With cities growing rapidly and infrastructure not keeping pace, the daunting work commute given a massive impetus to the ‘walk-to-work’ concept in India. Cities like Bengaluru, Pune and Hyderabad were the forerunners of this primarily IT/ITeS-driven phenomenon. Chennai is the next city to begin ‘walking’ this critical concept to ‘work’.
Several localities in the city now offer homebuyers the option to walk/cycle to work or significantly reduce their daily commute time. In addition, most of these localities are relatively affordable, self-sustained residential hubs with good social and physical infrastructure.
The availability of large land tracts near the employment hubs supports the development of amenity-rich and lifestyle-enhancing gated community projects. Compared to smaller housing projects, gated communities also provide a more cohesive, collaborative environment.
Chennai’s Emerging Walk-to-work Hotspots
Along OMR, locations such as Perungudi, Thalambur and Perumbakkam offer multiple advantages including a short commute to workplace hubs and an upmarket lifestyle at a comparably lower cost. These options make perfect sense for homebuyers employed in and around Taramani and Perungudi.
As per ANAROCK data, the average property prices in Perungudi range from INR 5,300 – 7,500 per sq. ft. – nearly 1/3rd the prices in Adyar and significantly lower than inThiruvanmiyur, where prices are from INR 8,400 – 12,200 per sq. ft. Perungudi’s property prices are also comparable to those in Velachery (INR 5,200 – 8,200 per sq. ft.) – and it is conveniently close to the major employment hubs.
Demand & Supply
Perungudi saw the launch of nearly 2,600 new units between 2014 and Q1 2019, while the current unsold stock in the area is approx. 600 units. This more-than-decent uptick in housing sales over the last few years comes primarily from buyers who prefer to walk/cycle to work or feasibly use their own transport for significantly lower commute time.
Alternately, Perumbakkam (close to Shollinganallur ELCOT SEZ) and Thalambur have also upgraded their liveability quotient in recent years, even as property prices maintained status quo. The average property prices in these localities range between INR 3,400 – 5,000 per sq. ft., which is comparable to those in projects located beyond Kelambambakkam – around 10 km away from the major employment hub of Siruseri.
Current data indicates that both these locations have together seen the launch of nearly 6,800 new units between 2014-Q1 2019, while the current collective unsold stock stands at 1,900 units.
New Office Projects Catalyse More Affordable Hotspots
With Porur likely to see the influx of more IT Parks by players like RMZ Corp, K Raheja Corp and ASV, demand for housing in and around the area will gain momentum in the coming quarters. Besides being in close proximity to workplaces, prominent micro markets around this employment hub such as Iyappanthangal and Gerugambakkam offer a compelling buy proposition.
Property prices in the localities range between INR 3,600 – 6,000 per sq. ft. and their social and lifestyle facilities are comparable to those in the central city. With the upcoming Metro rail till Poonamallee, existing world-class hospitals and big box retailers as well as F&B outlets in place, these locations are extremely attractive.
Though developers are gearing up to capitalize on their advantages with several future launches, data indicates that housing supply has so far been marginal in both these locations. As per ANAROCK data, Iyappanthangal saw a mere 700 units launched between 2015 till Q1 2019, with no new launches in 2014. Gerugambakkam saw new supply of just around 350 units in the same period.
New Growth Areas – Rapid Evolution
Locations along GST Road have been traditional residential pockets thanks to the suburban transit system’s connectivity. The emergence of Perungalathur, Maraimalai Nagar and Mahindra World City as employment hubs has now increased the deployment of lifestyle facilities in this corridor.
Although the 45-km stretch is effectively shortened by the suburban transit system, properties located closer to the central city are priced above INR 8,000 per sq. ft., while those closer to major employment hubs are priced within INR 4,000 per sq. ft.
Similarly, Mogappair, Vanagaram, Ambattur and Nolambur – located close to Ambattur Industrial Estate – have also seen steady improvement in social infrastructure and overall liveability. Today, these locations have more than adequate lifestyle amenities and also offer a short commute to employment hubs – at real estate prices almost half of those in Anna Nagar.
Chennai’s Walk-to-work Culture – Steady Progress
At this stage, Chennai may not have caught up with Bangalore in terms of walk-to-work housing options; however, the concept is definitely emerging. Developers have realised its untapped potential and are eyeing affordable areas close to Chennai’s employment hubs to unleash such options.
Most importantly, these locations are seeing steady improvement in their social and civic infrastructure profiles, even as slower price growth in these erstwhile outskirts create a strong value proposition for homebuyers today.