Bangalore: Eight years after construction began at the Imperial twin towers project in Mumbai, its developers have finally received the mandatory occupancy certificate to start handing over homes to buyers.
The Rs1,200 crore project, India’s most expensive residential address, has been bogged down by legal issues over the dangers its construction posed to the stability of Cumballa hill, on which it was being built.
Stability hurdle: The project, which comprises two 827ft tall, 60-storey towers, has been bogged down for years by legal issues. Ashesh Shah / Mint
It also raised fears that the project might never be completed and put off a number of potential buyers. At least one third of its apartments are yet to be sold.
At 827tf, the Imperial is India’s highest skyscaper. It comprises two 60-storeyed towers, with 228 apartments of up to 10,000 sq. ft. overlooking the Arabian Sea and the Mahalaxmi Race Course. The apartments are priced between Rs8.5 crore and Rs90 crore.
Mumbai’s municipal corporation issued the occupancy certificate to developers SD Corp. in January, and the handing over of apartments began in February.
Despite its prime location, it has been a challenging maiden project for SD Corp., a joint venture of India’s oldest construction company Shapoorji Pallonji and Co. Ltd and entrepreneur Dilip Thacker.
“We saw a lot of potential in the project for its location, scale and opportunity,” said Amit Thacker, director, SD Corp. The project was conceived in the mid-1990s. The relocation of some 2,500 slum dwellers began in 1999 to make space for the construction, which took off in 2002.
The same year, Usha Kiran Cooperative Housing Society moved the Bombay high court against the project, saying the excavation will endanger Cumballa hill. The society cited the instance of another excavation for a project that had caused a portion of the hill to collapse.
A committee from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, set up on the high court’s order, suggested remedial measures to ensure the stability of the hill. In 2009, the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) was appointed to supervise the implementation of the panel’s recommendations.
“Too much construction on a hill can lead to weathering action, which then needs to use some protection measures,” said MHADA chief engineer D.R. Hadadare. “Mhada will see to it that the developers complete the process,” he said.
SD Corp. is yet to sell about 35% of the apartments, although sales began in 2004.
Property consultants say high net-worth individuals—the project’s target clientele—have given mixed reactions to Imperial.
“I haven’t been able to sell any apartment because investors are still not sure if the project is involved in any litigation, though it’s a prime property, along with the high price,” said S.G. Maheshwari, a property consultant.
But an official of real estate service provider Axiom Estates said he had sold apartments to Indian businessmen in the UK over the past year, when the project was nearing completion. He spoke on condition of anonymity.
In future, SD Corp. will focus on residential and redevelopment projects in Mumbai, Pune and Alibaug, said a company official, who did not want to be named.
It has bought 200 acres in Hinjewadi near Pune for a township and has a huge redevelopment project in suburban Mumbai, among others.
It also plans to build a third tower at Imperial, which could be taller, according to Suleman Budhwani, vice-president, business development, SD Corp.