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Trumpeting his way into India
Sudha Menon / 9 August 2012
Move over, Mumbai, Bangalore. Pune city, once called the cultural capital of India and the Oxford of the East, is where the action is happening in all things expensive, tasteful and aspirational. Why else do you think American real estate mogul Donald Trump would zero in on this city of some 55 lakh population, to give wings to his branded real estate dreams in India?
Denizens of the city woke up on Wednesday morning to front page news announcing the launch of Trump Towers, Pune, a super luxury residential apartment project that will give the well-heeled, brand conscious home buyer a slice of the fabled Trump lifestyle and experience. Up for grabs will be 42 super-luxury, five-bedroom condominiums of around 6,100 square feet and two penthouses of over 10,000 square feet each , housed in twin 22 storied towers. Each of the apartments will be built with their own home theatre rooms in addition to the other perks of owning a Trump home. Located in the upscale Kalyani Nagar area which is amongst the city’s fastest growing localities, the homes will sell at a rate of Rs20,000 per square feet. Plus the extra price for the privilege of living in a seriously branded home, of course. The apartments will sport a price tag of over Rs12 crore each and will get in revenues of between Rs475-500 crore for the company, Sagar Chordia, director, Panchshil Realty told this newspaper from New York.
“Luxury lifestyle is fast catching up in India and with the growing number of high-net individuals in the country, we have realised that our brand adds significant value to ultra luxury real estate developments in Pune. As a company, we are constantly looking for developers with the passion to redefine luxury and develop iconic buildings and I am proud to say that we share the same passion as Panchshil,” Donald Trump Jr said in a statement.
Panchshil, the realty company which will construct the super luxury product, with architectural, material and other technical support from Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka who is in charge of international acquisitions, will also use another trump card to add value to their newest project: India’s love affair with all things Bollywood. In this case, the real estate firm steered by brothers Atul and Sagar Chordia have roped in Bollywood hunk, he of the gorgeous muscles and washboard abs, John Abraham, to build a signature gym and health club for the residents of Trump Towers.
The Chordias are no strangers to the world of luxury apartments. They are the folk who started the trend of signature homes in Pune city, causing a few jaws to drop in envy a couple of years ago when they announced their tie-up with design guru Phillipe Starck to bring in Yoo branded properties. ( his design collaboration with property John Hitchcox ). That property, also scheduled to be ready beginning 2014, comprises 228 luxury apartments in six towers, each with Starck’s cutting edge design, set amidst the backdrop of a 17-acre rain forest. Among other things, home owners in the YooPune project can look forward to pampering sessions at a luxurious Six Senses Spa located within the complex.
Among those who have purchased apartments in Yoo by Phillipe Starck are Sanjiv Bajaj, Executive Director of two wheeler company Bajaj Auto and Managing Director of Bajaj Finserve, the company’s financial services arm. Also on the buyers list for the Yoo project is Yohan Poonawalla, a multi-millionaire scion of the super-rich Poonawalla group with interests in Pharmaceuticals, Hotels and Horses.
“Wealthy Indian families are increasingly looking for exclusive, large-sized apartments instead of the hassle of trying to build and maintain their own bungalows. Besides world class living, we also give them the much-needed privacy and security in our projects and that is where we have our niche,” Chordia said . Pune city’s expensive homes are also what high net worth bankers and individuals from Mumbai are betting their money on. This is the category of people who have the money in their pockets but have to make do with much smaller apartments in Mumbai city where their money does not stretch much, given the way prices have shot through the roof in the last decade or so. Many of these individuals either use these as investment opportunities or luxurious retirement homes.
Panchshil’s current portfolio also includes One North, another luxury residential project that will have , among other features, residences designed by Bollywood hero Akshay Kumar’s designer wife, Twinkle Khanna, daughter of yesteryear super star Rajesh Khanna and wife Dimple. Twinkle Khanna owns her own interiors company, The White Window that has designed the homes of a number of Hindi film actors including Rani Mukerji’s new home.
The Chordias are old hands at selling aspirations to the wealthy, discerning buyer. A few years ago they convinced socialite author Ms Shobhaa De, who has a weekend home in Pune city, to design a limited edition of their signature line homes in Panchshil’s upscale Silver Woods condominium project. After those got picked up like hot cake by a brand-hungry buying population, the company has made celebrity-designed apartments a part of their upscale projects. Others have been quick to follow suit. Bollywood Badshah, Shah Rukh Khan’s camera shy wife Gauri was recently signed up by another real estate developer, to design couture penthouses for their new luxury project in Pune. While no details of her fee has been released, industry watchers insist that it is well in the range of what an A-list female lead would get for a film role!
“Trump Tower will be one of the finest residential projects in the country. Panchshil has just taken living to the next level,” Atul Chordia, Chairman, Panchshil Realty said.
Trump Towers Pune will be the address symbolizing the upper-crest living in Pune and be the most prestigious address to reside in,” Sagar Chordia added.
Residences in Trump Towers Pune, meanwhile, will be intelligent homes and will have their interiors designed by Italian designer Matteo Nunziati. Interestingly, Trump Towers, Pune, is not owned, developed or sold by Donald J. Trump, the Trump Organization or any of their principals or affiliates. Zero G Apartments Private Limited is the owner, developer and promoter of the property, in association with Premsagar Hotels Private Limited, Atul Chordia and Sagar Chordia, and uses the “Trump” name and mark under license from DT Marks Pune LLC.
For a market where consumers are clearly lusting for brand name possessions- the city has one of the fastest growing population of luxury cars too- it is clearly enough that they have the moolah to own and live in a Trump branded home. The brand has projects currently in the United States, Panama, Canada, Philippines and Turkey and is known for their brand of luxury in residential, hotel, office, retail and golf properties. What use an expensive car or a home, if there is no big ticket name or brand attached, seems to be the refrain in the buying community.
Meanwhile, for the real estate billionaire, this could just prove to be a case of third time lucky. In the last couple of years the tycoon has signed up with partners in Mumbai and then Bangalore, for his Trump Tower project. While the Mumbai project did not take off because of delay in getting regulatory clearances and statutory building approvals, it is not clear why the Bangalore project did not materialize.
The Chordias are now looking for properties in Bangalore, Gurgaon and Mumbai that are suited for luxury residences and might pitch these projects as well toTrump.
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