Bangalore: As at least 8,000 workers and professionals rush to complete the world’s tallest, 160-storey (818m tall) Burj Dubai tower by its December deadline, 1,800 workers are at the Imperial Towers project site in southern Mumbai finishing what will be India’s tallest building. The 252m-tall, 65-storey twin- tower project that began in 2002 is scheduled to be completed later this year.
Click here for a slideshow of India’s tallest buildings
India’s skyscraper developers haven’t had it easy. They have had to face public interest litigations and manage the intricacies of handling slum development projects in cases where these towers are being built on land that once housed sprawling slums. They have had to and continue to put up with complex and archaic regulations and, in the wake of the economic downturn, have seen financers, lenders and customers dwindle or vanish altogether.
Most of the high-rises are located in Mumbai or Bangalore. New Delhi, with its open spaces, has never believed in skyscrapers. Nor has Chennai.
“The history of tall buildings in India has been a process of private developers trying to build tall gated communities ensuring a sea or race course view...at premium prices,” said V.K. Phatak, former chief of town planning in Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). Phatak added that it is time to “have a single window clearance process (for such projects) to avoid delays.”
Despite the challenges and the current economic environment, developers continue to be optimistic about such projects—as is evident in the January announcement of a new project, a 100-storey tower in Wadala, Mumbai, that will be built at a cost of Rs2,500 crore.
The project is being built with the blessings of MMRDA. Vimal Shah, managing director of developer Akruti City Ltd, which is one of the nine firms to express interest in developing the project, said his firm was keen to be part “of an iconic project” and that MMRDA’s involvement would make requisite clearances easier to obtain.
The 158m-high Shreepati Arcade (45 storeys) that opened in 2001 in central Mumbai took a little less than five years to build. The builder, Shreepati Group of Companies, is now developing an 81-storey building, and managing director Rajendra Chaturvedi says the process has only got tougher. “The number of clearances (a developer has to obtain) have only increased now. It took us 15 months to get the civil aviation ministry approval alone.”
1. Palais Royale (click here)
Lower Parel, Mumbai
Specs: A luxury residential tower with 70 storeys
Cost: Rs800 cr
Project: One of Mumbai’s tallest residential towers, the project is being developed by Shree Ram Urban Infrastructure Ltd.
Hurdles: The developer didn’t face any regulatory or financial problems but had to address several structural and technical challenges.
Status: Construction is on and the development is expected to be completed by the end of 2010.
2. Imperial Towers (click here)
Specs: 65 storeys (two residential towers)
Cost: Rs800 cr for the entire project
Project: The slum redevelopment project, a joint venture between the Dilip Thacker-owned SD Corp. and Shapoorji Pallonji and Co. Ltd, has two towers with 375 luxury apartments for sale. While construction of 1,900 flats for the erstwhile residents of the slum has been completed, the two main towers are scheduled to open sometime this year. The construction started back in 2002. While the entire project has been designed by Hafeez Contractor, a 10,000 sq. ft duplex space in one of the towers has been specially designed by New York-based architect Craig Nealy to showcase Indian luxury.
Hurdles: In a recent development, in June, the Bombay high court dismissed a petition filed by the residents of Carmichael Road, where the towers are coming up, asking for the demolition of one tower because it allegedly violated building rules. The petition also questioned the stability of the hill on which it is being built. The project has run into multiple litigations since 2002, when local residents first moved the court alleging that the developers were illegally breaking down a hill for construction.
Bookings are still on and property consultants say the background of the project and the steep prices, which touched Rs 40,000 per sq. ft during the boom, were a dampener. “We learnt the hard way because there was no precedent (for pricing a project like this),” said Amit Thacker, director, SD Corp.
Status: Construction is in the final stages. A third tower is currently on the drawing board.
3. Lanco Hills (click here)
Specs: Around 22 residential towers, one of which will have at least 100 storeys. Will also have commercial towers, hotels and retail space
Cost: Rs6,000 cr for the entire project
Project: Developed by Lanco Infratech Ltd, the project will be spread across 100 acres.
Hurdles: Nine months have passed since the project has applied for clearance from the civil aviation ministry (routine for all buildings above 142m in height). The approval is yet to arrive. The economic downturn has also affected the project, which is finding it difficult to attract investors and buyers.
Status: Construction will start the moment the approval comes, said S. Pochender, CEO, Lanco Hills.
4. Aquila Heights (click here)
Specs: Three residential towers with 32 storeys each
Cost: Rs500 cr
Project: With a helipad in each of the three towers, this project by Tata Housing Development Co. Ltd will be the tallest residential project in India’s technology capital.
Hurdles: Difficulty in procuring adequate construction workers on site. “The typical problem in building a very tall building here is that labourers are reluctant to work at such tall heights and they ask for more money,” said a spokesperson for Tata Housing.
Status: Construction is on (15th floor for two towers). The project is expected to be completed by December 2010. The third tower will be built in a later phase.
5. Lodha Bellissimo (click here)
Lower Parel, Mumbai
Specs: Three residential towers of 55 storeys each.
Cost: Rs450 cr
Project: The first tower is already up and took about 38 months to construct. The super-luxurious apartments were sold by invitation only.
Hurdles: “We haven’t faced any delays or difficulties so far,” said Abhisheck Lodha, director of Mumbai-based Lodha Group.
Status: Construction is on (the 17th floor of the third tower) and will end by the middle of 2010.
6. GIFT Tower (click here)
Specs: An 86-storey commercial tower
Cost: Rs12,000 cr for the entire project
Project: Gujarat International Finance Tech City Ltd (GIFT) is a 50:50 joint venture between Gujarat Urban Development Corporation and IL&FS Ltd. The GIFT Tower is part of the 1000-acre business district being built by GIFT. The development will also have other towers . It is expected to take up to 10 years to be completed.
Hurdles: Procuring all the clearances for the project and integrating development plans for all the towers in the project.
Status: Awaiting mandatory clearance from the civil aviation ministry without which construction can’t begin.
7. Shreepati Castle (click here)
Specs: Eight residential towers of 49 storeys each.
Cost: Rs2,000 cr
Project: Another slum redevelopment project being developed by the Shreepati Group of Companies.
Hurdles: A number of litigations by local residents asking for more area and benefits delayed the project by at least 18 months.
Status: Construction is going on and the project is expected to be completed by 2011.
8. Shreepati Skies (click here)
Specs: An 81-storey residential project
Cost: Rs 500 cr
Project: Another slum redevelopment project, this is being developed by Shreepati Group of Companies.
Hurdles: The project took two years to procure all the approvals including 15 months to get the clearance of the aviation ministry.
Status: Around 265 tenants are being relocated and the plot is being vacated after which construction will begin in a month’s time, claims the developer. A fresh plan of the project has been submitted after the government changed the policy, expanding the area of each tenement in the rehabilitation portion to 300 sq. ft from the earlier 225 sq. ft.
Reliance Trade Tower
Height: Not available
Specs: A 100storey commercial tower
Cost: Rs8,000 cr for the entire project
Project: Reliance Trade Tower is part of a 77acre business district that will be jointly developed by Reliance Infrastructure Ltd (66% stake), Sobha Developers Ltd (23%) and the Andhra Pradesh Industrial Development Corp. Ltd (11%).
Hurdles: The stakeholders have been unable to close financing or find tenants.
Status: Reliance Infra has decided to indefinitely postpone the project.
Height: Not available
Specs: Two 65storey towers with 44 duplex apartments
Cost: Rs500 cr Project: The residential project is being developed by IVen Realty Ltd, a joint venture between Oberoi Constructions Pvt. Ltd and private equity firm ICICI Venture Funds Management Co. Ltd.
Hurdles: A dispute over the ownership of the land, on which the project is to come up, between Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the developer has stalled the project. BMC, the original land owner, has alleged that the developer is trying to break rules related to howmuch space can be used for development. It has asked for Rs135 cr before handing over the mandatory No objection certificate.
Status: Construction cannot begin till the civic authority hands over the certificate. “We want to begin construction as soon aswe get the BMC’s nod,” said Vikas Oberoi, managing director, Oberoi Constructions.
Marine Lines, Mumbai
Specs: A 64storey hotel and residential project
Cost: Rs1,100 cr
Project: The project is being developed by Neelkamal Realtors, a subsidiary of Dynamix Balwas Group.
Hurdles: Delay over floor space index (FSI, or the amount of the land that can be used for the building) in the project. In December 2007, the Supreme Court directed the Maharashtra government to consider the developer’s plea for higher FSI of 6.29.
Status: Construction has just begun.
Residency Road, Bangalore
Height: Not available
Specs: A 47storey hotel and residential project
Cost: Rs560 cr
Project: First publicized as a Trump Tower by Trump Organization USA Llc, the project was to be developed by Asipac Projects Pvt. Ltd, project management firm Synergy Property Development Services Pvt. Ltd and local developer Rajatha Developers Pvt. Ltd.
Hurdles: Investors stayed away in the wake of the economic downturn
Status: The project may be shelved. The owner of the land has put it up for sale and is negotiating with potential buyers. Donald Trump Jr, in an email response to Mint, said his firm is not involved in this project any more.
Photographs by Abhijit Bhatlekar / Mint and Ashesh Shah / Mint. Artists’ impressions provided by respective companies.