Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Elite schools catalyse real estate boom in Chennai


For almost three years, the one bedroom house S Suha has taken on rent in Royapettah, a kilometer away from a private school in Gopalapuram, has remained locked. She pays the monthly rent of `Rs 10,000 because she has to show an address to keep her child in a school in Gopalapuram. For many parents like Suha, getting their children into kindergarten in a good school means moving house—or renting one to show the address. As a rule, most schools admit only students who live within three to five kilometers from the school. The real estate value and rentals of a locality goes up when there is a school of repute. Schools say they give preference to people in the neighbourhood because children don’t have to commute long distances. “It makes it easy for the child. Travelling more than 5km would mean starting very early in the morning. At a young age, this is avoidable,” says Revathi Sridharan, a retired school principal.

Suha says her child travels 18km to and from the school, though she retains the neighbourhood house. “But we don’t mind that because there aren’t many good schools in our neighbourhood, and we can’t move since we have our extended family here,” she says.

Academicians and schools say they aren’t totally ignorant of such unoccupied addresses. “This only shows that parents attach great importance to certain schools. Yet when we come to know that primary school children live very far, we tell parents that they will have to move closer or take a transfer,” said a headmistress of a big school. That’s what techies Sabitha D and Devrajan S did. The couple sold their 2,500sqft independent house in Villivakkam to move into a multi-storied apartment on OMR. “The building housed an upcoming school,” says Sabitha.

While open space, greenery and health clubs continue to be inevitable ingredients of their spiel, a reputed school in the vicinity often seals the deal with prospective buyers. For instance, when CeeDeeYes proposed the Chennai Pattinam project in Tiruporur, they built in the concept of ‘walk to school’ by tying up with the DAV Group of Schools. “Many were keen to invest because of the branded school. From 2,500 houses, we expect to have at least 1,500 students. The school will give priority to residents of the building,” said CeeDeeYes CMD C Devadasa Sundaram.

Six years ago, when the Shree Niketan Group of Schools set up their matriculation school in Tiruvallur, the neihgbourhood didn’t have much to boast of. Now there are two banks, a supermarket and a leading apparel showroom. In 2006, the real estate price was Rs 200 per square feet here, says school correspondent P Vishnucharan. “Now the going rate is Rs 2,800 per sqft. When I made the decision to purchase seven grounds three years ago for Rs 1,200 a sqft, I felt I was getting a bad deal. Now it is worth more than double,” he adds. The school strength has also grown from 340 children in 2006 to 2,600 now.

Source: The Times of India, Chennai

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