Consumers are searching actively for properties in Dombivli in Thane. Using this as a benchmark, Magicbricks set out to figure what it is about this location that drives users. Affordability was the biggest driver. You can get a 1BHK in Dombivli for Rs 21-50 lakh, a 2BHK for Rs 31-85 lakh and a 3BHK for Rs 45 lakh – Rs 1.07 crore. This is significantly more affordable than Thane West where the average values are about Rs 10,500 per sq ft compared to Rs 5,980 per sq ft in Dombivli East and Rs 6,300 per sq ft in Domivli West.
However, while social infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, entertainment and retail centres get a thumbs up from consumers, roads, traffic, cleanliness and parking was downvoted by consumers. Planned as part of the Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation in 1983, it is a riverside location with the Ulhas river forming its boundaries and running across the city. With a large amount of new housing stock hitting the market, Dombivli is in favour with those working in Thane, a newly evolving business district and those working in Andheri or BKC, thanks to being well connected by rail.
According to a survey on magicbricks.com, townships have been catching the fancy of users in Dombivli. There are at least three large townships in the Dombivli area – Runwal’s 156-acre MyCity, Marathon’s 14-acre NextTown and Lodha’s 4,500 acre Palava City. Participatory planning and management seems to be at the core of this new phase of premium middle-class, aspirational living.
Says Shaishav Dharia, Regional CEO, Lodha Group, “Palava has citizens from across its immediate neighbourhood – Kalyan-Dombivli-Thane and across the Central and Western suburbs of Mumbai. It also sees substantial interest and investment from an NRI audience.”
Palava is a Greenfield Smart City being built by the Lodha Group across an expanse of 4500 acres. Since it has the advantage of size and therefore scale, the city harnesses the waterfront very well and has invested in its maintenance as well as waterfront development. For sports lovers, there is a FIFA-standard football stadium (with a city team), multi-sport arena, cricket grounds and a 9-hole golf course. For the 25,000 citizens already living in 301 towers, there are schools, clubhouses, a mall and neighbourhood shopping and medical facilities.
Dharia says “The choice is often influenced by the facilities being offered to them and the buyer doesn’t hesitate to raise the budget for better infrastructure and facilities. This is often why integrated townships are chosen over standalone societies.” Urban planner and commentator Mukta Naik says “The consumer purchases into townships because initially there are advantages of premium facilities and integrated living as the townships are often outside the city limits. So working and living in the same integrated complex has its advantages. However as the city extends to the proximity of the township, that advantage disappears as the lifestyle facilities come up inside and outside the township.”
Is there then a discrepancy between onsite facilities within the township and those outside? Dharia says “Palava is managed by a private organisation called the Palava City Management Organisation (PCMA). It maintains, manages, services and supervises state-of-art, smart and quality civic infrastructure. Be it a 24×7 command centre overseeing the city’s safety and security, the all-purpose and unique Palava Smart Card, efficient 311 and 611 city services, prompt 911 emergency service, citizen e-portal and app, Free public Wi-Fi or alliance with IBM for city operations, Palava is indeed a Smart City across all its functionalities. PCMA works towards enhancing the quality of living for the citizens of Palava, at affordable costs.”
However, those portions of the city that are cut by main city roads and highways have to put up with the problems of potholed roads, unorganised traffic and noise and chaos. Naik says the initial advantages of the secluded haven can continue when there is a long-term balance in the type of neighbourhood, causes like water and waste management that is veering towards zero waste systems etc. Since the development authority is the sanctioning body for townships, normally the municipal authorities in India are picking up the pieces and trying to complete the integration puzzle rather than planning for seamless lifestyle features across public and private developments.”
Ultimately, the consumer is willing to pay for a quality of life. No longer is buying a home just fulfilling a basic need. Home buying is aspirational and lifestyle, infrastructure, ease of commute, safety and quality of neighbourhood matters. The better the management of facilities the higher the demand for units and therefore, the better the rate of appreciation of values.