Bottom Line: Amidst a number of housing projects along the backwaters of Kochi, Marina One promises to elevate the aspiration quotient of waterfront apartment in this part of the world. Ravi Sinha reviews the promising project.
The quest for sea facing apartment is nevertheless unlike the aspirations of Richie Rich to have an apartment or villa at the peak of mountains, as second home. Most of the coastal houses in India are closer to the city centers.
But wait! Even though a substantially large share of sea facing apartments is not meant to be second homes or for the retirees, they are actually priced possessions beyond the aspirations of an average homebuyer. Such is the demand for these apartments, mostly luxury and ultra luxury properties, that a sea facing apartment today is the signature statement of being super rich.
It is in this backdrop that the project Marina One at the Marine Drive, Kochi draws my attention in the first place. Kerala, after all, is known for its backwaters. A riverfront apartment therefore prima facie gives the impression of one of the many projects sprawling across the backwaters.
The fact that the project could claim to have elements of luxury only means there is also an additional oomph factor at exorbitant cost; something that the developers in many other cities have been over-doing.
Having said this, the entry ticket size of Marina One property, that is just INR 2.5 crore, gives the impression as if this is definitely not a luxury property that is sea facing.
A comparative chart clearly shows how any sea facing property in Mumbai would command the entry ticket of no less than INR 40 crore. Is Marina One a mere value for money project? A closer look at the project, its marketing strategy, and the demography of the city suggests even though it is an exclusive property, it isnot meant for the super rich only.
The project will comprise 12 towers and a total of 1141 luxury apartments which is quite a sizeable inventory from Kochi’s demand standpoint. The project will have two, three and four-bedroomsuper luxury apartments with the size of the apartment units ranging from 2482.65 sq. ft. to 3710.67 sq. ft.
The property has to offer a 497-metre waterfront and a 5-acre urban park. The first phase of the project is expected to be complete by 2021. In recent past a number of national level developers have failed in the city due to regulatory challenges like the CRZ norms.
I had my apprehensions with this project as well, since both the JV (Joint Venture) partners of the project, Sobha & Puravankara, have their heavy concentration in Bangalore market. However, after reviewing the CRZ norms of the region, I realized this could indeed be music to the ears of any prospective buyer that this project does not come under the CRZ norms.
The fact that the project is a JV of Sobha and Puravankara, and Sobha today stands at the leading name in the luxury housing segment, makes me curious about the project. The track record of Puravankara over the years has equally been impressive.
As I reach the Marine Drive, Kochi, a travel of one hour from the Cochin International Airport, the serene ambience of the place is soothing like a cool breeze. As a matter of fact, strolling along the Marine Drive the sea view in this part of the world is so captivating that it could attract anyone who can afford a house over here.
In a housing market where every other project elevation appears to be the copy & paste of one or the other project, Marina One to its credit is different in its conceptualization. The architect deserves applause for the fact that every other apartment could fetch the premium. Reason: the project has been designed like the ‘C’ letter that could make every apartment a water front apartment.
The project claims to have not just one or two but no less than 350 USPs or the differentiators. As a matter of fact, an experience center has been set up at the project site itself for showcasing the grandeur of the project, once it is delivered.
In terms of the physical infrastructure of the region, Kochi has witnessed significant infrastructure development in the recent past. In fact, it is the only city in Kerala with Metro connectivity, fueling the real estate market in the region. Marina One is located in the heart of the city along Marine Drive, one of the premium areas in the city.
The project has access to healthcare, education, recreational and other necessary facilities. The upcoming Grand Hyatt Hotel and the LuLu Convention Center, which are just 1 km away, will further boost the prominence of the location.
There is no denying that Marina One is a promising project. But it also appears to be a highly ambitious project, even from the tried & tested standards of the two developers. If only the promises translate into performance and the project is executed the way it has been conceptualized, then this will be a landmark project in this part of the world.
In terms of the competitive advantage, Marina One has in its neighbourhood tough competition with Prestige Neptune Courtyard and Tata Tritvam. However, while there is not much price difference between the projects, Marina One has better amenities, like much bigger club house of 46, 000 sq. feet for instance that will also have 50-meter lap pool.
With some smart pricing and overall marketing strategy, Marina One could be a case study. If the project fails somewhere, it is in creating a buzz in the collective consciousness; something that many projects with lesser credentials and higher price point have done in the past.
I feel the developer should have been little smarter in its market positioning. Some more smart marketing packaging, say for instance an IPO style of sales to evoke sensation, could have created a kind of buzz that this otherwise slow moving city has not been witness to.
Kochi has a sizeable NRI population spread over the globe in general, and the gulf region is particular. The local Malayalam community is generally home sick and prefers to invest in the hometown. The price point won’t be a deterrent for the expat Indians.
Track2Realty rates this project with ‘A’ category. However, this rating could be further upgraded, subject to the promise turning into performance as the construction cycle advances. There are, of course, execution risks involved with such ambitious and futuristic housing projects.