Chennai: Beyond Boundaries

Builders are looking beyond city limits to set up residential and commercial complexes.

When it comes to realty, Chennai has always been a safe bet for investors. And with the exponential rise of the market propelled to an extent by the growth of IT firms, builders are now looking beyond cityscapes to net the middle-income group with affordable luxury. Places like Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR), Ambattur, Grand Southern Trunk (GST) Road, Vandalur and areas beyond that define Greater Chennai, a term increasingly used by the realtors to label the emerging trend of development in the suburbs.

The hitherto conservative Chennai market began to change rapidly as soon as the IT industry found a foothold in the city. However, according to builders, it is not just the software professionals who seek properties as far as 50 km from the city. “Of the 700 units in our new project at Jameen Pallavaram, 450 were sold off to IT buyers and the rest to non-IT buyers. The newly laid road connecting Pallavaram and Thoraipakkam has put the area on the top of the preference list of IT professionals. People now just don’t mind the distance, what with the encouraging growth of transport facility,” says Sandeep Mehta, Managing Director of Jain Housing, one of the leading realtors in the city.

Siruseri perched along OMR was one among the first to be chosen as a potential spot for high-rise buildings. While SIPCOT IT Park is a key attraction, many buyers say the demand is driven primarily by the abundance of drinking water and lesser pollution. Self-sufficient townships integrated with offices and gated communities that house reputed schools are increasingly finding takers. Schools like Sishya and Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan have opened in the area, making OMR a hotspot. Travel along the stretch is also no longer a nightmare, with the fairly good frequency of air-conditioned buses plying in that area.

The area adjacent to the GST Road that connects the airport, Tambaram and Vandalur to the city is vast virgin land for builders. For instance, Tambaram off GST Road has traditionally been a stronger realty market for its commercial establishments and local train connectivity.

Perungalathur, Urapakkam, Singaperumal Koil and Maraimalai Nagar on GST Road are close enough to the city to retain an urban feel, with well-laid highways paving way for hassle-free commute. “Development in Delhi has gone beyond Noida and Gurgaon. Chennai will soon follow the capital city’s footsteps. But to achieve that, government should prop suburbs with solid infrastructure,” says Mehta.

Chitty Babu of Akshara Homes agrees. He observes that sewage, electricity and roads should be put up well ahead of residential development. “By setting up infrastructure in an area before constructing residential buildings, the government could save the construction cost by 30 percent. It is high time a proactive approach is adopted to start an organised development process in the outskirts of the city.”

Builders suggest that there should be a clear demarcation between residential and commercial spaces. “There are a lot of land banks available along OMR, GST Road and Ambattur. The development is clearly skewed towards these areas,” Mehta points out.

So, how far is too far? According to Babu, there is no threshold limit for development for both industry and residential projects. “Oragadam is a classic example. There are nearly 30,000 units being built since many industries are up and running around that area. Social infrastructure is still lacking in these areas, though. But that will not stop either the builders or the buyers to invest in these properties. According to industry estimates, there is a shortage of 27.71 million houses in the country and Tamil Nadu contributes towards 11 percent of it. We will never be able to match the requirement. So the value of houses is set to appreciate further by leaps.”

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