where scarcity of area has forced the government to push for re-development programmes in downtown Mumbai. Old, closed textile mills in central Mumbai are being torn down to build high rises where an average two-bedroom apartment is priced upwards of Rs 5 crore.
However south Mumbai, which is home to pre-Independence structures, has seen ownership change hands between large business families at deals much higher than the prevailing market rate.
Early September, in a similar high-value transaction, Aditya Birla group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla bought another iconic property in Mumbai, the Jatia House, for about Rs 425 crore.