Structuring a better future

Real estate

Structuring a better future

With a dip in the availability of land in Bangalore,  builders are now looking at redevelopment of old properties to sustain growth in the City. Prashanth G N analyses how the old structures have given way to the new


Bangalore’s horizontal growth cannot be endless. Some time or the other, the availability of land around the city centre and suburban areas will come to a halt. Physically, there would no more land within the city’s limits for real estate to grow. One way of circumventing the limitations of horizontal growth is to develop land hosting old properties around city centre and suburbs. The old properties will have to be demolished to make way for new ones.

This has been happening at a fairly fast pace in mainstream areas of the city and will intensify in the coming days, as there are plenty properties in Bangalore which are old, desolate and in need of reformation.

Out with the old

Builders in the city have many old properties on watch and with the help of agents track when the properties will be up for sale. There are several prominent old properties which have gone down and which now host modern, new buildings. M G Road’s twin theaters, Blue Moon and Blue Diamond fell by the way side making way for a shopping complex.

The Thomas Cook building on M G Road has gone down and a commercial complex has come up on that piece of land. The well known tea shop on Brigade Road, Kohinoor has made way for brand outlets. Then the Feroze Estate on Cunningham Road is looking at large office spaces. The Jayanagar Shopping Complex theatre is likely to be replaced by a new theatre. Many old houses in Jayanagar have been demolished and brand outlets have come up on the land. Barton Centre on M G Road came up in place of a smaller building, so has the G K Vale outlet.

Then the famous Lakeview Building was demolished for the new one, which now continues to house the ice cream outlet and a big home decor outlet. Moreover, an old building also made way for a major jewellery outlet on M G Road. The old Cash Pharmacy has given way to a new building on Residency Road.

While these are some of the commercial spaces that have undergone transformation, residential spaces too have witnessed some changes. The most telling example in recent times has been the construction of a brand outlet on the land and property of the elderly Rangan couple, bang on the main road leading to the Jayanagar 4th block bus-stop. (Y S Rangan was a retired deputy accountant general, who lived with his wife Vasantha Rangan). Likewise, there are scores of properties, which are 40 to 50 years old in 4th T Block, that are in line for demolition.

In all likelihood, new apartment projects may come up on these small pieces of land. According to builders, while Benson Town and Malleswaram have land measuring one acre and more, the properties built on them are small. There are some large patches of land available in both areas. In fact apartment culture in the city began with the first few apartment complexes in Malleswaram. To this day, there are plots that can be sourced for new buildings in these areas.

Many hurdles

Developers also say that a lot of government plots are available for construction. They hope government would ease restrictions on parting with the land. There are plots with very old government buildings, most of which are decades old, awaiting demolition. Developers are clear that they wouldn’t suggest heritage buildings for development, but will consider old houses, commercial set-ups and government buildings that are not heritage. But this requires the approval of the state government and private individuals. The entire cantonment area from Frazer Town to Cooke Town and Benson Road have many old properties, which are likely to face the axe sooner or later.

It is common knowledge that buildings have a particular life span after which they have to be brought down. The time span may extend on average from 30 years to 100 years. Bangalore is home to properties older than 50 years, both most of which are residential and a few commercial. Most of these structures are in areas including old Malleswaram, Benson Town, Cantonment, Jayanagar and early phases of J P Nagar, Chikpet-Majestic, interior Gandhi Bazaar, and Basavanagudi.

A trend that has picked up over the last few years is joint development of land — between a builder and an owner. If the owner’s property is old, and if families don’t have the money and resources to demolish and rebuild, builders are approached to develop the property. The piece of land will be jointly owned by the builder and the owner. If apartments are built on the land, in addition to ownership of land, the owner may be given additional apartments other than the one in which the owner and family would live. The co-development model has been quite popular among families with senior citizens. With children abroad, aging parents would be in no state to undertake property development. Builders bail them out after a bargain has been worked out.

An indicator of how much land is available for new property development is in the encroachment of 50,000 acres in Bangalore as per government investigation. Builders would love it if this is made available, but will have to see whether the government will legalise the encroachments through the Akrama-Sakrama regularisation scheme. The 50,000 acres is just a tip of the iceberg. If the entire residential space of Bangalore is investigated, large scale encroachments would come to light. Understandably, the lands encroached would have to be large or contiguous to be developed. 

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