"The township model of construction has been existent in industrial sectors where in the employees enjoyed the benefits of community living. Of late, the same concept has been replicated on a commercial scale which is gaining popularity from all quarters. The major advantages of township model are better security system, modern amenities and world-class infrastructure."
Surya Reddy Pulagam, Managing Director, PBEL Property Development (India) Pvt Ltd shares his views with Sandeep Sharma about his company, core competencies, success of PBEL City Hyderabad, challenges and hurdles, construction technologies, real estate scenario, growing housing shortage. Edited excerpts…
Tell us about your organization and core competencies in the real estate sector?
With a rich lineage of realty project across 182 cities across six continents, PBEL Property Development (India) Pvt. Ltd is a joint venture between three construction majors – Israel-based companies PBC, Electra and Hyderabad based Incor Infrastructure. PBEL set its eye on the southern part of India by purchasing land parcels in rapidly developing cities like Hyderabad, Chennai and Mysore. PBEL started its flagship project in Hyderabad with the 23-acred integrated township, PBEL City at APPA Junction. PBEL has completed the first phase successfully and has started Phase – II with new towers, Aurum and Argentum slated for delivery in December 2013 and October 2014 respectively. With a total count of 550 + customers, PBEL City is a microcosm of various cultures living in harmony. For that reason, we can proudly claim that we are most vibrant community in Hyderabad. Our core competencies lie in the successful synergy of backward and forward integration by employing the best practices in the industry as well as our customer-centric policies and active presence on Facebook. The pillars of our strong foundation are trust, on-time delivery, and inclusive approach to development as well as consumer protection.
How would you describe your success with regard to the PBEL City - Hyderabad project?
PBEL acquired a huge patch of land from the farmers at market value. PBEL conceptualized an effective product mix catering to the needs of the corporate world. Very soon, PBEL chose L & T as the construction partner for PBEL City from a host of five other top contenders. Since then, there has been no looking back and PBEL had been successful in delivering Phase-I of the project on time and is known in the market for its on-time delivery. With much fanfare, PBEL conducted Mahagrihapravesh, a mass house warming ceremony and handed over the keys to the happy customers. PBEL is known for its effective on-time delivery and thrives to continue the tradition by delivering the towers, Aurum and Argentum in December 2013 and October 2014. The rental yield is one of the largest and futuristic among the real estate players in Hyderabad. PBEL believes in not just constructing houses of brick and mortar but building sustainable and happy communities. PBEL could withstand the challenges of the recession-stricken market thanks to the strong teamwork and the driving principles of commitment and customer satisfaction to the last mile. The key to the success of PBEL has been the eco system of “Co–Creation” by involving all the stakeholders including vendors, employees and residents/ Customers. PBEL thrives on customer satisfaction and has been selling since then mostly through customer referrals.
We have won numerous awards including “Best Concrete Structure” from Indian Concrete Institute (ICI), the TV5 Best Consumer Protection Award as well as the Paul Writer award for Digital Excellence.
What were the challenges and hurdles faced during execution of Phase-I of the Hyderabad project?
At the time of launching the project, the Indian economy was on a downslide with the onslaught of recession hitting all the sectors including realty, construction etc and PBEL was no exception. However, we put in our best efforts to successfully complete the Phase –I and deliver it on time and it has become an unwritten norm in PBEL to be steadfast on this commitment towards customers. Through the thick and thin of AP’s depressed market we kept the ball rolling and delivered the Phase- I on time ; today the same has led to 358 happy Phase I Homes and has helped sell more than 280 apartments in Phase II as well. Another important challenge was to create a new identity for ourselves in the nascent stages of development. Though we are an integral part of a global conglomerate with presence in 182 cities across several continents, we were a new player in the sector. We started from scratch and built our reputation and credibility bit by bit.
As the realty prices have already gone beyond the reach of common man. Whether township model of construction is the best way forward to provide affordable housing?
Affordable housing a relative term and what is termed as affordable to one section of people can become expensive or economical for another section. As per the budget specifications and the quality of lifestyle that could be enjoyed by the target segments, there are projects that are designed on the same criteria. The township model of construction has been existent in industrial sectors where in the employees enjoyed the benefits of community living. Of late, the same concept has been replicated on a commercial scale which is gaining popularity from all quarters. The major advantages of township model are better security system, modern amenities and world-class infrastructure. All types of developers from small to medium-scale and large developers have taken fancy to the township model and are designing projects as per the budget of the target customer segment. Therefore, we can find townships with an average 2BHK flat costing about Rs. 30 Lakh to a even a Crore, the difference would be the quality of amenities , infrastructure, construction standards and various other specifications.
Could you share with us the finer points of your ongoing PBEL City - Chennai project?
Continuing the momentum, PBEL City started its new project on the Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR) in Chennai. Spread across 43 acres of land, this mixed development integrated township has an array of product types ranging from garden apartments, two and three bedroom apartments and row houses to villas along with commercial buildings. It is surrounded by natural scenic features such as the Muttukad backwaters and salt pans to the east of the property. This project is planned in phases with a floodlit cricket ground, a school and world-class amenities along with a well-equipped clubhouse on its premises. The project at Mysore, the cultural capital of Karnataka is also on the anvil.
The construction technologies are undergoing tremendous change and latest tech is enabling faster project execution worldwide. What kind of technology have you adopted in your projects?
We are currently using shear walls for structure in one of projects and are also adopting conventional structural system construction in other projects. Depending upon the need of the market and the pace at which the product needs to be delivered and also balancing it with sales, we adopt different technologies.
Industry players have reported shortage of skilled and unskilled labour for construction projects. Are you facing similar issue in your projects? And what’s your recommendation to solve this issue?
Yes there is acute shortage of skilled and unskilled manpower for construction. The only way is to mechanize most
as much as possible. Most of the big Contractors are already moving in this direction including exploring options of precasting the components.
How is the real estate scenario shaping up in southern cities? Are you optimistic about the revival of overall demand in FY2013-14?
If we observe the price trend, there has been a healthy and steady increase in the per sq.feet rates in the major Southern cities. In both ways, whether it is short-term or long-term investment, one can expect positive appreciation. Comparatively, in the long term investment cycle, once can expect sizeable returns. After recession, a minimum guaranteed appreciation of 5-10% per annum has been observed by industry experts.
What’s your recommendation for solving the growing housing shortage in India?
With the shortage of land and the density of population, there is a huge demand for housing needs in India. To an extent, the apartment culture has solved the problem but with the demerits like cramped residential spaces, poor ventilation, water scarcity and lack of open spaces. To answer all these problems, the integrated townships/gated communities are being developed by keeping all the disadvantages of standalone apartments in mind and coming up with wellplanned dwelling spaces with more emphasis on natural surroundings and of course the benefits of amenities.
Going forward, what are your immediate and long term plans for building a pan India project portfolio?
We started Phase-I Construction and outdoor sports amenities will be completed shortly in the Chennai project. As of now, our focus is in the south and incrementally, we would focus towards a pan-India project portfolio in the days to come.