With its origins in Partition-era India, this real estate developer targets Mumbai’s luxury housing segment
The horrors of Partition plagued immigrants moving from India to Pakistan and vice-versa. It displaced millions of people and created a refugee crisis in the newly constituted dominions.
One such immigrant story is that of the late Girdaridas Raheja, who took his brothers and left Karachi in 1947. On reaching Mumbai, they took up odd jobs to earn a living.
Eventually, they started doing real estate brokerage and built their network in the sector. In 1955, Girdaridas and his brothers saw a big opportunity in the Mumbai real estate market - Sindhis displaced due to the Partition wanted to buy homes in the city and upgrade their living conditions.
“In the quest for a better lifestyle, some Sindhis were looking for homes in the Bandra-Khar-Santacruz micro market. So, the Raheja Brothers decided to tap this opportunity. Girdaridas raised funds for the venture and capitalised on his good relations with landowners. This is where it all began,” says Ram Raheja, a third-generation entrepreneur from the Raheja family and director at S Raheja Realty.
Focus on luxury housing
S Raheja Realty, started by Shyam Raheja in 2003, is a real estate project development firm. Although it was started by the same family and its legacy can be traced back to Girdaridas, it is separate from Raheja Brothers.
“Shyam Raheja has spearheaded several real estate projects across various scales and sectors. As the founder of S Raheja Realty, he seeks to maintain the traditional business values and ethics set forth by his late father Girdaridas,” adds Ram, who worked with Ricardo Bofill Taller De Architectura in Barcelona, Spain, before joining the family business.
Over the years, S Raheja Realty has developed numerous projects in luxury housing, primarily in Mumbai. In the previous decade, it ventured into the affordable housing market in mini-metros and Tier II cities.
“Our senior management includes civil engineers and architects. This professional expertise at the management level, coupled with an integrated team of experts, enables us to meet our commitments, especially because we have to deliver customers a luxury lifestyle that is nothing less than the best,” he says.
S Raheja Realty works in four verticals: redevelopment, affordable housing, corporate development, and second homes.
Ram feels redevelopment has great potential and is the only future in a dense city like Mumbai, where most of the prime real estate has already been developed. With people’s aspirations for good quality real estate growing, he believes affordable housing will be a great opportunity for S Raheja in the years to come.
“When it comes to corporate development, we develop BTS (built to suit) projects for enterprises. We take on everything, from architectural and municipal planning to the execution and timely delivery,” Ram explains.
“Our second homes vertical is positioned around developing real estate around the most scenic locations; the projects are ideal for vacation homes, farmhouses and retirement homes. They are a secure investment option as they give us a steady stream of rental revenue.”
Ram does not disclose the company’s revenue, but says its latest project is selling in the range of Rs 55,000 to Rs 65,000 per square foot.
“We have two exciting projects under construction - Z16 and NewLight. Z16 is a single tower, which houses two and three BHK apartments in the prime location of 16th Road in Bandra West. We have recently opened sales. NewLight in Khar/Santacruz West is a redevelopment project; the Raheja Brothers originally built this in the early 1960s. Today, it is one of the largest and most prime developments in this neighbourhood. We will be launching sales post lockdown,” he says.
The coronavirus impact
S Raheja claims to be using digital platforms in its operations to keep teams and departments connected. It is also building its social media presence to connect with existing and potential customers.
“Social media is the future of marketing, as social distancing will continue to be the norm for a while even post-lockdown,” he says.
While Ram may be thinking of business in the post-coronavirus era, he remains cognisant of the fact that even before the coronavirus pandemic, India’s real estate market was going through a rough patch due to rising NPAs in construction finance, high leverage, tight liquidity, etc.
In addition to these woes, the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown have adversely impacted the real estate market in India and left developers with a few years’ worth of unsold inventory.
Despite an impending price correction and the perennial policy-driven challenges real estate developers in Mumbai face, S Raheja’s overall vision to address the luxury real estate market will remain the same.
In the near future, Ram and his team intend to continue focusing on Mumbai and “set a statement for quality lifestyle.”
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)