Monday, January 25, 2021

Realty Biz

The Vardhman Group is deeply committed to the cause of making Mumbai a world class city by 2020



Vardhman Group is a prominent name in the real estate industry which has become synonymous with luxury living and engineering sophistication. The Mumbai based real estate firm has been at the forefront of developing projects across major cities in India. The development covers almost all asset classes – multi-user, self sufficient townships, residential buildings and towers, commercial premises, malls, retail outlets amongst others. The Group is deeply committed to the cause of making Mumbai a world class city by 2020. This has led it to foray into redevelopment of old and dilapidated buildings; through innovation and technology.
RAJESH VARDHAN, MANAGING DIRECTOR, VARDHMAN GROUP responded to CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES’ queries about his group’s activities in the real estate space. 





Briefly take us through the achievements of your group during the almost 50 years it has been in the real estate business? What are your landmark projects?


True to its name, which means growth, the Vardhman Group has grown exponentially over the last five decades of its existence. Customer satisfaction and value for money is the motto that drives our organisation. The Vardhman Group is deeply committed to the cause of making Mumbai a world class city by 2020. This has led us to foray into redevelopment of old and dilapidated buildings through innovation and technology. The group has developed Western India’s first jewellery mall at Zaveri Bazaar, Jewel World, which has bagged the award for the Best Commercial Building. Apart from real estate, Vardhman has also penetrated into the infrastructure industry in the form of Vardhman Concrete Ltd., also formally known as Stresscrete India Ltd, an infrastructure company. The company specialises in precast, prestressed technology and is involved in the construction of bridges, FOB, ROB, warehousing, housing for government and semi–government bodies and institutions. The Group also focuses on low cost housing under the JNNURM scheme and is already constructing units for slum rehabilitation at Mira Road, Nanded, Sholapur and Sangli.

It is also in the process of getting more work for units. The Vardhman Group also has a registered NBFC – Vardhan Capital & Finance Ltd. Plans are already in line with the vision to make it a financial power house with interests across the consumer, corporate and wealth market spectrum. Vardhman has also ventured into the entertainment segment by bringing to Mumbai the World’s Most Affordable Theme Amusement Park called ‘The World of Vardhman Fantasy’. The park is a visionary landmark converted into a dreamland with 7 fantastic zones based on international themes. It holds a beautiful fountain at the heart of the land, a boating lake, a food court, amusement rides, Gaming Zone and replicas of the 7 wonders of the world, one of the largest open Air Theaters with a sitting capacity of 1200 persons & outer look has been given of colousum. The park caters to every age group and is a complete family zone. Vardhman group has also forayed into the food, entertainment and hospitality sector with the launch of 5 food brands– Proudly Thambi, Chini-Mini, Farmaeesh, Causeway, Elistano, and a café   Brownville. Jewel World, Vardhman Fantasy, Vardhman Height are our landmark projects.




Tell us of the projects currently being developed around Mumbai and pan India by the Vardhman Group across various asset classes and real estate categories – residential townships, commercial, retail and IT parks – their geographies, investments, special features and their current status of implementation?   


We currently have 30 – 35 redevelopment projects, in various stages of construction. A few of them are only residential projects, while the others are residential cum commercial projects. These include Vardhman Twin Star, two buildings of 54 stories each being constructed at Mazgaon; Vardhman Flora, 36 storey and 21 storey buildings being constructed at Byculla; Vardhman Crystal and Vardhman Shilp at Thakurdwar; Vardhman Galaxy at Naviwadi-Chirabazar; Vardhman Garden at Thane; Vardhman Aarya at Santacruz; Vardhman Vista at Ghatkopar; Vardhman Empire at Malad; Vardhman Grandeur at Andheri West and others. 




2013 is largely viewed as a bad year for real estate business due to the slowdown in the economy and the decline in the value of the rupee, rising cost of construction materials? Give us an understanding of Vardhman Group’s performance, the projects launched and the strategies employed to tide over the crisis?  


It is rightly said that 2013 was a dull year for the real estate business as apart from the above mentioned reasons political uncertainty gave no direction to the industry. The matters went worse for developers who are leveraged and due to slack in sales the inventory and cost of inventory both rose exponentially. At Vardhman Group we have always believed in not leveraging the company at all. Hence the impact of the economic scenario turned out to become an opportunity to acquire new projects. In fact during last year itself, the group launched 3 residential projects, and acquired more projects.




Will you talk about your Group’s focus on cluster redevelopment – old and dilapidated buildings, slums and cooperative societies? What is the extent of the problem in Mumbai and tell us of the projects you have taken up in the redevelopment space? How does the economics work for you?


We are one of the stakeholders of a couple of clusters in South Mumbai to be redeveloped. In our opinion, the recent move by the government for modifying the guideline for cluster redevelopment is welcome. Ultimately the government has seen that cluster redevelopment has failed. By providing more incentives to tenants/occupants in South Mumbai to lure them for cluster redevelopment is a welcome step. The main hitch here is that there will still be some properties which may not agree for cluster redevelopment. In view of that proper acquisition of these buildings for cluster redevelopment has to be implemented by providing them with incentive in constructed areas. All clusters have to be identified with proper master planning, so that additional open spaces are created with good infrastructure, hospitals, schools, colleges and others. A holistic approach has to be taken for cluster redevlopment and the approvals and sanctions should be made swifter and easier.




There is currently a lot of emphasis on luxury leading to price points going beyond the reach of the average Mumbaikar? As a builder with social concerns what are you specifically doing about it?


The emphasis on luxury housing has come up largely due to the polarisation of the buyer and the demand being generated from the super risk for such luxurious properties. This segment although shows large numbers but are very small in stock as compared to the housing for the average Mumbaikars. As a developer we have focused equally on both segments wherein we are developing properties as per the demographics of the region.




Tell us of the affordable housing projects being done by your organisation – locations, cost and status?


Affordable housing is a broad term. We see that in each belt of Mumbai i.e. South, North or Central the projects are designed in such a way that people can afford it. But due to land prices suburban areas are more affordable. Creation of 1 BHK flats in some of the projects is of paramount important so customer can purchase their dream home.




Give us an idea of the role played Vardhan Capital & Finance Ltd in the financing space? 


Vardhan Capital and finance is a listed NBFC but has not been much active in the financing space. However the company is lending to selected real estate developers.




Tell us about your emphasis you place on green buildings and sustainability and the best practices you have introduced in your projects in terms of innovation and technology, quality construction material and project management techniques?


We as a group believe that one should reinvent themselves to cope up with the challenges of the future. We strongly believe that sustainable construction and adoption of green technology will be inevitable for survival.

We are focusing on developing projects which are compiled with such technology in order to create structure that are extremely durable – last for the next century – and save electricity and water.




Give us an idea of the projects undertaken by your organisation in the infrastructure development space?


The projects undertaken by our group under the infrastructure space were largly those of development of ROB,  under passes, such as a bridge at Jaipur Railway station.




How has your acquisition of a majority stake in Stresscrete India Ltd helped your real estate business as also your infrastructure activities?


Both business are in different spaces and do not bear any correlation among them. However the acquisition of Stresscrete helped the group in gaining strategic advantage and an in-house pre-cast division, with engineering sophistication and a strong team of technical people.




Tell us of your activities in the entertainment, amusement, and hospitality and education space?


The group ventured into the entertainment and hospitality space by developing Vardhman Fantasy, a theme park located at the Shivar Gardens in the Mira-Bhayandar area of Greater Mumbai. Spread lavishly over 11 acres, Vardhman Fantasy aims to become a landmark in every sense. The Vardhman Group believes that life is incomplete without some pleasurable experiences. It is for that reason that we have introduced the World’s Most Entertaining Theme Park! Already we have garnered the highest footfalls in India in our theme park. The ‘Vie Club’ is another revolution that is about to take place just adjoining the park. This revolutionary club shall be among the most high-class clubs in the vicinity with amenities fit for a king. Banquets, rich interiors, sports etc are just some of the things that the club will offer. 




What is your organisation doing in terms of CSR?


In terms of CSR the group has offered to society the Vardhman Fantasy Park, which is the world’s most affordable theme amusement park group. This is our contribution for recreational activities.




What is your outlook for the real estate business in 2014?


We have a very positive outlook. We expect political stability after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The real estate sector has seen its worst period and there is only scope for betterment. But the government will have to take serious initiatives to implement various policies which are simple. Approvals should be made easier and in a time bound manner.

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