The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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London company in Bengal real estate

Calcutta, May 7: A UK com- pany is taking the lead role in two housing projects near Calcutta, setting the stage for fresh foreign direct investment in Bengal real estate after the Salim Group’s initiative.

REIT Asset Management, a London-based company that manages real estate assets valued at over $6.8 billion globally, will partner a local developer to build nearly 5,000 flats on the northern and southern fringes of the city.

The project in Bonhooghly, opposite the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), will involve redevelopment of a refugee colony. Around 800 families living there now will be given a flat each, free of cost.

The southern project at Maheshtala will be a fully commercial venture but the developers have promised to build a sports-cum-cultural centre for the municipality.

The cumulative project cost is an estimated Rs 465 crore. The two projects will be developed over two to four years.

David Cohen, the chairman of REIT Property Management India, told The Telegraph the projects are the beginning of what he believes will be “a long-standing relationship with the state and the city”.

“We are attracted by the opportunities in the state and look forward to be involved in more,” Cohen, who is now in France, said.

The company had set up office in India two years ago, but has invested only in one project in Pune so far.

“We are choosy. We looked at some 140 offers and selected three — two being in Calcutta,” Cohen said.

REIT will hold a majority stake in both projects with local partner Eden Realty Ventures, promoted by NRI businessman Indrajit De. “We are delighted to work with a global investor like REIT in Bengal,” De said from New York.

Both projects will have active participation from government departments. The Bonhooghly project will be a public-private partnership with the Refugee Relief and Rehabilitation Department of Bengal, while the Maheshtala Municipality will partner the other project.

In Bonhooghly, structures built in the ’50s to accommodate refugees will be pulled down. The displaced families will be given the flats in two years. Till then, each family will be given Rs 1,000 a month for temporary accommodation.

Of the 18 acres in Bonhooghly, 6 acres are earmarked for rehabilitation. The rest of the land will have 25 buildings, including 16 G+15 towers. Prices are expected to be in the range of Rs 10-22 lakh.

The Maheshtala project will have 44 buildings, including 30 G+15 towers, mostly for the middle-income group.

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