Housing in Chennai was traditionally limited to independent houses. However, in the early ‘70s certain residential areas like Egmore, Kilpauk and Nandanam saw the arrival of a new concept of residential housing – apartment buildings. Since then, the city’s housing sector has evolved and moved from independent houses and apartments to gated communities and integrated townships. In fact, township living has become a very desirable concept in the Chennai of today.
Township living is community living within a larger, better-utilised land area, with amenities and facilities that make it self-contained or self-sufficient. As land within a metropolitan city becomes scarce and expensive, residential developers with the financial wherewithal to launch townships scout for large land parcels on the suburban areas of the city where the cost of land is much cheaper than in the city interiors. Once such a land parcel is identified, a developer will get an architect and often urban planning experts to design an integrated township to be built on it.
An integrated township project could comprise of residential plots, row houses, villas as well as low-rise and high rise apartments. However, it does not end with developing residential spaces. To attract home buyers to invest and live in these projects, it is imperative that physical and social infrastructure is also in place.
The physical infrastructure of an integrated township is partly developed partly by the developer (who will provide internal roads, lighting, open spaces, landscaping, etc.) and partly by the Government (which will provide externally connecting roads, water and electricity supply, sewerage connections, etc.) Social infrastructure like schools and colleges, hospitals, malls and other shopping areas, clubs and cineplexes play also heavily influences homebuyers’ decisions.
Likewise, proximity to office hubs is important, because buyers who are willing to invest extra to live in a township will expect this convenience. Township developers who wish to see their projects succeed must ensure that they get all these variables right – both in terms of the location of their projects and in providing shopping, healthcare, schools and high-grade office buildings which will attract corporate occupiers.
To provide the expected lifestyle embellishments to their buyers, township developers will also include recreational areas like club house, gymnasiums, swimming pool, game rooms and utility areas like convenience stores, ATMs, laundry, party halls and coffee shops.
The inherent advantages of moving into a residential township are:
- More housing choices in a large-scale development
- Better infrastructure
- Professional asset management
- Cosmopolitan living environment
- Higher investment value
The last factor is an important consideration for those who view their properties as performing assets. Chennai attracts a sizable migrant population in sectors like IT / ITES from other metropolitan cities of India. The trend among those seeking rental accommodations in residential townships as opposed to stand-alone residential buildings is seeing a quantum leap. The main reasons for this are the additional safety, convenience and lifestyle factor offered by large-scale community living. From the owner’s perspective, the asset is professionally managed and maintained, thereby attracting better rental yield and capital appreciation.
Although the capital values or price points of township projects may be marginally higher than in standalone residential projects, the amenities and lifestyle conveniences offered more than make up for the incremental cost.
Locations in Chennai which are rapidly developing as township catchments are the OMR and surroundings in the South, Anna Nagar in the West, and Perambur in North Chennai.
The success of the township living concept in Chennai has attracted leading national developers like Embassy, Hiranandani, DLF, Prestige, Godrej, Tata Housing, Olympia, Puravankara, Ozone etc. to develop township projects on the peripheries of the city. These projects are being developed in a phased manner, keeping pace with the changing dynamics of home buyers’ preference in terms of of sizes and specifications.