After having proved its mettle in various cities across India, Paranjape Schemes has distinguished itself from its peers by venturing into an overseas project. Another characteristic feature of the company is its housing projects for senior citizens and now the company wants to enter uncharted territory with housing for special kids. Shashank Paranjape, Managing Director, Paranjape Schemes, tells CW about the company´s future plans and hopes from the new government.
The company recently celebrated 25 years. What would you list as your major milestones?
We began with just single buildings. When we took the step of increasing the number of buildings, it was a milestone for us. Launching the senior citizens´ project in 2001 was another milestone, a pioneer effort in India. The launch of townships in 2008 was another big step for Paranjape Schemes.
While designing apartments for senior citizens, what are the factors you consider?
A lot of senior citizens stay alone and find it difficult to survive in a busy city. We are trying to give them a dignified and hassle-free living. They might be frail or handicapped; keeping this in mind we design amenities and homes; we create benches in swimming pools, and windows, switches, door handles and doors are designed differently to suit them.
How did you conceive the senior citizens´ concept, Athashri?
Pune has seen a lot of migration owing to IT jobs and people are also migrating to developed countries. Thus, the situation is alarming in Pune; in every fifth house, seniors are staying alone. There are mobility and security issues that need to be addressed. As a developer, we should keep track of society´s needs. That´s why we came up with Athashri. It is not an old-age home but senior housing. This is our third generation into the business and a large number of people have faith in our company and the announcements we make. People believed in us and the first 50 customers who ventured into Athashri became our advocates. We benefited through word of mouth.
Moreover, you are planning a large township for senior citizens. What is the progress on this?
It is not a township but part of a large township. It will house over 1,000 senior citizens. Currently, we have started the initial phase, which consists of 250 tenements that are nearing completion. It will have its own parking area, auditorium, entertainment area and cafeterias. It will also have a small polyclinic and hospital.
You are also planning for speciality housing for special children. Tell us more.
We are working on this. The concept is evolving and interesting. Living is a major challenge in Indian society for autistic kids and their parents. These parents are harrowed by the thought of what will happen to their children after they are gone. We have tried to address such worries through this concept.
From which sector is maximum business generated?
Every sector has its own challenges. For hospitality, the gestation period is much more and it is capital-intensive; so is commercial property. Residential properties are very interesting in terms of management and maintenance. Overall, creating, marketing and maintenance are a huge challenge. It requires a dedicated team and you have to be passionate. As developers, we understand that we are in the service industry and only then can we end up doing a good job. The investment-to-return ratio in a residential project is quite interesting. The values of commercial buildings are also interesting. That said, about 80 per cent of our portfolio is residential.
You have also executed villa houses in Melbourne...
It was a small project and the idea behind it was to see whether, as a company, we could go outside India, procure and learn things. In your own city, you are rested. You have a steady flow of properties and everything is set. When you go outside, you are nobody, you get to polish yourself. It was a learning experience and everything in marketing and construction was professional.
Do you also plan to foray into the US market?
We are not really looking at the US market; we might do some scouting but nothing serious. We will look at it only in FY15-16.
How is Paranjape Schemes preparing to contribute towards the government´s ´Housing for All by 2022´?
It is a need and the numbers are interesting. Developers like us will look to provide affordable housing. We have recently launched an affordable housing scheme ranging from Rs 10-25 lakh in Pune. A lot of developers are not keen to go into that space. Even the affordability aspect varies from city to city. There is no clear definition for affordable housing. The public transport system has to be improved and that is not a developer´s cup of tea. The Government will have to come up with a strong development plan.
What are your expectations for the next fiscal?
People have now started venturing into the market; they feel it is a good time to look at properties. The last six months have been exceptionally good. At the policy level, the government will come up with good decisions like land permits, and hassles of plans and permits will be greatly reduced. That will help everyone in the construction world. Next fiscal, we will invest more in projects across India, especially Mumbai and Pune and Tier-III cities of Maharashtra, and other cities like Baroda, Coimbatore, etc.
Year of Establishment: September 1987
Top Management: Chairman - Shrikant Paranjape and Managing Director û Shashank Paranjape
No of Employees: 966 (Paranjape Schemes Group)
Areas of operation: Maharashtra, Karnataka and soon Gujarat (presence in eight cities)
Completed projects: 160
Ongoing projects: 38
Upcoming Projects: 15