Breathe easy

Written by Preeti Parashar | Updated: Nov 30 2009, 04:53am hrs
Are you dreaming of a home located in the serene environs, away from the maddening city You may soon find an option as various developers are zeroing on the concept of low density housing projects. The Empyrean by FIRE Luxur Developers in Bangalore, Global Eco-City and Gulmohar Woods by Falcon Realty etc are some of the projects in the offering. Defined as lesser number of units per acre, low density housing can be termed as an extension of boutique property concept. While in boutique properties the amenities are limited only to one house/villa/ apartment, in low density projects the entire township has that ambience. The individual house may or may not have unique lifestyle features, but the township per se adopts the unique feature of space and plays around it.

The layout is specially created by the developer including artificial landscaping, water bodies that look near natural, wide roads, walkways, architecturally superior layouts of shopping areas, club, kids zones etc so that the individual living in the township remains in the luxurious and stylised ambience even when he is not within the four walls of his house. Market experts believe that such a concept is set to increase the market value of the project as the demand for these projects is expected to be more than the usual projects. Moreover, it will attract those customers who shy away from congested living and are scouting for exclusive space in the outskirts of the city.

Advantage factor

Where the users get to live in independence the developers benefit from the exclusive layout of the project. Samir Chopra, Director, RE/MAX India feels, Developers benefit from such projects mostly on the planning and the infrastructure part. Since low density projects generally involve single family units and definitely lesser in number, the infrastructure requirements fall considerably. So the developers find it more convenient to plan and execute such dwellings.

On the other hand Om Chaudhry, CEO, FIRE Capital Fund, which is developing The Empyrean in Bangalore, has planned over 100 acres of open areas within the 210 acre township. Such developments offer better quality of life for its residents. Distance from the city allows its residents to stay away from the traffic and the congestion and brings them in close proximity to natural ambiance. More spaces within the township allow for development of more green spaces, better planning for parking facilities and more areas allocated for various community activities. Low density developments are sustainable and make minimum demand on the environments, he says.

The Empyrean township includes parks, themed gardens, jogging tracks, cycling tracks and various sporting facilities. Similarly the landscaping within is designed to please the eye. Chaudhry adds, Due to above advantages, we are finding demand, especially from customers who are keen to upgrade from apartments to independent housing as well as customers who are keen to run away from the congested city life to a better, healthier living. Also scale and experience has definite advantages. Location, sustainability of developments, urban design principles, the targeted customer profile and the maturity of the real estate market are a few of the factors taken into consideration while conceptualising such projects.

However, Ashutosh Limaye, Associate Directorstrategic consulting, Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj is of the view that for the developer, a low density project means fewer properties to construct, translating into less pressure on selling them, and higher margins. For buyers, the advantage is that they get more open spaces either at the individual property level or the project level, translating into exclusivity and privacy, he says. However, there will obviously be a premium, since the developer charges for benefit of excluding any further development in the area, cautions Limaye.

Exclusive locations

Developers are scouting for locations in the suburbs, rural areas, tier-II and III cities for development of such projects. Market analysts believe for a high-end low density housing project, there should be value additions such as scenic location and accessibility to key areas. For similar projects on a more affordable scale, the locations would need to be suitably remote in order to ensure low cost of land, says Limaye from JLLM. Such projects are viable wherein the value of land is reasonably priced versus the land available in the city centre. Chaudhry from Fire Capital Fund expresses, The land prices are viable normally on the outskirts of tier I and tier II cities. The targeted customer segment should be keen to move from the urban clutter and congestion of city life. Bangalore is one such market where customers are keen to explore housing options in such development, away from traffic and pollution. The Empyrean is located on the outskirts of Bangalore, to the east of Whitefield. The project has an outlay of $ 350 million. Approximately 2,100 units will be developed and deliveries of units in phase one will start from the second half of 2011, he adds.

Emerging market

The USP of this concept is that it offers the luxury of living in a larger land area, something people long for these days, some high end housing projects are even made based on ancient and medieval architectural designs, giving people an option to stay close to the contemporary styles in these fast times. Samir Chopra from RE/MAX says, As far as the metros are concerned, the future for these projects doesnt seem so bright, with rising population and increasing incomes and limited land space, low density projects would only aggravate an existing problem. But we might see a lot of development in this segment in the yet to be developed corners of the existing suburbs viz. Bhiwani, Greater Noida etc.

Seconding his view Limaye says, From time to time, a certain section of people will reach a level where they would be to pay for the benefits of a home in a low density project. In the short term, such projects will follow the usual market cycles, while in the long term, there will always be an assured level of demand. These projects also promoving the satellite urban village concept and people enjoy hassle free living. Chaudhry believes that such developments in outskirts of tier 1 cities such as Bangalore and Chennai and tier II cities like Indore will be fast populated by the local residents, who would be keen to improve their quality of life. The Phase 1 of Silver Springs Township at Indore, FIRE Capitals first investment, is again a low density development and has only 387 units spread over 51 acres. 90% of units were absorbed in the market within eight months of launch. There will be a market in this segment as well as in the mass customer segment of value housing, he says.

Today, where affordable housing is considered to top the list of developers, low density projects would provide an attractive alternative to those consumers, who would like to own a bigger accommodation at the price of increased commuting and healthier living!