Sunday, January 29, 2017

Redevelopment of Trust!





“I believe if you keep your faith, you keep your trust, you keep the right attitude, if you're grateful, you'll see God open up new doors”… Joel Osteen.

Joel Scott Osteen is an American preacher and televangelist. He is the Senior Pastor of Lakewood Church, in Houston, Texas. Osteen's televised sermons are seen by over 7 million viewers weekly and over 20 million monthly in over 100 countries. And one might wonder why I used quote by a Pastor when the subject is redevelopment, well let me tell you the very base of any redevelopment is trust! The story started when some five years (in late 2011) back one of my x collogue’s Swati approached me for redevelopment of their society in Patwardhan Baug , an elite area of Western Pune. I wasn’t having any experience of redevelopment then, so I was a bit reluctant at first but she insisted that I should at least have a meeting with the members of the said society, Shreeyash! So I accepted to meet the members & that’s how my journey of redevelopment started!

In next month on some weekend most of the members out of twelve units of Shreeyash came to meet me, they were mostly retired people from LIC, average age nearing seventy & in first meeting only I told them that they remembered me my parents which are of nearly same age group. After speaking with them I clearly put forward that whatever may happens, these people have come with trust in me & if I fail to stand to their trust then I don’t deserve to be in the business of real estate as they will lost trust in any businessman itself! I went through the details they gave to me about the existing building& assured them I will get back with my offer! Back then with TDR  (transfer of Development Rights, which makes base for any redevelopment) rates souring & average flat’s selling rate not all time high like it went later in 2013, I still worked out a fair offer which was barely matching to their existing area but a new building & with parking lot as well lifts & all modern amenities. As the present structure was ground plus two storied, so all the members had to park the cars on road outside the society. Also as there was no lift to the existing buildings so most of the members had to face climbing stair case issue which is a troublesome thing for that age, even it may be first floor occupant! Then, there was no attached terrace or balcony to any of the flat leave apart drying balcony type provisions. Another hurdle was the society had combined property card (ownership document) with two adjoining bungalow unit holders name also on it as co-owner. And on top of it one of the bungalows FSI has been used in this building by the then developer adding it to lots of friction between that bungalow owner & Shreeyash. So it was obvious that those bungalow owners will be hard to cooperate which was important as without their sign the proposal won’t move at PMC sanction level. I studied carefully all these & tried to explain this to the members. One more problem was every time all the members used to come & when it’s a joint meeting often the discussion used to go off-track! I told them to formulate committee of three senior members & they only will coordinate to ease out the things at society front. And the after this committee understood the hurdle about ownership which needed to be sort out first we worked out the offer. I gave them offer in writing asked them to go through with all members along with the new plan & meet again with their comments on it. I won’t bore you with finer details of what went after that as there was series of demands especially about the specifications & they wanted security that I will complete the project, which was bit annoying for me but yes their concern too was important! I asked them to appoint their lawyer but at the same time told them two lawyers will never agree upon one draft, so it’s you & me only who has to finally say yes or no to some agreement draft!

This was the toughest face & I had to keep my calm to face some of weirdest questions like why solar water heating can’t be individual when I was saying it has to be common, for best results & many such. This sure was a patience test for me & at sometimes I even used to think why I have accepted this project! But then the innocence in the questions of the members was genuine & so were their faces & I used to tell myself, think you are dealing with your parents! So after a marathon series of discussions finally the plans, the specifications & the agreement draft was finalized. This has taken nearly six months & the new DP i.e. development plan of PMC came in the meant time. That gave a big blow to entire process as the road in front of the society has been widened by nearly 10’ on either side, which means less plot area to build as well loss of TDR potential as TDR is worked out on the net plot area. That meant two things, first we will have to change the building plans & second I will have to look at viability in first place, as any redevelopment proposal is worked out on TDR utilization only. Obviously there was loss of salable area for me so I put it clearly in front of the members as well another hurdle was design the new plans right from beginning. After new plans sketches we came to know that now height of building is getting increased to accommodate the FSI available as plot area has been reduced so the floor plate also got reduced. Another hurdle was the neighboring bungalow owners weren’t ready to accept road widening & the plans needed to be signed by them also. Then till we convinced the bungalow owners about road widening &  nobody can do anything about it another blow came via one circular,  Urban Dev or PMC put hold on use of TDR on plot area below 10,000sft. This mean end of Shreeyash redevelopment as our plot area was 8000sft & no TDR means no additional built-up area will be allowed than that of existing area & then what I will sale & how I will build the existing building? Again I took the meeting of all the members & told them what has happened & it required me lots of patience & communication skill to explain them outcome of all these policies! As I had to look at their gloomy faces which were silently like asking me, considering our age, can we ever see our new home coming in existence? I had no courage to meet those eyes yet I tried my best them to assure them, that all will be well, soon. One silver lining was there was lots of pressure on UD as well on Hon CM who heads UD for such illogical circular about use of TDR & CM has said that he will rethink about this policy. But then in this country our rulers speaks something; thinks something different & does something else in practice; all three things are like apex of a triangle which rarely meets. My problem was all together different now as I have bought the required TDR by paying full payment & that burden was mounting on me as well I have promised my sister that I will make a flat for her there at top floor, so she has sold her existing flat in nearby vicinity! Once again I cursed myself for touching redevelopment but then what gave me strength is trust of all the senior members of Shreeyash & I told myself as well to them also, this is something you have dreamt for years & even the existing Shreeyash is outcome of your hard earned money & let’s hope something good only will come out of it! So we decided to wait instead winding out the project as well I also kept patience & hold the TDR certificate instead utilizing it somewhere else or selling it in the market!

Frankly by knowing the way our Govt systems works I knew it might take years to get any positive outcome on front of policies but only hope was the illogical way of putting plot size restriction on redevelopment as well the new DP was in making by virtue of which paid FSI would be available. Another aspect was its not just Shreeyash, entire redevelopments proposals of Pune were at stake as most societies are below 10000sft of plot area. So one fine morning the good news came that plot size restriction has been removed for utilizing TDR & in very same week we got our plans sanctioned from PMC! Though the road widening continued but we have changed the plans accordingly & finally we had something to cheer up. Immediately we took meeting of all members appealing them to vacate the building & shift as early as possible. Yes in the meetings only I have promised them to help in shifting. Here will share a small funny incidence; before shifting one senior member asked can he keep the MS grills of his enclosed balconies as he has made that expenditure pretty recently. Before I could reply something another member intercepted & told that he tried to take down ceiling fans in his flat before shifting & to his surprise the electrician charged Rs 200 per fan for removal & the fan isn’t fetching the price of even Rs 100 in resale, so he has to just give away those ceiling fans to the electrician! After this sharing nobody wanted to retain anything from the flat & agreed upon vacating the premise earliest. One thing I did which they realized the importance later, I insisted all of them to gather with families & had one group snap in-front of the building! We also made a group of my concerned team members as well all the Shreeyash members whats-ap group so any issue can be immediately posted on this group & acted up on.

So finally all families shifted & we started demolition of the building by doing a small pooja at site. Before starting demolition we informed to all the neighbors & requested them to keep some patience for the disturbance the demolition work would cause, mainly noise as well dust. We used lots of water to sprinkle on the demolition work so as the dust generation is less & in the bhumipooja function one of the neighbors who himself was civil engineer does mentioned this & thanked us for minimizing the disturbance to them. In fifteen days time the building was demolished & we arranged bhumipooja & that too in the hands of senior most member of Shreeyash as whom else could have been the better choice for such event! So a journey of nearly five years got now really in motion though it’s just start of the work & I hope now the ship of Shreeyash will sail smoothly with every bodies good wishes. Yes one more thing on the brouture as well on invitation of bhumipooja even I used the very snap of all Shreeyash members with Shreeyash old building in background & this gesture has been very much appreciated not just by the members but even those whom we have sent the invites. I think this is something I will like to share for all those who want to get in redevelopment, as a builder as well as members of existing societies!

It’s the smallest of such things like group photograph & whats-ap group, which matters most as redevelopment is not about just building new project but it’s about building trusts & trust has to be from both sides! The members should choose wisely the developer in first place & let’s remember best offer may not be the one which gives you more area for your existing one or best amenities or better package; but the best offer is the commitment towards the development the developer assures & the respect he gives to the trust you put in his team! Also some tips for the developers; the developer should give the offer which is viable, keeping in mind all the hurdles ahead such as changing policies to market scene as every day game of real estate is changing. Just lucrative location & costly specifications is not the thing now which customer looks for. At the same time major hurdle is polices which keeps on changing & can affect the entire viability, so don’t walk on tight rope just to get the deal at any cost! Study bye-laws & rules well & then only work out projects viability. Buy all the required TDR in advance to full potential as well do ask the members to shift from the existing building only after the plans get sanctioned as per final drawings! This will avoid any bitter experience of change in policy which may hamper the project as well awkward situation causing losses. Because it’s the developer who has to bare the rental charges of accommodation of the members till the possession of new building!. Also take members in confidence & be always transparent as well available to them. Remember it’s not just one deal but entire societies trust on real estate is what at stake when we are in redevelopment! In my entire journey of redevelopment I learnt a lot about human psychology & values & I think that was best outcome of the entire effort. No wonder when my marketing team asked me what should be the tag line of Shreeyash on brouture, the only thing came to my mind was, “Redevelopment of Trust!”

Below is my small speech at bhumipoojan ceremony of Shreeyash, do go through.




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Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=1415&v=blgni8HSfDU


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