“Cities must have iconic buildings and structures; this is key to a city’s uniqueness and character,” says Mohandas Saini, Managing Director and CEO of Shapoorji Pallonji International. Akin to how Manhattan is defined by the Empire State Building, Kuala Lumpur by the Petronas Towers and Dubai by the Burj Khalifa. Saini made these remarks on one of his periodic visits to Colombo to review Altair’s progress, scheduled to complete in end-2019.
Shapoorji Pallonji & Co. Ltd., regarded as one of India’s most valuable private companies with a legacy spanning over 150 years, is no stranger to such iconic construction projects. The company was the main contractor of the tallest residential development in India, the 60-story ‘Imperial Towers’ in Toledo Mumbai, completed in 2010. Other iconic projects by global construction giant include the palace of Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said of Oman, Park Towers Dubai, Taj International Hotel Mumbai and the Hilton Riyadh.
Altair, adjudged the best condo in Asia for architectural design at the 2018 Asia Property Awards, was designed by Moshe Safdie, a pre-eminent architect of our time. Safdie’s works can be found across the globe and have become revered regional and national landmarks, including Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, Jerusalem; Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Kansas City; United States Institute of Peace Headquarters, Washington DC; and Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort, Singapore.
The unique design of Altair incorporates a 63-story inclined tower connected to the 69-story vertical tower via a strong outrigger at the 39th level. At the height of 240m, the vertical tower is now the tallest residential building in Sri Lanka
The inclined tower utilises structural steel diagonal grids on the exterior of the building giving a permeable surface for expansive floor to ceiling windows as well as acting as a load bearing membrane, minimising the use of interior columns. According to Mohandas Saini, these unique design features led to a particularly complex project from a construction standpoint due to the high degree of precision work required to maintain uniformity that cannot be achieved through traditional fast-tracked methodologies that are commonplace now in high-rise construction in Sri Lanka. Despite the challenges, the superstructure construction work was carried out at a commendable speed with ‘one floor added almost every week’, notes the CEO.
Commenting on the outcome of the superstructure works Saini remarks, “The entire weight distribution was so well engineered, and the workmanship is of such good quality that the level of deviation from original specifications were substantially lower than allowable structural engineering tolerances.”
Structural engineers to this project have been Dubai based Predag Eror of Derby Design, and well known Sri Lankan structural engineer, Deepal Wickremesinghe. Structural elements of the building were independently verified by the University of Moratuwa.
The CEO also says that Shapoorji Pallonji has earned their global reputation not only for their expertise in construction, but for their enduring commitment for the projects they undertake. “We believe in long-term value-added relationships with all stakeholders, often investing our own money in projects we undertake, as we have done so in Altair.” The main shareholder of this $ 250 million project is Kolkata based South City Group, a consortium of firms which has collectively delivered over 150 real estate projects consisting of more than 15 million square feet.
Along with Altair, Shapoorji Pallonji is involved in four other projects in Sri Lanka, including an office building and a water supply project. The CEO remarked that his company is considering engaging in a public-private partnership with the Government with regards to another key project and are open for further investment opportunities in the country.
Speaking of his experience of working in Sri Lanka, Saini says that local engineers have excellent skills and expertise. However, the company had to resort to employing a large foreign workforce due to the shortage of skilled labourers and specialised technicians in the domestic market.March 22, 2019
– Association says ongoing projects should be exempt from VAT
– Welcomes 30% reduction of Cess but benefit marginal for projects nearing completion
The Condominium Developers Association of Sri Lanka (CDASL) is lobbying for ongoing projects to be granted an exemption from the newly introduced output Value Added Tax (VAT) on apartment sales.
Speaking to The Sunday Morning Business, CDASL Chairman Pradeep Moraes stated that many of the ongoing big projects in the country have neared the completion of construction work and imposing VAT on these apartments is unreasonable.
“Projects for which permits have been obtained already and work is ongoing should be exempt from output VAT as all their contracts and pricing has been based on previously existing tariffs. Each development will be affected in different degrees depending on how much they have spent on the project and how much inventory is left.”
Under the Budget 2019, 15% VAT has been imposed on apartment sales with effect from 1 April 2019.
“All the agreements that have been signed will continue to be exempt from output VAT. We have contracted with the clients also on the basis of certain conditions.”
Speaking further, he stated that providing a 30% cess reduction on imported construction material is most welcome but this would be of marginal benefit for developers who are nearing completion.
“Altair has spent more than 85% of the total project cost and there is 30% inventory to be sold. Therefore there is a disproportionate percentage of VAT that cannot be claimed and many other developers are in the same predicament,” said Moraes, who is also Director of Altair.
Meanwhile, speaking to The Sunday Morning Business, Sector Head of the Property Group at John Keells Holdings Nayana Mawilmada stated that even Cinnamon Life has completed most of its structural work and would therefore not benefit significantly from the cess reduction. 93% of construction work at Cinnamon Life has been completed while as at early March, 64% of its apartments were sold.
In another measure to offset the negative impact of the VAT impositions, the Budget 2019 also proposed the granting of residential visas for three years to foreign nationals who invest Rs. 70 million or more in condominiums. This process will be implemented this year. However, this residential visa will not be valid when the foreigner exits from this investment.
March 14, 2019
The growth of tourism and Sri Lanka’s probable emergence as the main commercial and financial centre between Singapore and Dubai with the rise of the Colombo Port City, augur well for the country’s condominium market, a business leader in the sector said recently.
Altair Director Pradeep Moraes told a Real Estate Investor Forum in the Maldives that in locations such as Phuket, where tourism is not solely resort-driven, it is an accepted fact that increased tourism is strongly linked to real estate development and the same applies to Sri Lanka.
Investment in real estate is also far less fickle and volatile than investments in other instruments such as stocks and bonds, and this was amply demonstrated when Sri Lanka experienced political instability a few months ago which led to a substantial flight of foreign capital invested in stocks and bonds but no known or seen impact on real estate holdings, Mr Moraes said, disclosing that this fact has been articulated to policymakers as a justification for greater support to the industry.
The Real Estate Investor Forum was hosted by Research Intelligence Unit (RIU) and had as its Chief Guest the Minister of Infrastructure of the Maldives, Hon. Mohamed Aslam. This was the second forum in the Maldives within the past three months at which Altair was a participant, following its presence at Maldives Living Expo 2019, which it supported both as an exhibitor and a co-sponsor.
Mr Moraes reiterated that Sri Lanka’s real estate sector has a demonstrated potential of generating over US $ 750 million per annum in foreign direct investment, and that condominium growth in particular is fuelled merely by aspirational lifestyle or upward mobility but by the very basic fundamental of need.
“Land banks are fast diminishing and high-rise condominiums can deliver 20 times more efficiency than conventional housing,” he said, pointing out that economies of scale render apartments more affordable than smaller-sized conventional dwellings, and the plethora of approvals required for construction can often lead to protracted delays in building individual houses.
Another factor in support of condominiums is that Colombo does not have the luxury of an urban spread as the already overloaded road network doesn’t allow for extended commutes, and even the proposed Light Rail would probably only play catch up, Mr Moraes said.
Sri Lanka’s most distinctive and instantly recognised high-rise, and already 70 per cent sold, Altair is a one-of-its-kind development in South Asia in terms of architectural design, structural engineering, and living experience. The building designed by celebrity architect Moshe Safdie comprises of two tower blocks, a 63-storey sloping tower which leans in to a taller, 68-storey vertical tower. Acknowledged as a new paradigm in contemporary living in Sri Lanka, the Altair building has already brought a new dimension in aesthetics to Colombo’s skyline and offers its 400 apartments spectacular views of the Beira Lake, the Indian Ocean and the city of Colombo.
Photo caption – (Left) Altair Director Pradeep Moraes addressing the RIU Real Estate Investor Forum in the Maldives, and the Altair team at the event.
Mr Pradeep Moraes in his capacity as the Chairman of the condominium developers association of Sri Lanka has issued a statement refuting the damaging Sunday Times article under Right of Reply. The letter in full is produced below.
21st February 2019
Mr. Feizal Samath
Editor- Sunday BusinessTimes
#8, Hunupitiya Road
We are compelled to request for the traditional right of reply to an article published in your newspaper last week which is malignant, misinformed and overwhelmingly incorrect and kindly request you to afford our reply equal prominence and positioning. We would also kindly request you to publish this rebuttal in its’ entirety.
This article quotes or misquotes (as the case may be) a gentlemen named as Mr. Ravi Abeysuriya said to be the Group Director of a Group called Candor.
We were shocked, angered and dismayed on reading through this article which was titled “Uncertainty in Sri Lankan Property Market” at the gross untruths, irrelevancies, insinuations and innuendoes which comprised almost the entire body of quotes attributed to him and rendered the article false, misleading and malicious in almost its entirety.
The tone of the article seems to seek to cause damage and wreak destruction on the Real Estate Industry.
The motives behind this unsubstantiated and untrue tirade we are unable to understand nor is it our business to try.
It may be an individual’s or company’s misguided belief, real or imagined grouse or vendetta. It could also be the belief that damaging one industry is the best means of propping up another or a case of complete ignorance combined with the presumption of knowledge.
It could also that Mr. Abeysuriya has been roundly misquoted in which case he joins all Real Estate stakeholders as being common victims of this article, and shares our empathy in the damage to reputation.
Let us do an elementary Fact Check.
Also the statement implies that other trades / industries are free from any payback difficulties.
Conversely if the 100% referred to is over a shorter period and the rate is “gradually decreasing” then the sector is still doing wonderfully well and where is the problem?
This type of colossal inexactitude would be hilarious if not relating to such a serious subject.
Anyone disbelieving our outright rejection of this colossal untruth can cite right to information and check the statistics at the Land Registry.
We respectfully submit to the Government and it advisors that a re-imposition of output VAT on apartment sales will not serve its intended purpose i.e increased tax revenue. It will shrink the sector to a size that yields far far less taxes than if allowed to grow to its natural, organic potential.
The industry has suffered over the last one and a half years or thereabouts as a result of ill-advised and perhaps irresponsible, and certainly baseless conjecture, surmise and speculation about its viability expressed by certain Govt., Public Service and Bank officials – again either quoted or misquoted within or without context.
This unfortunately fueled the typical Sri Lankan negativity and rumour mongering that sadly affected the momentum of the Real Estate Industry which was vibrant at the time.
The litmus test that the industry has passed though, the gauntlet that it has successfully run, is that despite the recriminations, and despite the prophets of doom, real estate in Sri Lanka has not succumbed to fear mongering.
The fundamentals of Sri Lanka condominia are extremely robust, and it has the demonstrated and proven capacity to (in very modest terms) generate at least $ 750 M / year in FDIs if even mildly supported to so do.
Overall we believe that it is way overdue for us to get together, within industries, and across industries, and promote Sri Lanka as a holistically appealing and viable commercial entity, because our equitable share of an expanded cake will be far bigger and far more wholesome than a slice we fight for at the cost of another.
Condominium Developers Association of Sri Lanka
From left: Altair Director Pradeep Moraes with Chief Guest Maldivian Minister of Housing Aminath Athifa and members of the Altair team that participated in the Maldives Living Expo 2019
Sixteen months after structural construction was completed, Sri Lanka’s showpiece high-rise Altair continues to be an attention-grabber in markets around the world with the latest being the Maldives, where the development was one of the biggest attractions at the country’s longest-running property show. The Maldives Living Expo 2019, which was supported by Altair both as an exhibitor and a co-sponsor, attracted more than 5,800 visitors interested in luxury living options in the archipelago and the region. In its seventh edition, the three-day exhibition focused on home and living lifestyle, offering visitors an opportunity to get more information about upcoming real estate properties, products, services and options available in the Maldives and neighbouring countries. The 30 exhibitors showcased properties ranging from the utmost luxury to affordable living and lifestyle options.
Sri Lanka’s most distinctive and instantly recognised high-rise, Altair is a one-of-its-kind development in South Asia in terms of architectural design, structural engineering, and living experience. The building comprises of two tower blocks, a 63-storey sloping tower which leans in to a taller 68-storey vertical tower. Acknowledged as a new paradigm in contemporary living in Sri Lanka, the Altair building has already brought a new dimension in aesthetics to Colombo’s skyline and offers its 400 apartments spectacular views of the Beira Lake, the Indian Ocean and the city of Colombo.November 16, 2018
Sri Lanka’s contemporary architectural masterpiece Altair has beaten condominium developments in 15 countries in Asia including Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, China and Australia, to win the ‘Best Condo Architectural Design Award’at the 2018 Asia Real Estate Summit (ARES) hosted by PropertyGuru Asia in Bangkok, Thailand.
The only Sri Lankan high-rise ever to be adjudged the best in Asia, Altair was honoured at PropertyGuru’s ‘Best of the Best’ awards, at which individual winners selected at country award events throughout the year, were contenders.
Markets from Sri Lanka to China competed at the largest Grand Final event to date of the 13 year old Asia Property Awards, attended by more than 500 guests, with developers from Japan and Australia making their debut at the ceremony. The countries that competed for awards were Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Mongolia, Australia, Japan, Philippines, Myanmar and Cambodia.
“We are justifiably elated at winning this award, which is a tribute to the architectural genius of Moshe Safdie and the vision and courage of the promoters of the project, who had confidence, not only in their ability to build Altair, but also in the market’s potential to do justice to such a remarkable edifice,” Mr Moraes commented. “The word icon is sadly overused today, but by winning this award we have emphatically shown why Altair richly deserves that adjective.’
Among the condominium developments that competed for the ‘BestCondo Architectural Desing in Asia award were ‘8St Thomas’by Bukit Sembawang Estates Limited, Singapore; ‘Alpha City’ by Alpha King, Vietnam; ‘Glorious Mansion’ by Long For Group Holdings Limited, China; ‘Mount Pavilia’ by New World Development Company Limited, Hong Kong; ‘Scenia.Bay’ by Nam Tien Lao Cai Jsc. Co,, Vietnam; ‘Sunplay The Heights Bangsaray’ by Sunplay Asia Limited, Thailand; ‘stirling Residences’ by LN Development (Stirling) Pte Ltd., Singapore; ‘Taman Anggrek Residences’by Agung Sedayu Group, lndonesia; ‘TheCUVEE’by Chaopraya Mahanakorn Public Company Limited, Thailand; ‘The Smith’ by Triniti Land, Indonesia and The Vales’by Anchorvale Residences Pte Ltd., Singapore.
Speaking at the awards event, Terry Blackburn, Managing Director, Asia Property Awards and Property Report of Property Guru noted that “Today, Asia has the fastest growing economies and most exciting real estate markets in the world, and the majority of award winners are Asian developers selling to Asian buyers and are helping millions achieve the dream of home ownership.” He also expressed the hope that the years the Asia Property Awards have spent promoting Sustainable Development, Green Buildings and Corporate Social Responsibility, have in some small way, contributed to the conversation on what the best Asia should look like in the future.
The region’s biggest and most prestigious real estate awards series, the PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards are recognised as the ultimate hallmark of industry excellence in the Asian property sector. Headquartered in Singapore, the PropertyGuru Group is Asia’s foremost online property company and has been voted ‘Asia’s Most lnfluential Brand for Online Property Search’by consumers. PropertyGuru helps over 16 million people find their dream home every month.
At the 2018 PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards in Colombo, a precursor to the Grand Finale in Bangkok, Altair took the major honours winning the Overall Award for ‘Best Condominium Development’and the awards for ‘Best Luxury Condo Development (Colombo)’and ‘Best Luxury Condo Architectural Design (Colombo)’while its only Sri Lankan Director Mr Pradeep Moraes was named ‘Real Estate Personality of the Year.’
Sri Lanka’s most distinctive and instantly recognised high-rise, Altair is a one-of-its-kind development in South Asia in terms of architectural design, structural engineering, and living experience. With structural construction completed and 70 per cent of its apartments sold, Altair is scheduled to commence the handing over of apartments to buyers in March 2019.
The building comprises of two tower blocks, a 63-storey sloping tower which leans in to a taller, 68- storey vertical tower. Acknowledged as a new paradigm in contemporary living in Sri Lanka, the Altair building has already brought a new dimension in aesthetics to Colombo’s skyline and offers its 400 apartments spectacular views of the Beira Lake, the Indian Ocean and the city of Colombo. The development’s 1.5 million square feet of high-end eco-friendly living space is supported by 40,000 square feet of up-market retail space.
October 18, 2018
August 2, 2018
Altair provides a helping hand to clean up the surrounding areas of the Beira Lake as a part of the No Kunu initiative focused on a cleaner Colombo.
August 2, 2018
Altair was awarded four prestigious awards at the recently concluded Asia Property awards (Sri Lanka) by Property Guru. The awards include ‘Best Luxury Condo Development (Colombo)’, ‘Best Luxury Condo Architectural Design’, ‘Best Condo Development (Sri Lanka)’. And Pradeep Moraes, Director, Indocean Developers of Altair was also awarded for the first time ever ‘Sri Lanka Real Estate Personality of the Year’.
July 10, 2018
The PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards (Sri Lanka) competition, which is being held for the very first time in Colombo on 12 July 2018, has chosen its first-ever Sri Lanka Real Estate Personality of the Year.
Pradeep Moraes, director at Indocean Developers – the company behind the twin tower Altair, designed by celebrated architect Moshe Safdie – has been selected to receive the prestigious honour by the editors of PropertyGuru Property Report magazine.
“We are recognising Pradeep Moraes’s contributions to raise standards in the local real estate sector as well as his work as chairman of the Condominium Developers Association of Sri Lanka,” the magazine said.
The career of Moraes spans more than four decades and covers a wide range of industries, including fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), aviation, advertising, automobiles, industrial marketing, communications and broadcasting, security, and property development.
After 10 years heading the sales and marketing division of John Keells Development, Moraes joined Indocean Developers (Pvt) Ltd as president of sales and marketing in 2013 and was appointed to the board as its sole Sri Lankan director two years later.
One of the biggest and most ambitious projects of his career is Altair, which has been conceptualised to be one of the tallest residential towers in Sri Lanka. The project is up for Best Luxury Condo Development (Colombo) and Best Luxury Condo Architectural Design at the 2018 PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards (Sri Lanka) competition.
Bringing Colombo to the forefront of global architectural excellence
“Euphoric is the best description of how I feel at being chosen as the first Sri Lankan to be bestowed with this award, more so in light of the exalted company of previous winners from the region,” Moraes said of his selection.
“I would like to dedicate this award to the promoters of Altair for giving me the opportunity and the exposure, and for bringing Colombo to the forefront of global architectural excellence with the iconic edifice that is Altair.”
Moraes believes that Sri Lankan real estate has witnessed “vibrant and sustainable growth,” propelled by consistent capital appreciation and rental yields, changing lifestyles of consumers, and confidence shown by foreign investors.
“I would go a step further and also dedicate my award to all the foreign developers, who, with their investments, declared and demonstrated their faith in Sri Lanka’s real estate industry,” he said.
Among elite company
The award puts Pradeep Moraes among the top leaders of the global real estate industry.
Previous winners of this elite award for the Asia Pacific region include former Philippine senate president Manny Villar of Vista Land Group, Thailand’s richest woman Supaluck Umpujh of The Mall Group, American-born Thai magnate William “Bill” E. Heinecke of Minor Hotels, British-Asian billionaire Gulu Lalvani, formerly of Royal Phuket Marina, Indonesian tycoon Candra Ciputra of PT Ciputra Development Tbk, Malaysian entrepreneur Dato’ Seri Abd Wahab Maskan of Sime Darby Property, Myanmar’s top businessman Serge Pun of SPA Group of Companies, Cambodian tycoon Rithy Sear of Worldbridge Cambodia, and Hong Kong’s Dr Allan Zeman, father of Lan Kwai Fong.
Using CSR to promote interracial and inter-religious amity
In addition to Moraes’s work at Altair, he has also pushed to promote corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the country.
Among Altair’s ongoing CSR projects include supporting Gangarama Temple initiatives and providing daily meals for the last four years now to 150 religious inmates and staff of the Little Sisters of the Poor (a home for the aged run by Catholic nuns catering to inmates of any religion). Altair also spearheaded the erection of a Hindu shrine in the heart of Colombo, on land belonging to a Buddhist temple, for interracial and inter-religious amity.
The Sri Lanka Real Estate Personality of the Year award will be presented by PropertyGuru’s chief operating officer Jeremy Williams during an exclusive, black-tie gala dinner on 12 July 2018 at the Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo ballroom. Sri Lanka’s Megapolis and Western Development Minister Champika Ranawaka has been confirmed to deliver the keynote address.
More than a dozen companies have been shortlisted for the industry’s highest honours to celebrate excellence in the vibrant Sri Lankan real estate sector. Around 300 guests and select members of the press are attending the historic ceremony.