“Since its establishment in the sixties, Marathon Group has set several benchmarks in real estate sector besides developing more than 70 projects with a built-up area of over 2 million sqft. Its ongoing projects, worth over $1 billion, are likely to create over 8 million sqft in Mumbai alone in the next few years. The company has developed Highrise residences, Corporate offices, IT parks, Retail, Townships and SEZs and always emphasizes on green construction for increasing the efficiency of resource use-energy, water and materials while reducing building impacts on human health and environment,” says Mr. Mayur Shah, Managing Director, Marathon Group, in an interview with Maria R.
Could you please tell us something about Marathon Group, its business models, journey and milestones so far to our readers?
Established in 1969, the Marathon Group is known for setting several benchmarks in the real estate sector. It was the first private sector entity who introduced the concept of modern town planning in its projects in the year 1922; and it was also the first developer to build a helipad atop its 25 storey Marathon Heights project at Worli in 1996.
The Group is also known for pioneering the concept of low-risk, high-return land bank concept in India. Using the tried and tested model, the Group has successfully developed mill land properties after resolving complex labour and asset reconstruction issues in Mumbai; some of such projects are: Piramal Spinning and Weaving mill - Marathon Nextgen, Jay Bharat Oil mill - Marathon Heights, Mafatlal mills, and Khatau Mills.
As a group, Marathon always emphasises on green buildings which is an outcome of a design philosophy which focuses on increasing the efficiency of resource use — energy, water, and materials — while reducing building impacts on human health and the environment during the building's lifecycle, through better siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and removal. Ever since the Marathon Group came into existence, it has been standing strong on the following six pillars of success:
- Finding the right land that ensures appreciation
- Conceptualising each project in master planning to derive maximum benefit by making optimum use of available land
- Creating an ideal product design by taking advantage of the location as well as identifying the prospective customers aspirations
- Construction innovations that deliver outstanding structures
- Evolving a well-informed marketing strategy to enhance customer awareness and aid decision-making with the help of value added services like finance, interiors, and others after sales services
- Thorough maintenance of structures that nurture relationship.
With regard to the environment, you are renowned for constructing sustainable structures; do you believe that the developers should hold this issue in a very significant way?
There has been a great awareness about the green building concept in India in the recent past. As a responsible developer, Marathon Group also supports the green constructions. Certainly, Sustainability is the need of the hour. Green buildings may be costly as compared to conventional structures, the savings on recurring expenses like water, energy, and other resources can be substantial over a period of time.
We have constructed Marathon Futurex - an eco-friendly Financial cum IT center, which is LEED India's Gold Pre-Certified Green Building. This unique 'Green Building' project is expected to bring down its energy consumption by about 20%. Following the eco-friendly construction norms, we have used materials such as recycled products which come from rapidly renewable resources. Fly ash and micro silica has been used in the construction; low volatile paints have also been used in the building. The provisions of water harvesting have also been made. Interestingly, it is the first time that specialized Low E- Glass has been used in any Indian real estate project so far.
How do you view the growth in real estate sector in tier II and III cities. What are your plans to extend your business in these cities?
Several surveys have been conducted and we all are aware of the fact that Tier II and Tier III cities are witnessing enormous amount of development in every sector, across the country. The growth of Indian economy coupled with rapid infrastructural development has further boosted such a demand for housing in these cities, which is likely to augment further. Marathon Group has been constructing multiple projects beyond Mumbai in locations such as Badlapur, Thane and Panvel. We are also planning to come up with residential projects in Dombivali, which will be one of the fastest growing suburbs in MMR (Mumbai Metropolitan Region) in the future.
How do you see demand scenario in the residential and commercial sectors in 2012 and onward?
Year 2012 definitely looks more productive and progressive in comparison to 2011 for the residential and commercial sectors, both. The demand, inspite of all the situations, will not fall. Both the authorities at the government and the developers at large are trying to work together towards transparency in the real estate sector. We are sure that these efforts would not go waste for the growth of real estate sector in the current year. We are hopeful of softening of interests by banks and positive approach by the state and central government towards the real estate sector, which has been contributing lion's share in the country's economy.
What is your take on the effect of inflation on residential and commercial space market? What strategies have you made to counter it?
Marathon has always been a focused Group and has always had an innovative approach towards every segment of construction business. We understand the fluctuation in the rates of property is a natural phenomenon which will go up. Therefore, we practice an innovative model, and use more of technology- driven methods/modes of construction. With the use of technologies such as MIVAN, PERI table and STEN, we not only reduce the time, cost of construction, but also improve on the quality of the structures. By such methods, we make an attempt to keep a check on price rises. Also, we select the prime locations for constructions, which gives the buyers an added advantage. Besides, with the quality, amenities and facilities we provide, our customers enjoy the value appreciation of the properties.
What is your view on the proposed real estate regulator?
The government's decisions to set up a Housing Regulatory Authority though sound as a pro consumer move but poor implementation like ULC may serve against creating large stock of affordable housing. We are only concerned about the over regulations in the real estate that should not create a license regime in the pretext of disclosures and encourage corrupt practices. Already developers in their individual capacity are making every effort towards the transparency. MCHI the apex body of the developers across Mumbai Metropolitan Region has already set up a dispute redressal and consumer redressal forums to protect the interest of home buyers. Currently, the developers had to go through 40-50 layers, the proposed real estate regulator or authority should not add another layer hurdle in development process. I am of the opinion that the Govt. must remove land and approvals related hurdles for speedy development. The thrust innew policies for creating ample supply of housing stock will bring more benefits to consumers then a regulator. For example, per minute mobile call cost was Rs.16.5 just 8 years ago, but now it is 50 paise, through competitive environment better services and cost emerged in mobile telephone.
What about Marathon Group's expansion strategies?
We have presence in commercial and residential constructions section. So far as the location is considered, we have projects in Mumbai and across the MMR region - such as- Lower Parel, Mulund, Thane, Badlapur and Panvel.
Our presence is in Mill land development, affordable housing, hi-end luxury housing and mid- range housing as well. We are also planning to work towards redevelopment of slums and several dilapidated structures. Besides, considering the trend and availability of options, we are open to joint developments.
Please brief us about your current and upcoming projects?
Our current projects are Marathon Monte Vista - Phase II (Mulund), Marathon Nexzone, Marathon Nagari-NX, and Marathon Futurex (Lower Parel).
Marathon Monte Vista - Phase II (Mulund): a high end luxurious residential project in Mulund west, is an efficiently planned multi-storied highrise residential tower, with 2 BHK, 3/4 BHK and combination apartments above 22 floors. The project is situated in a prime suburban location in Mulund West, and is well connected by roads and rails.
The project is conceptualized by U.S. qualified technocrats with most advanced Aluminium shuttering MIVAN technology. Among other features of the construction, the project has taken care of minimum wastage in order to utilize maximum space, ample light and ventilation with an excellent view.
Marathon Nexzone, a strategically located, thoughtfully planned township project, is spread across 26 acres of land. The mixed - use township development is uniquely master-planned and divided into Residential zones and Commercial-cum-Retail zone. The township is well-equipped with ample car parking space. The apartments are designed to use optimum area with lots of light, ventilation, breathtaking scenic views of hills.
Marathon Nagari-NX, a town- ship in Badlapur East is coming up approximately on six acres of land with 20 minutes of walking distance from Badlapur Station. The unique housing project, located far away from pollution and with natural beauty and serenity, comprises over 500 apartments with 1&2 BHK in the budget of Rs.15 lakh to Rs.20 lakh.
While the project is catering to the growing need of housing at Badlapur, it is also an opportunity for the home buyers in Mumbai to acquire a second home at an environment-friendly location.
Marathon Futurex (Lower Parel) is one of the tallest and eco-friendly financial-cum-IT centres in country's commercial capital Mumbai situated at Lower Parel. The project has also bagged LEED India precertification for Core & Shell Gold rating by the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC). The group has completed the first phase of an ambitious commercial project 'Marathon Futurex'. The sample office is ready with the phase - I of the project for fit-outs.