Two and a half years ago Lodha Developers announced the world's tallest residential building with over 117 stories in Worli. Lodha said its World One tower at a height of 450 meters would dwarf global landmarks like the Empire State Building in New York and the Q1 in Gold Coast Australia. This tower will house 290 apartments, 64 villas with private pools and 17 mansions on its topmost floor with interiors by Casa Armani.
"We are working with some of the best brains across the globe, so things are coming along quite well", Abhishek Lodha, Managing Director of Lodha Developers told CNBC-TV18.
Below is the edited transcript of his interview to CNBC-TV18
Q: Is the company living up to its sky high promises and are buyers buying into that dream?
A: Sales at World One have now crossed 60 percent. The tower is now up close to the 20th floor. Things are progressing well. We have done a huge amount of construction, very technically challenging construction. We are working with some of the best brains across the globe and ACC Simplex which is the Middle East based construction company is doing the construction of World One. So, things are coming along quite well.
Q: How much are you selling units for at World One? Are prices as sky high as the tower?
A: Units today start off at about Rs 11 crore and they go all the way over Rs 70 crore now. Current prices are in the range of about Rs 40,000 a square feet.
Q: You said you have completed 20 stories, by when do you anticipate completing this project?
A: We have estimated that we would be completing the project towards the middle to late 2015. People will start moving in during that period or early 2016 and we are reasonably on track on that.
Q: One of your selling points has been Armani Casa's involvement with the World One. What all is Armani Casa doing and has Giorgio Armani himself designed anything for you? How exactly is this working out?
A: He has been very personally involved in this project. He got into the nitty-gritty of every element of the design. They are doing all the interiors including the units, the common areas etc.
So, it has been a great process interacting with a master like him. He understands from his team how to take the finest European design, marry it with Indian needs and Indian traditions and get that level of finesse in execution.
That is something that they are very demanding about. We have worked very hard to ensure that the same quality that they would get in Milan is delivered in Mumbai.
Q: You said Casa Armani is doing units, but how is this working out? Are they designing a sample flat and then buyers can decide what they want?
A: Armani Casa is doing the interiors for each of the units. They do all the interiors which are the floors, ceilings, walls, bathrooms and kitchens. Everything comes finished as a standard part of the package.
They offer customization by having different furniture and furnishing options inside the unit. Some of the buyers of the larger units, the world mansions and the world villas have the opportunity to fly down to Milan. They stay there for three days, interact with the Armani Casa team and get some specialized elements customized for their individual units.
Q: Your business is mainly in Mumbai. Do you have any plans of venturing to new geographies or becoming a pan India player?
A: Mumbai keeps our hands pretty full at this point in time. We have about three projects in Hyderabad and a large one in Pune. That is pretty much on our plate for the next 12 months. Obviously, we keep evaluating opportunities, but nothing certain beyond what we are doing in Mumbai at this time.
Q: You did consider an Initial Public Offering (IPO) few years ago. Markets are now back almost at their all-time highs. Is Lodha Developers once again looking at a listing?
A: Not at the current time. We are as a company throwing off a lot of surplus cash flow. Our challenge is to make sure it is reinvested correctly. So, no listing plans immediately.