Mumbai gets new swanky addresses, but nothing official about it

MANASI PHADKE Posted online: Monday, Oct 07, 2013 at 0000 hrs
Mumbai : A handful of high-end real estate developers in Mumbai have hit upon a new strategy to try and beat the grim market mood and sell their luxury residential projects at a premium. They have started coining swanky and hip-sounding names for places where their projects are coming up in order to lure buyers.

As a result there are addresses like Upper Worli, Upper Juhu, BKC Annex, BKC Extension and New Cuffe Parade, which neither have a pin code nor find mention in the administrative records of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. They are also yet to find space in the postal department’s directory.

Ramesh Nair, chief operating officer, business, at Jones Lang LaSalle, said developers are resorting to such unique moves in the backdrop of the overall slowdown in the real estate market, depressed demand, negative sentiment and a liquidity crunch.

“When they re-position areas to market their project, they command a 10 to 15 per cent premium over the existing prices of the locality. This is something that I am yet to see in other Indian cities. Of all the major cities, Mumbai is a city where people like to show off about where they stay. If a person lives in Khar, he generally tends to say he lives in Bandra. Even in south Mumbai, anyone living on Napean Sea Road is considered to be more affluent than in other areas. Developers are targeting this perception,” Nair said.

For instance, in 2010, realty major Lodha Group had announced its plans of constructing the tallest residential tower, World One, at a height of 1,450 feet with 117 floors in Mumbai. Although the project is underway at the defunct 17-acre Shrinivas Mill plot at Lower Parel, the Lodha Group refrained from using the ‘Lower Parel’ address and instead branded the location as Upper Worli. Worli is about 3.5 km from the project site.

Similarly, Lodha has branded a luxury housing project in Wadala, close to the newly opened Eastern Freeway, spread over 23 acres as ‘New Cuffe Parade’, widely advertising that the time taken to drive from Fort to Cuffe Parade is 20 minutes, and that from Fort to New Cuffe Parade is even less.

“We take this approach only for select marquee developments that are similar to landmarks that change the face of the city. New Cuffe Parade bears a striking resemblance to its roots in Cuffe Parade in terms of size, creator and type of development. Since real estate is a long term, futuristic product category, a name gives our customers a visual representation of what the development envisions,” said R Karthik, chief marketing officer at the Lodha Group.

Real estate developer Rustomjee has also taken this approach to market a few of its projects. Accordingly, one of its projects, Rustomjee Oriana, which is actually located at MIG Colony in Bandra East has been advertised as being located at BKC Annex, with the plush business district of Bandra Kurla Complex close by. Another project of the developer, Rustomjee Elita is branded as being located at Upper Juhu, when the exact location is Four Bungalows, Andheri, which is about three km from Juhu.

Likewise, Hubtown’s high-rise, Vedant, is sold as being located in Sion while the actual address falls under the GTB Nagar area.

Mudassir Zaidi, national director-residential, at Knight Frank India, said, “This is just a way to associate a part of an area with another area that is perceived to be better. With regards to the Upper Worli branding, Worli has always been a far more luxurious area where as Lower Parel has been traditionally associated with mills. Developers command a premium not because of the rebranding of the area, but because of the kind of amenities they are providing in the project. In fact, the rebranding is done to make it easier for people to digest this premium.”

“People do understand that it is just branding, but the idea is that if sufficient number of people start calling it that, the area could ultimately be known by the newer name, at least colloquially,” he said.