Real Estate

Missing cog in the realty machine

V. S. Sridhar | Updated on April 12, 2013

A high-rise in Kelambakkam, OMR.


Known is the fact that Chennai's suburbs are transforming into the new city centres, but are social infrastructure and residential development keeping up?

The past few years’ development has changed the urban landscape across India. Chennai is no exception. The city has witnessed profound changes in its urban development with suburbanisation following the pattern of developed countries. Changes in consumer demand, increasing private automobiles, diffusion of social infrastructure, and desire for quality life have led to the decentralisation of urban geography.

Young professionals seek the city life but not the price tag; this along with government and business investment has led to the development and increased popularity of the outskirts, like Old Mahabalipuram Road and East Coast Road in the south, Oragadam and GST Corridor in the south-west, and Ambattur in the north-west.

These outskirts have changed dramatically in the last 5-10 years with the advent of dedicated IT and multi-product SEZs, integrated townships and better connectivity to the city centre. In the next three years, these areas in the South will contribute close to 63 per cent of the new residential units and the North-West about 28 per cent. .

However, not all is well with our rapidly developing outskirts.

OMR– The IT Corridor

Among Chennai’s fastest growing suburbs, the road has witnessed large scale commercial development since 2005-06. Offices of many prominent IT and ITES companies including Cognizant, HCL and Infosys have come up there. It also has good supply of residential units through integrated townships by developers like Hiranandani, DLF and Embassy. The suburb is also in close proximity to East Coast Road, home to many of the city’s expatriate and up-market communities.

Despite this robust commercial and residential development, which is end-user driven, , the suburb is in danger of losing its growth potential primarily due to lack of social infrastructure, especially retail and entertainment avenues. With Phoenix Mall in Velachery being the only option in the vicinity (another is under construction currently), the area is not geared up to meet the social needs of its current and future residents.

Oragadam and GST Corridor

Known as the biggest automobile hub in South Asia, this is one of the fastest growing suburbs of Chennai and is evolving into a multi-faceted industrial zone. Oragadam is home to automobile giants such as Daimler, Renault-Nissan, Toyota, Komatsu and Apollo Tyres, as well as Nokia SEZ. The suburb connects the two key arterial corridors of GST and Bangalore Highway. The GST Corridor has three IT SEZ Parks and a 1,500-acre multi-product SEZ by Mahindra Group occupied by companies like Tech Mahindra, Infosys, BMW, Wipro, Capgemini and Renault Nissan.

However, these suburbs are bogged down by the lack of high-grade residential space, retail and shopping avenues and quality hotels to accommodate the affluent and an increasing number of business visitors. The lack of quality social infrastructure is again a dampener in the growth prospects of these localities.


Located in the north-west of the city and in close proximity to the up-market Anna Nagar, this old manufacturing hub is transitioning into an ITES destination with well-known names like Royal Bank of Scotland and ICICI Bank having their back-end operations setup here.

Yet, consistent with the development flaws of other growing suburbs of the city, Ambattur has also witnessed a linear pattern of commercial development, followed by residential stock and then by social infrastructure growth; as opposed to overall development.

The Learning

The perception that “Chennaites seek value for money” is no longer valid since the city’s youth are brand conscious, like to lead a comfortable life and do not mind spending money on entertainment.

Accommodating the housing needs of a progressive city calls for more satellite townships that are self-sustained and offer good social infrastructure.

Also, the Chinese model of creating new towns as industrialisation expands and developing all required infrastructure for such towns concurrently will hold the key for the country’s development, especially with regard to metro cities like Chennai, where the population density is on the rise.

For the Future

The continued urbanisation and the growth of the economy at a healthy rate will be the main drivers of the real estate sector in the city. Besides the existing factors such as peripheral development, easing land acquisition regulations and changing lifestyles, the new drivers of growth in the coming years are likely to be:

Proposed green-field international airport in Sriperumbudur

Multi-modal logistics hub in Oragadam

Further development of the automotive and auto ancillary sector

Timely completion of the metro rail work which is currently in progress

Wrapping up a number of proposed infrastructure projects including six-laning and a signal-free corridor on OMR

Improved power supply in the city and the state

(The Author is Associate Director & City Head, Chennai, DTZ-India)

Published on April 12, 2013

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