COIMBATORE: Every evening Shyam Veluswami and his friends play an hour of badminton in the indoor court situated on the first floor of the marble, wood and glass three storey club house in Shobha Harishree residential community. Very often, as he walks out, he waves a hello to his mother who takes an evening walk with two of her friends on the walking track provided around the community or just sits down for a chat on one of the benches provided along the roads.
In a city hurtling to a breathless state, thanks to an unprecedented increase in the number of vehicles and traffic congestion, open spaces that allow cycling, swimming and other recreational activities have become a premium attraction in residential complexes.
Not surprisingly, real estate developers have made it a point to throw in tracks, landscaped stretches, play areas for children and fully loaded club houses in their projects as an added attraction. The shift of most residential development towards the city's outskirts has also made it possible for developers to offer these features as large tracts of land are available for constructing clusters of residential buildings.
Quite a few developers have created facilities to use bicycles within the residential complexes for fitness or for local commute. They have also provided basketball courts, tennis courts, gymnasiums and even cards rooms in club houses. "We have to provide 10% of the project's space to create open space reserves. So we use that space to provide gardens, parking and landscaping," says C S Ramaswamy, managing director, Sreevatsa Real Estates.
The township complex Mayflower Sakthi Garden on Nanjundapuram Road for example offers a range of facilities like a mini-football court, basketball court, tennis court and a home theatre. "Our aim is to ensure that residents coming from work, college or school do not have to step outside the compound for entertainment or recreation," says Mayflower Enterprises' managing director V Mohan. "Provision of such facilities also helps us raise our rates per sq ft because it becomes a premium property," he says.
However, such recreational spaces come at a price. "The maintenance costs of such facilities could be very high," says Ramesh Bafna, vice-president of CREDAI, Tamil Nadu and managing director of Mount Housing properties. "We usually provide such facilities in projects that accommodate 50 to 60 apartments or more because then maintenance becomes viable and facilities remain in good condition," he says. Most premium properties see a maintenance cost of around Rs5,000 per month. "It should ideally be Rs2 per sq ft in large projects. The same facilities if provided in an apartment of 24 units or so, it could go up to Rs4 to Rs5 per sq ft per month," he says.