In its recent analysis on luxury homes in Bangalore, real estate consultant Jones Lang La Salle estimated that there are 1,100 homes in the city that fall in the “super luxury” segment — those with a price tag of Rs 5 crore and more. The cream of these are the apartments in and around the city centre, known as the Central Business District (CBD), akin to Colaba in Mumbai or Connaught Place, Delhi. But for those who feel a plum location alone does not guarantee exclusivity, there is the option of buying a penthouse. To be sure, a penthouse in the heart of Bangalore, where buildings are typically 10 to 12 storeys, and the floor area ratio is between 1.25 and 3.25, would not be quite the same as getting one in Mumbai, with its 50- and 60-storey buildings of over 200 metres height. While you may have to compromise on altitude, developers are adding other touches to the penthouses, from rooftop jacuzzis on private terraces to automated “smart homes”, for their high net-worth customers.
Each penthouse in the luxury residential project Nitesh Logos, by Bangalore-based listed company Nitesh Estates, for example, will have a lap pool and jacuzzi on a private terrace and a landscaped garden. And while you may not have a commanding view of the entire city since it’s a three-storey building, penthouse dwellers should be able to get a good look at the sailboats bobbing on Ulsoor Lake, barely half a kilometre away.
The entire complex will have 16 units, of which seven are duplex penthouses, of 3,570 sqft and 4,470 sqft. “Being just a stone’s throw from MG Road, the location is the biggest attraction, but there are also other features, such as a concierge service from Quintessentially available to our residents, and interiors by Singapore’s Warner Wong,” says Madhavi Gajria, assistant general manager for marketing at Nitesh, and the spokesperson for the project. The kitchens, says Gajria, will be done by Poggenpohl, the German modular kitchen-maker that had been in the news here when it unveiled its Rs 1-crore kitchen in collaboration with Porsche Design in 2009. The penthouses in the Logos complex, which Gajria reckons will take another 18 to 24 months to be complete, go up to Rs 16.5 crore for the largest.
People opting to buy such pricey properties tend to want a great deal of customisation. Total Environment, which is developing a luxury project with three penthouses off Lavelle Road in CBD, has taken this to heart. Titled Van Gogh’s Garden, after Colorado band Wind Machine’s eponymous composition, the three penthouses in the five-storey project have different dimensions and plans, and the client can customise the design with the help of the architect assigned to their unit.
The customisation extends to interiors and furniture, which the company manufactures and provides under the inhouse Quetzel brand — in beds itself, clients are given at least eight options, says Abby Abraham, assistant vice-president of sales. All the penthouses are on a single level, starting at 7,680 square feet and going up to 8,888 square feet. The largest penthouse has two terrace gardens, each with its wooden deck, and a price tag of Rs 26 crore. The penthouses in Van Gogh’s Garden might not have a pool, each will have a garden with water feature, and owners can choose from 15 options of landscaping, such as whether to have a garden with a fountain or a sandy one with a beach theme, says the company. The kitchens will be by Poggenpohl or the Italian Veneta Cucine.
These units are also “smart homes” with video phones, mood lighting, remote-controlled curtains and motion sensors; you don’t have to bother with switching on lights when you enter the bathroom, or open a cupboard, as a visit to the model apartment on the company premises reveals. There is a glass-break detector, which sends a message to your laptop or mobile if the glass breaks, says Abraham.
Brigade Group has given a different twist to its luxury project, Brigade Crescent, where the penthouse occupies the entire tenth floor of the complex. The project itself, situated on Nandidurga Road, has been conceived as one which offers one apartment per floor, thus limiting the number of units to ten. Each apartment, says Viswa Prathap Desu, vice-president of sales, has an extensive wooden deck which gives the feeling of a penthouse even on the other floors and the elevator opens into your private lobby. The 36-metre building has an infinity pool on the terrace and from the top floor, one gets sweeping views of the city which does not have too many tall buildings marring the panoramic view. The kitchen is by a German modular kitchen firm, Rempp, while the flooring is wood in the bedroom and Oman beach marble for the rest of the apartment. The penthouse here, covering 4,250 square feet, will set you back by over ~8 crore.
Such super luxury projects are typically the third or fourth home of the buyers, who would fall in the grade of CXOs and above or are major entrepreneurs, say Brigade executives. Nitesh Estates takes this one step further, by profiling their customers before the penthouse or luxury apartment is sold. “One can even say sales are by invitation, to an extent. Clients in this category are very conscious of who their neighbours are and so we can’t sell it to just anyone,” claims Gachria. Marketing in this segment is usually through the existing customer database and referrals as well as investment bankers and property consultants dealing with high net-worth customers. Developers typically hold on to penthouses and sell them at a later stage as they command a premium, but this is not a hard-and-fast rule. Four of the seven penthouses in Nitesh Logos have already been sold, as has the top floor of Brigade Crescent, though there are other units in the project yet to be sold.
The chief impediment to skyscrapers in Bangalore’s CBD, apart from the floor area ratio, is the shortage of suitable land, says Vijay Murugan, Jones Lang La Salle’s city lead for Bangalore. But this might be changing. “In Mumbai, they started knocking down buildings and building high-rises on those plots and that’s happening now in Bangalore, too,” he says. The 33-storey Kingfisher Towers being developed through a joint venture by the UB group, for instance, is coming up on what was once chairman Vijay Mallya’s family home. So while old-timers might feel a pang at their beloved Bangalore developing skyward, the city centre might yet get more penthouses with panoramic views.