There are the run of the mill developers and there are ‘exquisite’ ones! Boman Rustom Irani, CMD of the Rustomjee Group belongs to the latter category. A first generation real estate developer and entrepreneur, he started his journey 16 years ago under the name Keystone Realtors which today is the well known brand called ‘Rustomjee’. With a development portfolio of approximately 30 million sq. ft. in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region and a dream project called ‘Global City’ spread across 217 acres in Virar, he unveils his grand plans of “Affordable Housing”. Mayura Shanbaug met the man who has unbound energy and an eye for detailing and feels that he ‘surely could make ‘affordable housing a reality’.
Affordable housing has been at the centre of our future growth strategy and we believe that there is a huge demand for affordable housing. For affordable housing, the key thing is availability of land which got to be cheap. Virar is a very good destination because of its connectivity by western railway, the life line of Mumbai. With destinations like Bandra and Malad becoming the new commercial hub, Virar now becomes the destination of choice as it is just a 50 minutes ride by train. Virar is also preferred today because it has lot of open spaces and a pollution free environment. There is an opportunity here for better development and planning, and that’s why we chose Virar for our project.
Virar faces huge power cuts, how do you plan to tackle the situation?
As a real estate developer, we have tied up with direct sources of water and power. The water situation is very good out here. For power, we have taken direct power supply from MEDC. We have also taken a direct lease line from MSDCL. Our consumers won’t have any problems in the future as far as these amenities are concerned.
Who are your target customers?
We have houses for all kinds of customers that is: 1BHK, 2BHK, 3BHK houses. We believe everyone has a right to a good life. Our mission is to create a good life for everyone.
What is the total investment of the project?
The total investment in the project adds up to around Rs. 120 crores.
Are you planning similar concepts in other parts as well, if yes where?
We plan to emulate the same ‘Global city’ concept with our partners, the Evershine Group in as many places as possible.
What is the total land mass available to Rustomjee?
We never believed in the concept of accumulating land mass for our projects. As and when we got the land we started the project. The global city project in Virar got delayed for nearly 2 years, but we were able to get a grip on the situation. We think Virar is one destination in the making like BKC in the next 5 years due to the large influx of people.
Tight liquidity, high interest rate, an industrial slowdown and negative market sentiments have affected the sector already. Do you see the slowdown in the industry to continue?
I agree that the interest rate is the only thing that affects the common man in a big way. However, I do believe that this is a short term blip. The RBI cannot contain inflation by just increasing the interest rates, so they will have to eventually let go off this horse carriage that they have been riding and will have to give in to a more holistic kind of cue to get inflation under control. I am confident that the present situation will not continue for long.
However for the next 3 to 6 months, I would be trading cautiously, but I feel that in the long term the markets would remain unaffected.
Do you believe destination development is a key going forward?
We believe for destination development a paradigm change is required and if these changes take place incrementally, than it is possible. We believe that developmental skills need to be applied and we will keep doing it as far as possible.
What are your views on Real Estate regulation Bill? Will it be able to tackle the lack of transparency that exists?
We are all for any kind of regulation and any kind of regulation bill that the government plans to bring in the near future. All we are saying is that regulate everyone connected to the real estate sector, including the local regulatory authorities, banks and even the consumers. We should be regulated to the extent that we are responsible. The other elements like the authorities who give us the permissions and at times they don’t comply even they should be regulated.
How do you see the future ahead?
In Mumbai, the approvals are not coming in. The data is based on registration numbers which is very low. If we get the approvals in time, the supply would increase and we would witness an increase in the number of registrations. The curve is bound to change its direction.
Will the property prices go down in the near future?
In the year 2008, when prices came down by 10 to 15%, it was only in certain pockets of the city where there was an oversupply. We feel that the situation would be difficult now as there is hardly a situation of oversupply anywhere in the city.
Is it the right time to buy?
The time is always right when you are buying a house to live in. But for a real estate investor the right time is now when the market is a bit sluggish, though we don’t encourage investors, only actual home seekers.