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Sep, 01 2006

Realty giants in holy city

Amritsar is a city of businessman and the service class. The city is famous for its historical buildings, Guru Nanak Dev University, and medical colleges. Every year the students and visitors traffic to the city is high

Target customers

Amritsar is a city of businessman and the service class. The city is famous for its historical buildings, Guru Nanak Dev University, and medical colleges. Every year the students and visitors traffic to the city is high. People here love to live life to its fullest and savour different cuisines. One of the best examples to drive home the point is the Crystal Restaurants at Crystal Chowk, which is so crowded in the evenings that getting a table for dinner requires a long wait. Youngsters, aged between 10 to 25 years, make up 60 per cent of the population and are very much conscious about style and brands. They are, therefore, the target customers for these malls, which will house many brands. The service and business class are also waiting eagerly for these malls to be completed so that they can experience international brands in their own city.

Amritsar as an investor's paradise

Another factor, which is likely to spur real estate buying, is the opening of trade with Pakistan. As per the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) reached between SAARC nations, trade between India and Pakistan would open this year. With bonhomie in Indo-Pak relations, a large number of investors are showing keen interest in Amritsar, expecting it to emerge as a major trading centre after the opening of border trade in the near future. Under SAFTA, trade is likely to increase between the two countries manifolds, with the implementation of customs duty cut with effect from July 1. Expecting appreciation in residential and commercial property rates, a large number of big players are queuing up to invest in this area. After the announcement of the DLF Group to invest over Rs 1,000 crore in the special economic zone (SEZ), other groups have also announced the developing of malls and commercial complexes in this town, besides residential complexes. Says Col R S Sodhi, (retd), MD, Alpha G: Corp, "Improved neighbourly relations have succeeded in bringing a boom for the real estate market in Amritsar. Developers are anticipating the customer base to increase which would include visitors from across the border up to Lahore." Alpha G: Corp has plans to invest Rs 700 crore in Amritsar to set up a hotel and other projects. Adds Sodhi, "The initial investment for this mega-project would be Rs 270 crore in Phase-1. The project will be a destination centre encompassing retail, entertainment, luxury hotel and standalone boutique hotel under the brand name 'Ista' from the Anand group of hotels, which alone will entail an investment of over Rs 100 crore. The project will be spread over 25 acres on the GT Road and will be the largest city centre development in Amritsar that will cater to the new and old city."

On the selection of this town for development, he says, "The large SEZ planned by the state through private-public partnership is a motivating factor. Simultaneously, with major metros becoming saturated with mall developments, a virgin market like Amritsar is the new attraction for developers." The government's decision to develop Amritsar airport as an international airport has also influenced the property rates near Wagah border. On the other side of the border, the property rates have also gone up substantially, up to Lahore, and good business is expected in the coming days.

The author is a lecturer in management at Doraha Institute of Management & Technology, Ludhiana, and has undertaken various projects in his area of specialisation.

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