“Don’t want to be the biggest but the best at what we do”
In the year 2000 Amarjit Bakshi along with his younger brother, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi established Central Park– the real estate arm of the conglomerate with interests in Hospitality, Auto Components, and Infrastructure. SapnaSrivastava in a candid chat with Amarjit Bakshi, Founder and Managing Director, Central Park discussed the current state of the industry and his company growth plans.
An alumnus of Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi, Amarjit Bakshi started his career with building construction and then moved on to highway and airport construction. “That was back in 1972, when we were doing many infrastructure projects including highways and laying airport runways for about 42 airports in India. In between, there were some real estate projects as well. Then in 1980 I moved on to the industrial sector and it was in late 90’s that we realized that real estate is going to come up in a big way. That’s how in year 2000 we came up with Central Park 1 which was our first real estate project in Gurugram. After the success of Central Park 1, we launched Central Park 2 which became the largest group housing colony with more than 2500 apartments. That prompted us to buy more land and grow the real-estate business,”Bakshi recounts.
Have you always wanted it to be luxury or premium housing developer?
We have considerable presence in NCR region with Central Park on Golf Course Road, Central Park Resorts and Flower Valley at Sohna Road and Central Park Flower Valley project that will see residential development of 250 acres.Central Park will develop a 40 lakh square feet mixed-use project in Sector Sector 67, Noida based on the ‘Walk to Work’ concept offering office and residential space, retail complex, hospitality outlets and schools within the project.
Customers’ needs keep changing from time to time. We strive to provide in our projects not only good construction but also livability. That is why, even after handing over the possession of a project, we continue to maintain and service it over a period of few years. Developers are now taking very conscious decisions of their operating and business models. While, many are opting for mid-segment or mass housing or even niche segments like senior living, Central Park would like to be in the luxury and ultra-luxury segment as our business model is to provide a service rather than just a real estate.
What is the Central Park marketing strategy?
For any project, market research is very important. Studying the site geography, consumer profile and market needs a suitable product should be designed. Also as per RERA, the developers cannot alter their project designs once launched. There is no clear-cut formula for the marketing strategy or deciding the ticket sizetherefore we spend a lot of time on market analysis before introducing a project. At Central Park 3 which we call as flower valley, we aim to take develop 500 acres as a smart township. The project will have many segments including senior living, commercial, schools, extraordinary clubs, and all types of sports activities. Construction for this project is going strong and we might even deliver before time.
How do you see that industry changing?
The success of a developer lies in the deliverability. Today, it is definitely a buyers-market. The marketing strategies have accordingly become very pro-active. The developer’s ‘take it or leave it’ attitude has vanished. Now customer experience has become a very strong factor and real estate companies are employing trained customer service persons. With RERA, now there is some sort of discipline and accountability in the sector. Consolidation and JVs will happen but also a lot of new players will join. Also, the fly by night operators will be working even now. You should always keep some room for them.
NCR has much more vacant inventory than other states where the challenge is not so acute. It will take about 3-4 years to clear and government too is being helpful so that market picks up for sales. In response prices are coming down, but, it’s not a wait and watch situation for consumers as moving forward prices are going to go higher due to increasing compliances costs, cost of materials and construction. The structure of the country is improving, deliverability is improving and most importantly sales terms are improving. Genuine subvention schemes are available and consumers are taking benefit of those.
“We are adebt-free company. Our immediate motivation is not profit. It sounds very foolish but the fact is that our long-term views are very clear. For that short term benefits are to be sacrificed which we are doing very gracefully.”
What are the growth plans for Central Park?
Our growth plans are very lavish in the sense that we are looking at flower valley to become a 500-acre project. About 4.5 million more square feet is going to be added to Central Park 2. We are also coming up with a commercial project in Flower Valley as well as behind our Le Meridian Hotel in Gurugram. Then we are looking starting construction of three very large hotels in Goa were we already have the property and are getting the permissions.
Also, we don’t want to be trapped into debt. We are practically debt-free. That way you can classify us under people who are not ambitious.