Bangalore: One of his businesses gives people highs of one kind, and another takes them to highs of another kind. Now, billionaire Vijay Mallya, known as much for his liquor and airline businesses as for his flashy lifestyle, will try and serve yet another kind of high—to a select few.
Plush living: Vijay Mallya’s mansion in Bangalore. In association with Prestige Estates, Mallya is developing a luxury apartment block in Bangalore that will stand where his ancestral bungalow now does. Hemant Mishra / Mint
Mallya, in association with Prestige Estates Projects Pvt. Ltd, is developing K2, a luxury apartment block in central Bangalore that will stand where his ancestral bungalow now does. Prestige has a 45% stake in the development—a 33-storey complex, with six levels of parking, multiple tennis courts, swimming pools, and the additional benefit of the liquor baron for a neighbour.
Mallya will take the top three floors of the building, which will have 125 flats of 3,000 sq. ft and 6,000 sq. ft.
The development is already making waves in a city that remains a conservative and price-sensitive realty market where flats sell for Rs3,000-4,000 per sq. ft. In contrast, apartments in K2, which is a working name for the project and may be changed later, will sell for at least Rs20,000 per sq. ft, say property consultants. At that rate, a 3,000 sq. ft apartment will cost Rs6 crore and a 6,000 sq. ft one Rs12 crore.
Mallya and Prestige aren’t the only ones eyeing the super-luxury market in Bangalore. Dubai’s ETA Star Property Developers (P) Ltd, Skyline Constructions Ltd and Mantri Developers Pvt. Ltd too have set out to build multi-crore apartments at a time when conventional wisdom in the real estate business favours budget and mid-income homes.
Mallya and the corporate communications head of his UB Group could not be reached for comment.
“The concept of K2 is to own a palace in the sky, with the lower six floors reserved for parking,” said Irfan Razack, promoter of Prestige Estates. “Plans are being frozen and will be submitted for mandatory sanctions. We begin construction mid-year and expect to finish by 2013.”
Besides K2, Prestige Estates, which has filed for approval to make an initial offering of shares to the public, is building 5,000 sq. ft duplex apartments, each with its own garden, on Lavelle Road, near both K2 and UB City, a high-end retail and commercial development, and plans to sell these for around Rs7.5 crore each.
“The new trend of luxury apartments marks a paradigm shift in the development pattern of the city, which is known for its villas,” said Farook Mahmood, president of the Bangalore Realtors Association and chairman of Silverline Realty Pvt. Ltd, a property advisory. “People now want high-end homes in central locations, with a good view along with amenities and security.”
The recovery in Bangalore’s property market has been slower compared with Mumbai or Delhi, where luxury realty projects have made a comeback, but developers here are upbeat about finding buyers.
Skyline Constructions, a local developer, is constructing its most expensive project near Resthouse Road—a posh, residential neighbourhood.
The plan is to build a niche project with only six 7,000 sq. ft apartments in both single-level and duplex formats. Each apartment will cost Rs14-15 crore.
Two senior marketing executives at the company, none of whom wanted to be identified, said they would have no problems finding a buyer.
That’s a refrain other developers are singing as well.
In the past two months, Mahmood says he has closed deals in central Bangalore for apartments priced between Rs4 crore and Rs14 crore.
ETA Star’s 26-acre residential complex Greens, in west Bangalore, is around 40% unsold, but the company is still building Beau Monde, a building that will have 14 apartments, one on each floor. Each apartment will be priced at around Rs6 crore.
“Eight floors have already been constructed and the project has been designed by architect Umar Nissar,” said a spokesperson for ETA Star.
And Mantri Developers has launched its Espania project after the success of Mantri Altius, a luxury residential project in the city.
Espania has around 340 apartments and 24 penthouses, with prices starting at Rs1.15 crore and going up to Rs10 crore.
“There is a certain snob value attached to these projects and though it’s a relatively new phenomenon in Bangalore, we have seen good demand,” said Snehal Mantri, director (marketing) at Mantri Developers.
To be sure, luxury housing isn’t a new concept in India. Mumbai has featured in global housing surveys as one of the most expensive realty locations, with properties at south Mumbai’s Altamount Road priced at Rs98,500 a sq. ft.
Bangalore’s luxury market has been subdued in comparison, with most people in the city opting to buy land and build independent homes, however small, often with an attached garden.
Urban planners and property consultants believe the concept of high-end apartments has emerged after large-scale immigration into Bangalore happened due to the IT boom and land prices started rising.
“Bangalore changed with the wealth that large IT companies brought into it and (with) developers who came in and set new building patterns that led to the city’s cosmopolitan development,” said A. Ravindra, adviser (urban affairs) to the chief minister of Karnataka.
The shift from villas to apartments is a natural movement, he added.
Still, some property consultants and developers say that it will be difficult to sell apartments costing over Rs5 crore—one reason why most luxury projects are small in scale.
Girish Puravankara-founded start-up Lalith Gangadhar Constructions Pvt. Ltd (LGCL) has kept the average price of its villas in its Ashlar project at Rs2 crore.
“There are buyers for more expensive properties, but they have to find real value to invest in them,” said Puravankara, a cousin of Ravi Puravankara, promoter of Puravankara Projects Ltd, and who quit that firm in 2007 to set up LGCL.