Established in 1969, the Marathon Group is known for setting several benchmarks in the real estate sector. With a product bouquet across residential and commercial projects, they are a realty group with a strong conscience.
The group is led by Mr. Ramniklal Shah, Founder and Chairman along with Mr. Chetan R Shah, Vice-Chairman, Marathon Group and Mr. Mayur R Shah, Managing Director, Marathon Group. The dynamic Mr Mayur Shah speaks about how they have established themselves in Mumbai as a company giving quality homes and offices at reasonable prices.
They have always had the edge in terms of being ahead of the curve. The inspiration of picking up mill land in Lower Parel, when some mills were still functioning, and turning this location into the favoured residential and office destination that it is today was way back in 1999. The timelines involved with solving all the stakeholders' problems and demands then stood them in good stead later, when other mill owners approached them to redevelop their land. Mayur Shah says, "It is an unimaginably long and trying job, but patience is the key. Most of the stakeholders had returned to their native villages, and we had to recall them just to hand over the compensation! After seven years of the mill having closed, it was a mammoth task."
When asked about the contentious issues mill land redevelopment has raised, he says, "It has been decided by the Supreme Court…but I would also like to point out that this land is not 'free' - in the sense the costs attached to it are inherent, and all these are being paid eventually by the common man! For instance, the owner has most often mortgaged it to a bank and has to pay off all these liens on it - and the bank has regular people's money in it. Workers are in any case not getting paid and yet they are compensated. In fact once it becomes functional again it can provide employment to so many people in its new avatar, rather than being just a graveyard of buildings and aspirations. If you want gardens then take up non-productive land which doesn't have all these costs attached." Among the projects done using the model are: Piramal Spinning and Weaving mill - Marathon Nextgen, Jay Bharat Oil mill - Marathon Heights and Mafatlal mills.
Talking of expertise, he says, "We use the same sophisticated techniques like MIVAN for our upscale project in Lower Parel and for the small 350 square feet homes in Marathon Nagari in Badlapur. The amenities might change, but never our commitment to good buildings. I would consider it a national waste if any building we made didn't last the test of time." One could not expect less from a civil engineer from University of Bombay and MS in structural engineering from Oklahoma State University, USA. The zero-defect performance of all Marathon projects is due in large part to this attitude toward perfection.
They have a wonderful rapport with their customers, both past and present as seen by the tremendous response to their recent project of Marathon Monte Vista. Even at the height of the downturn they were sold out for a 36-month delivery project, solely due to the goodwill in the market. They are currently building a 40-storey premium residential project in Mulund on customer demand - that 2% who don't wish to shift location but have the money for a better lifestyle.”
Mayur Shah says, "Our CSR commitment is clear; every year we will build houses for the lowest strata of society. We have built homes for the earthquake affected in Latur and later in Gujarat. 650 tenements in Kanjur Marg on freehold land that could have been used for other purposes, but we want to use our special expertise for the betterment of the country wherever possible. Marathon Nagari at Badlapur started from the same premise and then began to take on a life of its own…with other developers jumping on the bandwagon. And in this way, Badlapur is another location that we have created - within 1 ½ hour of commute from Mumbai, with all major infrastructure in place."
Creating a location seems to be a huge soft skill, and developing it well the hard one. This is what he desires of the government also, to give a thrust to infrastructure in those places that can help relive the pressure on linear Mumbai. He emphasizes the importance of developing peripheral areas like the Panvel to Pune belt, Kalyan - Dombivili and Vasai - Virar. The master plan for these areas should look after the large grid connectivity, which is beyond the scope of individual developers. The last mile connectivity to individual projects in far-off locations is a major concern, for instance, water, electricity and roads. This will ensure that the poor from slums in central Mumbai wont mind shifting to outside/cheaper locations if they can still get to work easily. Also if they get larger homes at the same price as a slum dwelling, the incentive to move would be higher.
Within Mumbai, augmentation of the existing infrastructure is a must as well as removal of bottlenecks related to land and approvals.
With the Marathon Group increasing value for customers and in terms of square feet, they are now looking at expanding their portfolio to include the western suburbs. According to Mr Shah, the MMR region is like 10 different cities, and the work for developers is cut out. Also with affordable housing the need of the times, his definition includes homes that sell for anything between 8 to 50 lakhs, depending on location.
( via - Times of India )