Good things in packages
In the evolution of India’s real estate sector, one of the defining trends is the concept of integrated townships. As a result of exponential growth in our cities, soaring real estate prices and increasing demand for housing, townships are becoming the preferred choice. Typically sprawling over large areas, townships are self-contained and provide the much needed work-life balance — with offices, schools, outdoor and leisure facilities, hotels, retail outlets, supermarkets, restaurants, and cafés at walking distance from residential areas, guarded by round the clock security. They are set in green and serene environments and are backed by a strong infrastructure of roads, power, water, drainage and sewage.
This large scale housing model is a great package deal of affordability, comfort, convenience, social integration, infrastructure and contemporary lifestyle. The ‘walk-to-work’ culture enabled by townships mitigates the pressures of long commute, unending traffic jams and peak hour rush. The serene environment gives the residents a feeling of living in the countryside, with all the benefits of the city. The modern day home buyer is essentially choosing large community layout projects that provide a sense of comfort, security, convenience and above all, a sophisticated urban living experience. An apt example is Rustomjee’s 127-acre township – Urbania in Thane. Among the largest townships in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), it comprises six towers, including Hazel.
Integrated townships require a large and conveniently located stretch of land. In Mumbai, while land acquisition continues to be a challenge, the boundaries for residential places are extending towards Thane and beyond in the central suburbs. Thane fits perfectly as the new centre for futuristic growth of MMR as it offers a great infrastructure while having excellent connectivity. It access will improve further with the introduction of the Metro and Monorail. Property costs are relatively lower in Thane and it is pegged for significant appreciation in the next five years. As per recent reports, the April-June 2014 period saw a maximum appreciation of 10% in Thane region.
Thane has evolved as a satellite town to the MMR similar to what Gurgaon and Noida are to the capital. Proximity to the airport and its connectivity through railways to other parts of the city including CBDs make Thane a preferred location.
The distinct feature of the township is extensive research on children create constructive spaces for their well-being. We have also gone a step ahead in our philosophy of developing child friendly homes by creating Leon’s World in Urbania. Based on Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligence Leon’s World is a space developed, in consultation with experts, to provide children a stimulating environment catering to different aspects of growth and development. Mentors present at the centre guide children in exploring various fields including arts, mathematics and science and language through play way learning methods.
While meeting the lifestyle demands of an increasing urban population is essential, building sustainable cities to minimise the impact of growth on the environment is imperative. Urbania is built with systems efficient at preserving, storing and recycling natural resources. The township has a sewage treatment plant which recycles 90% of used water for gardening, washing and sanitary purposes. Systems installed to harvest rain water and light reflecting windows that reduce energy consumption, help to economise on natural resources and bring us closer to our aim of creating a zero-waste township. Over 50% of the green spaces in Urbania lend the township and clean and serene environment.
Today, there is little doubt that integrated townships are the format for city development. Tier 1 cities and metropolitan cities are under immense pressure of urbanisation. According to a report by McKinsey, Mumbai will be among the five largest cities in the world by 2030 with an estimated population of 33 million people and an estimated 58% of Maharashtra will be urbanised. This demand can be met efficiently by building sustainable townships that not just provide residential and commercial spaces but also elevate the quality of life for the residents.
• The author is general manager, corporate customer relations & asset class specialist, Rustomjee