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Gera in News

Pune: The highway to heaven

India Today - 21 February, 2014

A housing project at Ambegaon

Only a decade ago, Sinhagad Road near Pune was a bumpy, quiet road lined with paddy and sugarcane fields, taking picnickers to the eponymous fort. Today, it is marked by fast-expanding roads, schools, restaurants and under-construction townships. There's something available for every budget-from compact studios to row houses, starting from Rs.15 lakh. Also under-construction about 20 km away is Xrbia, a massive complex, a striking symbol of Pune's affordable housing boom.

A number of budget projects are mushrooming on the city's periphery. The once-open fields in areas such as Sinhagad Road, Chakan and Hinjewadi have got a concrete makeover, with people buying homes as investment options or for own use. A leading developer, with several projects in Hinjewadi and Sinhagad Road, attributes the demand to better facilities offered by the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation, compared to the Pune Municipal Corporation. A sales executive for Vastushodh, a big name in affordable housing, explains that a young professionals moving to Pune in the growing automobile or IT industry seek to invest in their own home. Its Urbangram projects stand within 15 km of the city centre and costRs.15 lakh-Rs.30 lakh. Proximity to Khed-Shivapur's industrial park and the Mumbai-Bangalore highway makes Ambegaon another affordable hub.

A new affordable housing feature is the 1.5 or 2.5 BHK unit. "It offers extra space-a study-for a nuclear family that doesn't have to pay a higher price," says Amit Jinralkar, senior executive, sales, Paranjape Schemes. Most affordable projects offer facilities such as a swimming pool and club house. At Blue Ridge, Hinjewadi, there's a golf drive, luxury villas, service flats, a sports zone, boat club and a butterfly garden. "The defining factor for home prices is the cost of land. The further one goes to the fringes, the cheaper it is," says Rohit Gera, MD, Gera Developments. There are some negatives though- the outskirts too are quickly getting overcrowded, and the drive to downtown Pune is long.

Sinhagad Road and Hinjewadi are popular as they are close to IT hubs Baner and Hinjewadi and the Mumbai-Bangalore highway. "They're the outskirts only for now. With expanding city limits, newer outskirts will become the new affordable areas," says Gera.

FUELLING THE BOOM: 1.5 & 2.5 BHK units offer extra space without commensurate hike in price. Cheaper land cost means developers can include pools, club houses and golf drives. Proximity to workplaces and highways.

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