Gurgaon-based Central Park is one of the few notable exceptions, which trumped the real estate slowdown in the National Capital Region market. The company's CMD Amarjit Bakshi talks to Business Today's Chanchal Pal Chauhan about their expansion plans. Edited excerpt.
BT. Are there any signs of revival in the real estate market?
Bakshi: The current real estate market is in a flux, however, it is not an alarming situation considering the regulatory changes brought in by the government in the form of Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act. The consumer friendly regulations will help in bringing back the consumer confidence and trust in developers, as they propose a level playing field and offer much needed confidence by way of transparency to investors and home buyers.
BT. How will the industry fill the trust deficit? Are latest regulations expected to fill the gap?
Bakshi: Real estate is one of the rapidly growing sectors in India, but the 'industry' status still eludes it. The industry has traditionally not enjoyed a favourable image among the consumers. While being the second largest employer in the country, it is straddled with old reforms, opaque practices and cluttered regulatory framework. The first step to instill trust in the sector has to be taken by the developers. As a priority, developers need to find the best possible solution to complete pending projects and hand over possession at the earliest. By complying with RERA the developers can overhaul the image of real estate sector by addressing key issues such as project delays, price, quality of construction title and other changes.
BT. After being in dumps for years, do you feel RERA will be a 'game changer' to bring a decisive change?
Bakshi: With RERA becoming a reality now, transparency in the real estate sector for consumers and investors will be one of the major benefits of this development. For many years, the real estate sector has been largely unregulated in the country, which has led to a huge consumer trust deficit in the industry. But as RERA comes into full force, we can expect some major changes in the industry. Standardization and consumer protection norms will become of paramount importance and help bring fair practices in the industry. The new bill seeks to balance out the interest of all stakeholders and delegates further responsibility on developers to meet their commitments on upcoming projects completion to avoid stringent penalties.
From a developer standpoint, implementation of RERA will help modernize the sector and ensure better project planning, implementation and management, thereby making the entire exercise more efficient.
Furthermore, it will attract greater Foreign Domestic Investments into the sector encouraging developers to adopt best practice and quality standards to project Indian real estate sector in a new light.
BT: As land and permissions associated with Real Estate are state subjects, do you feel governments are pro-actively making a change?
Bakshi: We definitely see positive steps and measures being implemented by the government. However, we are still far away from achieving a single window clearance regime. The passage of land pooling policy in Delhi is a welcome step towards streamlining the process of acquiring land for urban development.
BT: What are your growth projections? Which are the new focus areas?
Bakshi: We are a focused niche player in the luxury segment, with multiple asset classes addressing varied consumer taste and preferences. Our aim is not to be the biggest but to the best and most trusted player in the industry. We achieved a successful growth last year and aiming for a 5x growth in FY 2017-18.
Our approach in all our projects is to provide the best customer experience at every touch point of a customer's engagement with Central Park. We are exploring opportunities in the commercial, retail and hospitality sector in Delhi NCR and as well as other cities like Goa.
BT: If you are also venturing from core housing to commercial and retail. Where are you putting fresh investments?
Bakshi: While residential real estate remains a mainstay part of our business, we are excited about opportunities in the commercial segment. We have ventured into the commercial segment with a 40-lakh sq ft mixed-use project in Noida, involving an investment of about Rs 2,000 crore. The project will comprise about 16 lakh sq ft of office space, 16 lakh sq ft of residential development and another 8 lakh sq ft of retail space, encompassing a total space of 25 acres in Sector 67, Noida.
BT: Are you also increasing your interest in other verticals like auto components and infrastructure?
Bakshi: We are already part of a larger conglomerate, the Bakshi Group which is a major player in infrastructure, hospitality and auto components. We have plans to expand our hospitality presence in newer markets such as Goa by the end of 2017. Our infrastructure arm - Oriental Structural Engineers Pvt. Ltd. has set a target to double its top lines by 2018.
BT: You have a great emphasis on sports in your projects? How are you propelling on this highly interesting field?
Bakshi: We at Central Park believe in the idea of concept living/holistic living. Therefore, recreation becomes key part of this vision. Our aim is to bring world class facilities to all our diverse asset classes. Our new project such as Flower Valley at South of Gurgaon, Sohna Road, will have ten word-class academies such as cricket, golf, lawn tennis, boxing, badminton and we plan to establish more academies with professional trainers and coaches to hone the skills of young talent who aspire to excel in the field. By 2030, sports will be a trillion dollar industry. Central Park academies will provide equal opportunities to promising talent from nearby areas and other parts of the country to train at par with international standards.