What Makes A City Smart?

Kishor Pate 2Kishor Pate, CMD – Amit Enterprises Housing Ltd.

What makes a city, a great place to live and work in? The question is pertinent, given that by 2030, 5 billion people – or about 60% of the world’s entire population – will live in cities.

For countries like India and for the leaders who govern this country and plan our cities, not only accommodating the huge inward migration from the urban areas but also a life worth living has become a huge challenge.

People should be able to benefit from urbanization without having to wrestle with aging infrastructure and lack of amenities. Within the process of urbanization, people are struggling to maintain not only their livelihoods but also attain a modicum of happiness. Particularly in this era, everyone wants a better quality of life.

How can one measure this, if at all? What it boils down to is this – the smarter a city is, the happier its inhabitants will be. This is where the concept of Smart Cities came form in the first place, but ‘smartness’ when applied to an urban area is actually a much broader concept.

There are certain counts on which the performance of any city depends: its economy, its population and the social conditions they live in, and its environment. But there is yet another factor that plays a large role in the performance of a city – namely its leaders. A smart city has smart, innovative and resourceful people at the helm.

The inherent qualities of such a smart leadership are that it achieves and maintain smart growth, does more with less and is able to win support for change. A city that doesn’t change is dumb, not smart. Smart city leaders will consistently and successfully push for change.

Of course, every leader wants his city’s economy to grow and flourish. The problem is that economic growth will not always lead towards a better quality of life for citizens – in fact, it can stifle it. We know that in India, economic growth without the benefit of ‘smart direction’ can rapidly lead to compromised infrastructure, unhealthy environment and the unregulated real estate developments in the form of slums and illegally constructed housing.

Smart cities are those that have taken extensive and determined preventive measures against these known side-effects effects of economic growth.

Smart City Concept

Smart growth is always an outcome of a strategic and well-planned approach. While planning a city, it is essential to keep the needs and demands of its population, now and in the future, first and foremost in mind.

Offering tax breaks to tempt newcomers into the city are all very well, but if such initiatives are not accompanied by measures such as pollution control, a forward-looking infrastructure support and timely technological interventions, the city will grow economically but fail as an inhabitable area.

In a smart city, the areas which need the most attention will be the primary focus of its leaders. The first step to this is to recognize the city’s competitive advantages, identify the clusters that are in need of strengthening or nurturing, and apply funding and action into those areas.

Even where a city has so far been following a ‘dumb’ approach to growth, such an approach can eventually make it smart. It can become future-ready. When it comes to cities, one must always plan for change – always plan for the future. Nothing is lost to the past if the future is planned for intelligent change.

In the current environment of fast-paced technological innovation and research and development, the path of relying on ‘tried and tested’ formulae of urban planning is the road to extinction.

About The Author

Kishor Pate, Chairman & Managing Director of Amit Enterprises Housing Ltd. is the driving force behind one of the most successful real estate development firms in Pune and beyond. Apart from its signature luxury homes towers and premium gated townships, AEHL has also launched highly successful affordable housing projects like Astonia Classic and Colori in Undri and the Mediterranean-style township Astonia Royale in Ambegaon.

 

Why Developers Launch Projects Even In Slow Market Conditions

Kishor Pate 2Kishor Pate, CMD – Amit Enterprises Housing Ltd.

Top developers have a strategy of launching new projects even in a slow market, and there is sound logic behind this. There is always demand for residential projects at convenient locations and with good amenities. If the pricing of the project is also in line with what buyers are willing to pay, there is no reason why sales will not be generated.

Market research confirms that sales are taking place, even if it is at a slower rate. These sales are happening for the right kinds of projects – it is projects in the wrong locations, with fewer or the wrong kinds of amenities and with the wrong pricing that are finding no takers.

As a matter of fact, prices of projects have been showing a gradually decreasing trend over the last one year. Developers are offering lucrative deals and discounts on their projects, thereby helping to create end-user markets rather than just pandering to investors, as had been the trend in the past.

Overall, it can be said that the residential real estate industry has reached its lowest trough both with regard to prices and sales. The only change that can now come to the market is a positive one, and the graph will begin rising upward from here onward, not least of all because the Indian economy has strengthened and will continue to gain in strength going forward.

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The government is also extending more support to the real estate industry than ever before, and the cumulative results of these favourable circumstances will definitely be seen from this year onward. With India makes strong strides on the path of development, interest in real estate investment is going to increase steeply over the coming years.

Today, cities still accommodate only about 40% of the population in India. But with increasing economic growth, more and more people will shift to urban areas, spawning more and more demand for homes in all price ranges. Developers who continue to launch their projects even while the market is slow are investing in this future.

If we take a closer look at the unsold inventory of residential real estate in India today, the numbers are undoubtedly large. Nevertheless, there is no shortage of new launches scheduled. In fact, we will see even more residential supply hitting the market in 2016 than we saw in 2015.

It is pertinent to note that most of the unsold projects in India today are the result of deficient planning on the part of their developers. They have chosen flawed or hopelessly futuristic locations where people are not interested in moving, and/or have included high-end amenities that drive up the overall cost beyond what buyers are willing to pay.

As we embark into 2016, we will see that the new residential launches are more aligned with the existing demand, both in terms of pricing and what they have to offer.

About The Author

Kishor Pate, Chairman & Managing Director of Amit Enterprises Housing Ltd. is the driving force behind one of the most successful real estate development firms in Pune and beyond. Apart from its signature luxury homes towers and premium gated townships, AEHL has also launched highly successful affordable housing projects like Astonia Classic and Colori in Undri and the Mediterranean-style township Astonia Royale in Ambegaon.

Undri’s Enduring Attractiveness To Pune’s Home Buyers

Kishor Pate 2Kishor Pate, CMD – Amit Enterprises Housing Ltd.

The city of Pune has been acting like a magnet for the working masses. The growth in the IT/ITeS, hospitality and services sectors has been creating a steady demand for residential properties, but a lot of the inner city is already saturated.

Development is thus spreading into new locations, many of which are undergoing large-scale transformation. One of these locations is Undri which, though one of the more recent entrants in the Pune real estate market, is already witnessing huge housing demand for several reasons.

First and foremost, most home buyers in Pune are in search for affordable housing that will cater to their families’ spatial needs while at the same time not being too far removed from the advantages of the city.

Locations like Wanowrie, Salunke Vihar and NIBM have already reached maximum capacity in terms of meeting this demand, and have by and large become too expensive for the taste of budget home buyers. The demand for affordable housing that can no longer be met in these locations has now percolated into Undri.

As recently as 4-5 years ago, Undri lacked the kind of infrastructure that would attract residential real estate buyers and investors. However, things have rapidly changed since.

The growth of the manufacturing and Information Technology sectors in the adjoining areas has made Undri the new Mecca of real estate development, and Pune’s leading developers are now part of the action there.

Today, Undri offers both budget and affordable luxury segment housing, which means that it addresses a broad cross-section of Pune’s real estate demand.

Undri’s superior location advantages have worked well in its favor. It is conveniently close to Pune Camp, and is also easily accessible from various other key centers in Pune. Road-widening initiatives and other infrastructure enhancements are constantly adding to the value of this location on Pune’s real estate map.

Colori Phase 2 Undri

Being close to NIBM, Salunke Vihar and Wanowrie, Undri provides easy access to shopping, entertainment and healthcare, but the biggest advantage it offers to residents is the fact that it is conveniently close to the IT and ITeS hubs of SP Infocity and Magarpatta. This factor makes Undri a very desirable location to transferring employees and new job takers in these establishments.

With Undri now having been partially absorbed into the Pune Municipal Limits and the rest soon to follow, it is very attractive to real estate investors. This will in turn induce the counter effect of faster infrastructure development and commercial activity.

Between 2014 and 2015, when real estate markets across the country were experiencing decent, Pune was able to hold its own – largely thanks to cost-effective, high-demand locations like Undri, which has been attracting demand from blue-collar as well as white-collar professionals who are looking to upgrade their current living standards.

Undri is perfect for home seekers who are looking for a way out of the concrete jungles of the saturated inner city. It is a well-planned residential location with hospitals, schools, commercial hubs, shopping and recreation within easy reach, yet affordable to the largest segment of home buyers in Pune.

About The Author

Kishor Pate, Chairman & Managing Director of Amit Enterprises Housing Ltd. is the driving force behind one of the most successful real estate development firms in Pune and beyond. Apart from its signature luxury homes towers and premium gated townships, AEHL has also launched highly successful affordable housing projects like Astonia Classic and Colori in Undri and the Mediterranean-style township Astonia Royale in Ambegaon.