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The new name plates at India's toniest localities

A new breed of HNIs is making the most of the slow market to own luxury homes in coveted localities

Published: Apr 4, 2018 02:57:21 PM IST
Updated: Apr 4, 2018 03:53:52 PM IST

The new name plates at India's toniest localities

Fit for a King

After three failed auctions by banks, the Kingfisher Villa in Goa was bought by actor-cum-entrepreneur Sachiin Joshi for a bargain price of ₹73 crore

In 2004, Sachiin Joshi, son of JM Joshi, founder of the Pune-based JMJ Group, received an invite to a party at Kingfisher Villa, in Candolim, Goa, which was then owned by flamboyant industrialist Vijay Mallya.

The sprawling, Goan-styled, 35,000-plus-sq-ft villa that sits on three acres, with direct access to the beach, was where the former promoter of Kingfisher Airlines threw his most lavish parties up until December 2015.

That month, Mallya is known to have hosted his biggest and most expensive house party, costing over $2 million, to ring in his 60th birthday, even as Indian public sector banks started tightening the noose around him. Barely two months later, he left for London, not to return.

“For a moment, I felt I wasn’t in India,” says Joshi, 33, recalling his first visit to the place. “It was magnanimous. It has a road frontage and a beach frontage; few properties in Goa have that. It’s one of those rare properties that you get to see in your lifetime.”

Even former West Indies cricket captain Chris Gayle, who had the opportunity to stay at Kingfisher Villa, had commented, “It’s bigger than most hotels. It’s cooler than any house.” Sprawling lawns, a swimming pool, a beach to walk down to, concrete, glass, and handcrafted teak wood interiors made the villa a dream home for many, including Joshi.

Having started his career as an actor in 2002 with two regional films Mounamelanoyi and Ninu Choodaka Nenundalenu (both in Telugu), Joshi turned entrepreneur with his company Viiking Ventures in 2012. The company has interests in alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and sports, entertainment, real estate, fitness and hospitality. “I was never inclined to the family business because I wanted to create my own individuality,” he says. While he was part of his father’s JMJ Group, which makes essential oil extracts for pan masala, chewing tobacco and mouth fresheners, Joshi says he’s now focusing solely on Viiking Ventures.

Acting remains a passion. His last film, Yaar Ivan, was a bilingual (in Tamil and Telugu) action drama that released in September 2017, and got mixed reviews. But even in his wildest dreams, Joshi had not imagined that he would be the owner of Kingfisher Villa.

The new name plates at India's toniest localitiesThe King’s Mansion, previously known as the Kingfisher Villa, sits on 3 acres in Candolim, Goa

In 2017, after three failed auction attempts, lenders led by the State Bank of India sold Kingfisher Villa to Joshi for ₹73 crore. The banks had taken possession of the property a year earlier after Mallya, who defaulted on loans owed by his Kingfisher Airlines, was labelled a fugitive by the Indian government. The initial bid price of the property was over ₹100 crore.

It was a dream come true for Joshi, who says: “If I ever want to make a house or buy a house it should be like this [Kingfisher Villa].” Joshi, who owns and operates the Planet Hollywood resort in Goa and is the owner of the Goa King’s brand of beer, does not plan to stay at Kingfisher Villa, which was renamed King’s Mansion in November 2017. “I have a few ideas at the moment,” he says, adding, “I’m thinking if I could turn it into a med-spa [medical-spa] resort.”

Joshi is setting aside about ₹35 crore to refurbish the property, which he says has major ‘vaastu’ issues.

That said, given the brouhaha over the property, Joshi’s winning deal of ₹73 crore could be considered a steal. He thinks so too. “I think a ₹200 crore valuation is definitely there on the property,” he says.

Pankaj Kapoor, founder and managing director of real estate consultancy firm Liases Foras, says, “The bids were revised three times... what it really says is that there is some kind of rationalising happening in the luxury market. Premium properties have become discount properties.” Kapoor is of the view that Indian ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNIs) have scaled down on buying big-ticket homes, most notably in Mumbai and New Delhi.

For Joshi, though, his dream home remains a dream. “It is one that you want to make. I want mine to be free of pollution—noise, sound and air. It’s really difficult to find a destination like that,” he says.
The new name plates at India's toniest localitiesGolf Links is located on the fringes of New Delhi’s coveted Lutyens’ Bungalow Zone
Image: Madhu Kapparath

Brick-and-Mortar Play by Digital Czar

Paytm’s Vijay Shekhar Sharma has a ₹82 crore new address in Delhi’s Golf Links

Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma, 39—the youngest billionaire on the 2017 Forbes India Rich List—bought a 6,000 sq ft property in Golf Links, New Delhi, in June last year for ₹82 crore.

Sharma, who was 99th on the list with a net worth of $1.47 billion, declined to comment on this purchase. However, he is said to be looking at redeveloping the property before moving out of his current residence in Greater Kailash, South Delhi.

Golf Links is located on the fringes of New Delhi’s coveted Lutyens’ Bungalow Zone (LBZ), which comprises around 1,000 bungalows, of which 70 are in private hands; the rest are owned by the government.

Though it’s the most expensive real estate zone in the country, Sharma’s home buy is rather ordinary compared to the big bucks that have poured into LBZ and Golf Links in the past. “In terms of the quantum of money, it is a large deal, but wouldn’t stack up anywhere close to the largest deals that run into hundreds of crores,” says Anuj Puri, chairman of Anarock Property Consultants.

In December 2016, The Economic Times reported that Renuka Talwar, daughter of DLF chairman and billionaire KP Singh, bought a bungalow on Prithviraj Road for ₹435 crore. A year earlier, in Golf Links, Dabur Group’s VC Burman bought a property for ₹160 crore.

“The luxury real estate market is subdued across the country and LBZ is no exception. It was certainly the correct price that he [Sharma] got in the current market conditions and is certainly much lower than what the valuations would have been at their peak,” explains Puri. Property prices in Golf Links and even in LBZ have fallen by 15-17 percent since 2014, he says.

The new name plates at India's toniest localities
Ajit Prabhu, who lives in Singapore, has bought a 16,000-sq-ft apartment. He’ll stay there when he relocates to India for five years from 2020

Coming Home to Luxury

Singapore-based QuEST chief Ajit Prabhu has acquired a ₹50-crore residence in Bengaluru

Ajit Prabhu, 46, chairman and CEO of the Singapore-headquartered engineering firm QuEST Global, made headlines last October with the purchase of a marquee residential property in Bengaluru.

Prabhu, who resides in Singapore but visits India often, bought the 16,000 sq ft, single unit residence on the 30th floor of the under development Four Seasons Private Residences at Embassy ONE for ₹50 crore. That averages to about ₹31,250 per sq ft, making it the third highest property transaction in the history of the southern metro city.

Billionaire Ranjan Pai, promoter of the Manipal Group, had in 2014 bought 24,000 sq ft of office space on the 15th floor of JW Marriott Hotel in central Bengaluru for about ₹32,000 per sq ft. Two years prior to that, an 8,000 sq ft apartment in Kingfisher Towers at UB City sold for around ₹33,000 per sq ft.

“I will be moving back to India in 2020 for five years. I wanted something midway between the airport and the city,” Prabhu tells Forbes India. London-based designer Oro Bianco is designing his abode.

Located in north Bengaluru, Embassy ONE, being developed by billionaire Jitendra Virwani’s Embassy group, is an over-1-million-sq-ft lifestyle development that comprises the 230-room Four Seasons Hotel and 105 private residences, including 200,000 sq ft of office and retail space.
“Residence-office-hotel is a concept we love. It gives my family the amenities they need while I’m on travel; they don’t need to step out of the compound,” says Prabhu. Some of the other well-known personalities to have bought residences at Embassy ONE include actor Deepika Padukone and a few of the co-founders of Infosys.

Bengaluru is seeing a surge in ultra-luxury homes with the total value of such projects, which are under various stages of development, being pegged at ₹6,000 crore.

“For a luxury development, size and location continue to remain the main criteria and play a key role in the profile of the property. While earlier these used to be restricted to large plots of land, today, apartments in high-end complexes are also being given the luxury tag,” says Anshuman Magazine, chairman, India and Southeast Asia, CBRE, a property consultancy firm. “The concept of a luxury home has become one that incorporates various facilities, conveniences and provides a luxurious atmosphere.”

For Prabhu, a self-made entrepreneur from the small town of Hubballi in Karnataka, who built a $500-million revenue company, “owning and living in a luxurious penthouse itself makes us happy about our accomplishment”. But the Four Seasons Private Residences is not his dream home. “We will sell this house when we leave,” he says. “A dream house is not based on size or how costly it is; it is having a place where you have your family living with laughter, love and respect. We have had this all along, even while living in a 300 sq ft house in Hubballi.”

(This story appears in the 13 April, 2018 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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