: As the relaxation in floor space index (
is the ratio of land area to built-up area) and premium FSI – announced by the state government recently – sinks in slowly, old apartment complexes and housing board developments could gear up for redevelopment, potentially changing the skyline of Chennai.
In the years to come, many parts of the core city could see emergence of new vertical villages and disappearance of low-rise apartment complexes and independent houses. It could also reverse the trend of people moving out of the city in search of housing stock and attract a sizeable population into the developed parts of the city with better civic infrastructure. Redevelopment is a win-win proposition for both apartment owners and developers, said Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India (Credai) Chennai chapter vice-president S Sridharan.
“All over the world, governments find it difficult to fulfil increasing housing demand in cities. Prohibitively high land prices make living in cities unaffordable for a vast majority of people. The only way to bring down prices and make housing affordable to common man is by increasing FSI. The government has taken the right step,” said Credai Chennai president W S Habib.
End-users prefer high-rise buildings for better ventilation and lighting, more open space and landscaping, multi-level car parking, effective rain water harvesting, safety and organised amenities, said Habib.
All Tamil Nadu Housing Board properties lend themselves for redevelopment as they have underachieved FSI. Some are as low as 0.8 FSI, said Sridharan.
Apartment complexes promoted by private developers that are 25-30 years old and which are poorly maintained could also come up for redevelopment. In many cases, their capital values are abysmally low for their locality. Their apartment prices could more than double after redevelopment, said W Mathews, a real estate analyst.
The FSI benefits are more for MSB (multi-storeyed building) compliant plots. While the increase in FSI (including premium FSI) is around 0.8 in the case of low-rise buildings, it is 1.375 in the case of MSBs. For high-rise buildings constructed before 2009 (premium FSI was introduced), the increase in FSI is much higher at 2.375 and hence the owners, after redevelopment, can look forward to occupying bigger apartments with 25-35% extra space, depending on the location, said Mathews. Financially sound apartment owners and associations can do redevelopment on their own, but challenges are innumerable as clearances have to be obtained from more than a dozen agencies, he said.
Since a minimum area of 1,500 sq metres of land is a pre-requisite for developing a high-rise building, many smaller properties on arterial roads could also join adjoining high-rise structures for redevelopment.
“Redevelopment not only provides new buildings with better efficiency and larger space, it also provides safety from potential tremors and earthquakes. Chennai, which was earlier in the comfort zone II, was shifted to zone III in 2002, indicating higher seismic activity, after the 2001 Gujarat earth quake and another quake measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale was recorded off Puducherry. Not all old buildings in the city were designed to withstand such heightened seismic activity,” said Mathews.
Apart from bringing about a consensus among all the apartment owners, demolition of existing high-rise structures could be another challenge. “Technology provides solutions to most of these challenges. Most hurdles can be overcome if residents’ welfare associations engage market experts at the planning stage itself,” said Mathews.
In the case of redevelopment of plots on roads that are less than 60 feet wide, the increase in FSI is from 1.5 to 2. In such cases, premium FSI has been increased from 30% to 40%. In all, 2.8 FSI is permitted on such plots. The benefits of redevelopment will, however, be incremental for them taking into account the cost of redevelopment.
The government also needs to support redevelopment with better infrastructure like wide roads, better water supply, drainage, sewerage, uninterrupted power supply and public transport, said Habib.