Niranjan Hiranandani: A man extraordinaire
Niranjan Hiranandani, co-founder and MD, Hiranandani Group of Companies, continues to build iconic structures. But there are myriad other roles he plays in life to help the sector and mankind
A mere hour with Niranjan Hiranandani is not enough. The czar of real estate has been in the business of real estate for far too long and, one can safely say, has learnt everything there is to know under the sun. He has also learnt to take everything in his stride, which is of paramount importance in the perennially shifting arena of real estate development.
What makes him distinct in the unsporting world of real estate is his ability to be direct and outspoken. Be it government rules or the dynamically shifting nature of the development business, Hiranandani has remained true to his conscience at all times. Perhaps, it’s this reason that also makes him much sought after across industries. Besides being co-founder and MD at the Hiranandani Group, and CMD of Hiranandani Communities, he is also the national president of Naredco, the president of the apex industry body Assocham (The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India) and in January was appointed as one of the board members to find a resolution for Unitech. He considers this role as a public service to resolve the issues of numerous stranded home buyers.
All the above responsibilities, while being a feather in his cap, rests lightly on his able shoulders.
Here, there and everywhere
Set up in 1978, the Hiranandani Group is perchance the only developer to have a reputation for building an entire ’district’, Hiranandani Gardens, what is also known as Powai. Not only did it create townships and give citizens their early taste for luxury apartments, it also offered, and continues to offer, buyers a lifestyle option that was hitherto absent. Strangely, people in the 80s and 90s had not realised its absence. Hiranandani says, “That’s the beauty of townships. It offers people alternatives from the routine lifestyle they had been used to. It helps them grow and learn as an individual and as a family. As a Group, we will continue to focus on development of townships, while building on iconic structures that we are known for.”
Today, the Group has a presence in Chennai, Gujarat, and Maharashtra, and there is constant search for new locations that will fit in with its hallmark design mantra.
Over the years, the Group has diversified to education, hospitality, healthcare, retail and entertainment. Hiranandani believes in moving with the times. Moreover, his belief also stems from not only doing the right thing at the right time, but doing it well.
Last year, having tasted success in commercial and luxury residential development, the Mumbai-based developer announced plans to diversify into affordable housing and industrial warehousing parks for its next stage of growth. The warehousing plans are more firmed up as the company plans to capitalise on the land it owns in Pune, Chennai, Nashik and West Bengal. There are also plans to expand to other cities such as Bhiwandi (Maharashtra) Kolkata, the NCR region and, if all goes well, in Bangladesh too, provided it can acquire the land it needs. As a precursor to the venture, Hiranandani launched Greenbase, a warehousing and logistics parks vertical. It will develop built-to-suit warehouses, industrial facilities and cold storage, he adds.
He is farsighted too. A Knight Frank report brought out in July 2019 says that warehousing space estimated to be 68 million m2 (739 million sq-ft) in 2019 for the manufacturing sector is projected to grow at a CAGR of 5% in the next five years to 86 million m2 (922 million sq-ft) by 2024. That is fairly large. The warehousing industry has witnessed massive participation from institutional investors, as well as developers, who have collectively invested over $6.8 billion since 2014, with an average investment per deal of $282 million.
Working towards the goal, GreenBase inked a joint venture with Blackstone Investments Group to set up a 50:50 joint venture, a Hiranandani-Blackstone pan-India platform for development of industrial, logistics and warehousing assets. Hiranandani says, “The strategic move comes in sync with opportunities created by structural reforms like GST, improved road infrastructure as also the Make in India initiative among others, which augur well for the industrial and logistics sector. We have a very bullish view on the economy in the long term. Logistics and warehousing will be one of the major beneficiaries of this growth. The joint venture’s investment (estimated to be Rs 2,500 crores over the next 3-4 years) will also contribute to economic growth as well as employment generation in the relevant locations.”
The JV will initially include Hiranandani Greenbase’s 267 acres in Pune, 115 acres in Chennai’s industrial suburb Oragadam, 73 acres in Nashik and around 25 acres in Durgapur, West Bengal. Greenbase over the last year, has successfully closed customer transactions worth one million sq-ft for BTS at its locations, with end-users such as Coopers (for Talegaon) and Vestas (at Oragadam), while a few others are on the drawing board.
Riding the wave
There are no dearth of new-age ventures to plunge into if one has the wherewithal and determination. Another recent progress was the foray into data centres through Yotta Infrastructure. Yotta is a managed data centre service provider that designs, builds, and operates large-scale hyper density Uptime Institute Certified Tier 4 data centre parks in Mumbai, Navi-Mumbai and Chennai. It offers hyper-density, hyper-scalable data centre and colocation solutions to enterprises along with an array of managed IT, hybrid multi cloud, connectivity and security services.
Hiranandani says, “The Digital India programme is a key pillar of Prime Minister’s vision of India becoming a $5 trillion economy by 2025. There is a huge opportunity with data localisation and protection act to be announced soon to regulate the data management business. We are committed to be one of the big players in the data centre space with massive scale of development, robust core infrastructure in terms of power, land and solar energy, and services complying global best practices.”
The company plans to launch hybrid multi-cloud, managed IT, security and connectivity services to cater to the needs of enterprises including banks, retail, media and manufacturing, and new age companies in the space of SaaS, IoT, Machine Learning, AI and Big Data.
The data centre parks will be spread over 50 acres near major international fibre landing stations with server hall capacity of over 60,000 racks and 500 MW power. The first data centre park went live late last year at Hiranandani Fortune City township in Panvel, followed by Chennai and Mumbai.
Yotta Infrastructure is driven by Sunil Gupta who is managing partner and CEO.
Turning the tide
Innovation is the game changer for any business. Whether big or small, today innovation that is fruitful and aids in improving quality of life finds approval among people. The Hiranandani Group has stoutly stuck to this not only in the spirit of innovation, but as a part of its DNA. Hiranandani says, “If I had to list out the innovations we have brought to the sector, I could spend an entire day talking about it. However, for the record, each project of ours differs in several aspects as compared to earlier ones.”
For instance, its much awaited boutique Homes for Ambitious known as Regent Hill comprises modish 1BHK. There is wisdom in this. At a time when buyers have been refusing to loosen their purse strings (blame the economic situation), Hiranandani launched smaller homes that would appeal to people looking for location and modern homes that would fit their budget. Interestingly as announced at the launch – they are crafted for ambitious minds.
Similarly, in March last year, the Group unveiled its uber-luxury sector ‘Lake Enclave’ amidst a large expanse of mixed-used integrated township Hiranandani Estate on Ghodbunder road, Thane. The development offers sheer opulent amenities for the crème-de-la-crème segment of home seekers. Hiranandani says, “This unique proposition is aimed for the aspirational home buyers upgrading their lifestyle quotient with redefined luxury. The offering would attract the right set of home buyers who believe in real estate as a stable and appreciating asset class from the long term perspective. This is the best time to buy one’s dream home. With reduced tax burden, home buyers can avail the advantage of an early mover to make choice of their apartments with a mix of best offerings and flexi payment schemes tailor made to meet their requirements.”
In December, it moved to a novel method of development. ‘The Walk’ at Hiranandani Estate, a mixed used integrated township in Thane, is centred on the concept of aristocratic living. The township comprises world-class social and civic infrastructure like best international schools, hospital, retail, entertainment & recreational amenities. It also offers luxury of uninterrupted 24/7 water supply with centrally located rain water harvesting, STP and water recycling plant. It provides DG backup for uninterrupted power supply. The green ecosystem with tree line boulevards & rejuvenating green spaces improves quality of life to a great extent.
Living by his conscience
Like it was mentioned at the beginning of this story, Niranjan Hiranandani dons several hats. He has also been loyal and steadfast to each venture he has taken up. For some time now, he has also been vociferous about setting the course right for his peers and customers. In his words, “The story is a sum of parts. The economy is not in the best of state now. The overall GDP growth has slowed down. The slowdown in the real estate sector started with demonetisation, then came GST, followed by RERA and then the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code. But there is a rainbow at the end of this horizon. The affordable housing sales are brisk today. The PMAY scheme and the interest subvention scheme has caught on among buyers.”
He, however, says with grave concern that the government must work out a plan to bring in liquidity into the market. Unless and until, people are made to feel secure and encouraged to spend, the markets will not pick up. Moreover, it must provide faster clearances to projects and ensure better co-ordination acmong the multiple regulatory agencies for improved ease of doing business.
Simultaneously, he admits that the disruption caused in the market has been the developer’s nemesis. There began the saga when they diverted funds from one project to another, and their indisposition to paying off loans quickly so that banks could find them reliable in the future too. It had a cascading effect on the entire ecosystem.
It’s noteworthy to know that India has one developer who has carved his niche by standing out among the crowd and will set straight the path for others to emulate. What few know is that it’s all in a day’s work for a man who will turn 70 soon.