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“Altair will define Colombo’s skyline”: Shapoorji Pallonji CEO

June 20, 2019

“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.

S & P CEO Mohandas Saini

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.

Taken from Daily FT

Altair reaffirms potential of Sri Lanka’s real estate sector at investor forum in Maldives

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.

Taken from Ada Derana Biz

 

Altair a top attraction at Maldives Living Expo 2019

February 26, 2019

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.

Taken from FT.lk

Development Progress – February 2019

February 11, 2019

 

While the painting of the Altair structure continues the fixation of glass windows also continues.

Visit of Japanese Investor Forum 12.10.18

October 18, 2018

 

Development Progress – September 2018

October 9, 2018

 

While the painting of the Altair structure continues the roof top sky garden and infinity pool is also taking shape .

 

Altair Residential Development Tops Out

February 2, 2018

 

Altair, the 69-story luxury residential complex which fronts Beira Lake in Colombo, celebrated its “topping out” to mark the completion of structural work. Going back to ancient times, the topping out ceremony marks the milestone of the placement of the last structural steel beam at the final roof height. This important moment also celebrates the accomplishment of the structural construction crews and the transition to interior construction.

Altair is composed of two slender tower blocks, with one block leaning into the other vertical tower, which supports it. The towers are oriented to the movement of the sun and to harness the tropical breezes, and the units offer 270-degree views of Beira Lake and the Indian Ocean. The unique diagrid structural system accentuates the slope of the inclined stepped tower.

“It is very exciting to see the completed building form tapering elegantly toward the sky. The unique combination of a straight and a sloping stepped tower gives the building a very distinctive appearance and has become a landmark for locals and tourists,” said Charu Kokate, who visits the site regularly. The diagrid structure is highly rationalized and allows for naturally ventilated and beautifully lit units. The units are very private and with their special entrances are like “little houses in the sky”.

A generous allocation of space for public areas, a feature of high-end buildings, is even more evident in this building. Of Altair’s 1.5 million square feet of space, 828,000 square feet or 55 per cent is residential space. Of the balance, 36,000 square feet is allocated for retail while 636,000 square feet, or 42.5 per cent is public space.

 

The 400-unit towers offer spectacular views of the Beira Lake, the Indian Ocean and the city of Colombo. The building is scheduled for completion in July 2018 and is already 70 per cent sold.

Taken from safdiearchitects.com

 

‘Luxury apartments boom not a bubble’!

March 27, 2017

Shangri La Group Vice Chairman Madhu Rao speaks at the recent Finance Asia organised Sri Lanka Investment Summit in Hong Kong. Others from left are Jones Lang LaSalle Sri Lanka Head of Transactions Sunil Subramanian, Indocean Developers Director Pradeep Moraes and CHEC Port City Colombo Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Liang Thow Ming

 

  • Altair says bulk of purchases equity based and mostly by Sri Lankans so far

  • Sri Lanka shows second-highest growth in Ultra Rich Community (above $ 30 m) as per global real estate consulting firm Knight Franks

  • Luxury apartments have offered capital gains of 12%-15% year-on-year while rental yields have been 6%-8% per annum but critics caution over too many units, pricing, affordability and yields

  • Annual Lankan market is 600 sold units

  • Positive ranking such as Colombo as fastest-growing city and most livable city in South Asia boosting demand

  • Port City targeting its planned 21,000 units for affluent South Asians

  • Says high net worth individuals in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh to double to 600,000 in 10 years

  • 2017 Budget moves such as foreigners allowed to buy from first residential floor and 5-year residency visa for apartment purchases above $ 300,000 to enhance industry prospects

The apparent boom in the luxury apartments market is not a bubble the industry claims, with future buildings pointing to great potential and investments despite some concerns.

The success so far and the optimistic future outlook of the Sri Lankan real estate market was shared among prospective investors in Hong Kong and Australia by leading promoters Indocean Developers (Altair) and the upcoming CHEC Port City Colombo as well as Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts’ The Residences at One Galle Face.

“There is no gearing or bubble to burst,” an emphatic Indocean Developers Director Pradeep Moraes told the Finance Asia-organised Sri Lanka Investor Summit in Hong Kong, followed by the Colombo Stock Exchange-organised Invest Sri Lanka conferences in Sydney and Melbourne.

“Ninety percent of luxury condominium purchases in Sri Lanka are equity-based,” Moraes added. According to him, at present 60% of the sales thus far are for domiciled Sri Lankans and a further 30% to Sri Lankan expatriates. He said factors driving domestic growth include changes in lifestyle, accessibility/convenience, relative affordability, traffic – reversed urban migration, security and difficulty in finding domestic help.  Furthermore, Sri Lanka has the second-highest growth in the Ultra Rich Community (above $ 30 million) as per global real estate consulting firm Knight Franks.

Another significant feature is the fact that the bulk of the investments for luxury apartment development has been from overseas. “The fact that buying has been largely from Sri Lankans and development has been from foreign parties, gives greater stability to the luxury condominium market. This is diametrically opposite to what has happened elsewhere such as Dubai,” Moraes added.

Indocean is investing over $ 250 million in 404-apartment complex Altair, in Colombo 2, comprising two tower blocks, one of 63 storeys, which leans onto a taller, 68-storey tower.

Shangri-La is investing $ 450 million on two residential towers of 51 floors containing 390 residential units and the company said half of the units have already been sold.

China’s CHEC is investing $ 1.4 billion to reclaim 269 hectares for the Port City project which will bring in a further $ 13 billion in investments for various projects including 21,000 apartments.

IN-1.224

From left: Indocean Developers Director Pradeep Moraes, CHEC Port City Colombo Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Liang Thow Ming and Shangri La Hotel Sri Lanka Head of Sales and Marketing (Residential) Neluka de Alwis speak at the Colombo Stock Exchange organised Invest Sri Lanka conferences in Sydney and Melbourne last week.

Given that 90% of the sales are driven by Sri Lankans, Moraes told the investment promotion events in Hong Kong and Australia “this shows only 10% has been bought by foreigners hence the great future upside in the market.”

CHEC Port City’s Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Liang Thow Ming, also speaking at Hong Kong and Australian investment promotion events, said that currently 600 luxury apartments were sold annually as per industry specialist Jones Lang LaSalle.

“When completed the Port City Colombo will add 21,000 units. We are largely looking at the India, Pakistan and Bangladesh markets which have a combined population of 1.7 billion. According to KPMG research, these countries have 300,000 High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) and this number is expected to double in 10 years,” Liang said. “This is why we are saying we are building a world-class city for South Asia,” he added.

Altair’s Moraes also said luxury condominia projects completed thus far such as Emperor, Empire, Monarch, 7th Sense, 110 Parliament and Fairmount have been sold out 100% while those under construction including Shangri-La, CCC, Cinnamon Life and Clear Point have had a near 50% absorption rate.

Speaking of Altair’s own sales status, he said in terms of units 66% have been sold and in terms of area it was 73%.

He also said construction was progressing well with the sloping tower nearing its 55th floor and the vertical tower close to its 60th floor.

The industry veteran told prospective investors and buyers in Hong Kong and Australia that Sri Lanka was the fastest-growing city as per the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index and the Most Livable City in South Asia.

Furthermore, 2017 Budget moves such as foreigners being entitled to purchase condominia on a freehold basis from the first floor onwards as opposed to the current rule of above the 4th residential floor, and a five-year resident visa for purchases of apartments over $ 300,000 were also highlighted along with hassle-free repatriation of capital and profits.

The industry’s optimism exists despite some expressing concern over a bubble on the belief that most purchases are funded by bank credit. Another concern is over the market being flooded by too many apartments, pricing and affordability as well as falling rental yields.

Chamber of Construction Industries CEO/Secretary General Nissanka Wijeratne was recently quoted as saying: “In real estate, I think we need to be a bit careful because there are currently 49 towers being built. I don’t know whether we have reached the bubble. For the ongoing ones, there’s demand. Most are sold out but we have to see whether there’s demand beyond that.”

Additionally, Candor Group Director Ravi Abeysuriya was also quoted as saying rental yields of luxury apartments, which have been experiencing downward pressure recently, will face further complications given the introduction of value added tax from April.

Perhaps alive to possible concerns even from foreign investors/buyers, Altair’s Moraes told the Hong Kong and Australian investor conferences that the industry has offered capital gains of 12%-15% year-on-year whilst rental yields have been 6%-8% per annum, suggesting at a peak level the returns had been over 20%.

For the full article visit FT.lk