Navi Mumbai Real Estate Diaries – 1

Last month I spent a fair amount of time evaluating the Navi Mumbai market. The radius area of “Navi Mumbai” has itself been subject to different levels of understanding in the mind of most real estate watchers. In itself, it is not a district. Some part of Navi Mumbai is part of Thane district and the other is part of Raigad district. For most residents of Mumbai – Navi Mumbai starts at Vashi toll. Its true. But few know where Navi Mumbai goes and ends.

The first thing to understand about Navi Mumbai real estate market is that it is scattered. Consolidation is even more limited than in Mumbai. Additionally there has been a paucity of large developers in that market. Very few large developers from even Mumbai have ventured into that market. Wadhwa has a premium and dated project Palm Beach Residency. L&T is constructing its project at Seawoods. Beyond that there is very little to talk about.

There are several micro-markets but currently there are 5 different pockets within Navi Mumbai that need to be monitored from the perspective of the real estate business. 1) Vashi & Sanpada 2) Ulwe 3) Panvel 4) Kharghar 5) Thane Belapur Road

Vashi & Sanpada are the premium markets of Navi Mumbai. Prices in parts of these locations are higher than some of the suburbs of Mumbai. Godrej in all likelihood will have a project running in each of the two markets in the near-future. Two other large developers are exploring opportunities in this market.

Ulwe is the most under-known and under-rated market of Navi Mumbai. At the last land auction, deals closed at rates higher than several suburbs of Mumbai. It is probably amongst the locations that will gain the most on account of the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link – the 22 kilometre bridge from Sewri to Nava Sheva. Given the small plot sizes it is dominated by local names. Some of the premium projects done over here are from developers like Progressive, Delta that have created their niche.

Panvel is the bastion of the heavyweights. Anyone who is someone in Mumbai real estate – is slugging it out in this market. While the location is not currently thriving and vibrant – large land parcel availability is enticing developers to create their own mini-cities and townships. Hiranandani Developers has the largest land parcel of close to 600 acres. Wadhwa and Godrej are over 100 acres. Players like Marathon and Indiabulls have projects on a base of 25 acres.

Kharghar is the place which houses some of the most ambitious projects of Navi Mumbai by otherwise low-profile players. Three projects in particular – in close vicinity of each other are taking audacious bets. One is Adhiraj Capital City which is on a 40-acre land base and aiming to build amongst the tallest towers of Navi Mumbai at over 50 storeys. It’s been under development for a while and delivery has not yet happened for even a single tower – but it’s a project that has the potential to be a landmark project. Another project is Arihant Aalishan – that was acquired from another developer a few years ago. It’s a skyscraper with a Persian theme and is arguably the boldest project by the Navi Mumbai heavyweight developer so far. Sai World Empire is the third one. The thing I like about the project is that in an era where everyone is trying to subtle, this developer holds nothing back. The project is flashy and unabashedly so.

Thane Belapur Road is the micro-market wherein a lot of commercial development is taking place. It has attracted international players into the game as well. Global major Hines has done a deal with local player Greenscape. Speciality steelmaker Mukand did a land sale transaction to IT company NTT Global Data. Among the residential space there is a large project by Mumbai-based Raheja Universal on a land parcel of over 25 acres.

It’s interesting to speak with stakeholders of the Navi Mumbai housing market. Their views on business are uncomplicated. Progressive Group operates within their bandwidth and does limited projects at one time – but executes it better than many of their peers. Arihant operates in a factory format and is spread across micro-markets offering multiple options – almost like the Maruti of the Navi Mumbai real estate market that has a product for every type of customer. Local architects point out that the complexity of doing business in Navi Mumbai is a lot easier than it is in Mumbai.

It is a market to watch out for as Navi Mumbai is going to see the presence of heavyweights soon.

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