KOLKATA: Leading city-based realtors like the Surekas, Mohtas of the Merlin Group and the South City consortium have put their real estate projects on either side of the Kona Expressway and National Highways 6 and 3 on fast track within days of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's announcement to move her seat of governance from Kolkata to Howrah temporarily.
Most of the real estate players ET spoke to felt that relocation of the Writers' Building to the 13-storey HRBC building in Howrah's Mandirtala, less than 100 metres from Vidyasagar Setu, from October 1 will increase traffic movement and floating catchment of the area significantly.
The shift will also give a fillip to roadside eating joints, fast food stalls as well as the transport business. Former Credai-Bengal president Pradeep Sureka agreed: "The CM's announcement to move her seat of governance to Howrah will not only increase traffic movement, but also improve infrastructure and draw public attention to the area. We plan to initiate work on our residential project shortly," said Sureka, who is also managing director of Sureka group.
City realtor Merlin Group also hopes to obtain the state government's approval for its proposed residential project soon. "The interest level for the area will go up once the government starts operating out of the HRBC building . If some of the departments continue to operate from there permanently, realty price of the area will appreciate positively," said Sushil Mohta, managing director of Merlin Group.
Mohta, however, ruled out any immediate price hike primarily because the relocation was temporary. "Besides, one must keep in mind that unlike shares, real estate prices do not react to news instantly," he pointed out. Industry players and intermediaries claim that flats in and around the area are fetching Rs 2,500 to Rs 4,000 per square feet (sq ft) depending on the location of the project and the facilities being offered.
Flats at Clubtown Riverdale, the upcoming residential project being developed by the Space Group, are being sold at Rs 6,000-plus per sq ft.
"We have already sold 60% of the flats. The announcement will boost inquires for flats," said Jitendra Khaitan, CMD, Pioneer Property. Howrah, industry sources claim, has a lot of potential. The demand for industrial plot is still very high in this part of the city.
"But once CM's secretariat starts working out of Howrah , infrastructure and connectivity will improve drastically and thus, make the area more habitable than what it is now. This, in turn, is expected to spur demand for residential complex in the near future and take off some of the load from Kolkata," a realtor said.
South City consortium and West Bengal Small Scale Industrial Development Corporation are busy developing an industrial park sprawled over 20 acres. The group has sold 60% of its total plot at Rs 4 crore per acre.
"The demand for built-up space will hopefully increase now. We might complete sale of the balance 40% within the next six months," the realtor added. Real estate consultant Lemongrass Advisors Managing Director Abhijit Das feels that although the area will witness a lot of activity, there will be only a marginal increase in property prices — both residential as well as commercial.
"Since the floating catchment for that area will go up, the transition will see mushrooming of new roadside eating joints in and around the area. Dalhousie's street food joints will get negatively impacted," he said. City mall owners too claim that the temporary shift is unlikely to have an impact on the footfalls, lease transactions or on the commercial price.
"Businessmen or company's top executives visiting state government offices are bound by the time and therefore, will have little or no inclination to visit malls. Office bearers may hop into malls for some need-based shopping, increasing footfalls only to that extent and not significantly," a mall owner said.