Homes along Hooghly

Developers seem to have found a gold mine in riverside properties, both as week-end getaways and as first homes.



Life along the river Hooghly is all set to take a new meaning as real estate developers in the city and the suburbs have zeroed in on the concept of owning riverside homes. From premium condominiums to country homes, from resorts to budget flats, developers are cashing in on the buyers' sentiment to own a “home along the riverbanks”. Developers seem to have hit up on a gold mine in riverside properties.

LUXURY LIVING

Says Mr Harsh Neotia, Chairman, Ambuja Realty: “We came out with an offering titled Ganga Awas in 2009 which were a series of country homes. The response to it was very encouraging.”

Ganga Awas, the first of its kind of riverside project, with residences in the price band of Rs 20 lakh to a crore. Work on the project began in 2009.

Developers say that after “luxury living” and second homes , interest in week-end getaways came to the forefront. High disposable incomes and easy EMI payment options are driving demand for riverside properties.

“The concept of second homes work well if they are just a drive away from a metro. There is no need to make elaborate plans,” Mr Neotia told Business Line. Ganga Awas , located in Raichak - a small town along the river Hooghly in South 24 Parganas, is around 50 km from Kolkata.

FIRST HOME CONCEPT

Historically too, living along the riverside has been considered as a luxury restricted to the Bengal nobility and the landlords, the traditional ‘zamindaars'. Not everyone could afford a second home.



Real estate developers are now pushing the concept for a first home in such a luxury location. Riverbank Holdings, offers apartments and flats to buyers in Batanagar located around 10 km from the city.

Riverbank Holdings is a joint venture between the footwear major Bata, the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) and Calcutta Metropolitan Group. The project, called Calcutta Riverside, will have 250-odd apartments on the river while the budget apartments have access to the river. “Budget apartments will not be on the riverbank, but they will have access to the river,” Mr Sumit Dabriwala, Managing Director, Riverbank Holdings told Business Line.

Apartments are priced accordingly between Rs 29 lakh and Rs 1.44 crore depending on the location of the apartments.

“We intend to hand over some of the apartments by the end of this year. Most of the apartments have been booked ,” Mr Dabriwala added, emphasising the growing demand for riverside properties. Mr Mayank Saxena, Managing Director, Kolkata, at real estate consultancy firm Jones Lang LaSalle, India, too maintained that there lies a huge untapped potential in the concept of promoting riverside properties.

“You have a Ganga Awas which is more of a second home concept and then the Calcutta Riverside projects where the stress is on a first home concept.

Potential in this area is huge considering the demand for such properties,” he said. Mr Saxena added that since cost of maintenance and other expenditures are taken care of by developers, the burden on a home buyer is relatively less.

SUBURBS VERSUS METRO

Interestingly, if one considers the popularity of riverside properties, suburbs have been quick to cash in on the trend faster than in the metropolis. Huge outhouses built by erstwhile ‘zamindaars' and guest house belonging to jute mills in small towns such as Uttarpara, Konnagar and Baidyabati are giving way to condominium projects. There has been a small but steady demand for such properties in the suburbs.

Mr Hemkumar Banthia, Executive, Chitra Estate and Credit Pvt. Ltd, said: “There lies a very good opportunity in exploring riverside properties. Moreover, a traditional Bengali sentiment is always associated with this sort of property.”

Chitra Estate and Credit Pvt Ltd. is carrying out a project in Baidyabati, Hooghly – called River Breeze - where it is providing budget flats along the riverside. Flats are priced Rs 11 lakh onwards. Baidyabati is around 30 km from Kolkata. A number of flats in the project are located along the river banks.

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