--By Angila Sharma
Babu Raja Maharjan
Classic Developers (CD) has resumed its first ever project in the housing sector after a halt of around two years. The project ‘Classic Tower-Phase 1’ is currently being constructed and will require another 12 months to complete. After its completion, the CD has plans to start the construction of another tower that will be called ‘Classic Tower-Phase 2’.
CD has an amazing history. The group’s owners are from a totally different business—jewellery. They have set landmark in the jewellery business of Nepal through ‘Classic Diamonds’. Along with the flourishing diamond business, the owners set foot in this different sector and believe that they will be equally successful in this sector too. “People should not always stick to one business. In this world of uncertainty, it is necessary to have plan B to cover up plan A,” says Babu Raja Maharjan, Chairman of the group.
‘Classic Tower-Phase 1’ consists of four blocks and is named A, B, C and D respectively. While the D block is presently in the handover process, other blocks are under construction. Commenting on the factors that led to the long pause in the construction of these towers, Maharjan pointed to the unstable business environment in the country and to the frequent changes in government policies that triggered the downfall of the housing sector.
Apartments these days have been waiving off the charges for various facilities that the apartment and house owners had to pay when owning such facilities. For this, they charge the customers with some additional amount in the beginning and use the same money to meet the needs in the future. Classic Developers has also decided to follow this practice. “The additional money will be deposited in the bank and the interest received will be used for the welfare of the apartment holders,” Maharjan says, “But this amount is not sufficient to finance the luxurious facilities that we will provide. So we will charge small amount every month.” Though apartment owners in the valley are charged between Rs 8,000-10,000 every month, in normal circumstances, CD will be charging only Rs 4,800 per month.
Maharjan claims that the tower is different from other apartments in terms of safety and security. They have invested a lot in the security of apartments and made it sure that the quality of the construction materials used in the tower are the best standards. “We have been involved in this project from the very beginning and have been monitoring every aspect of the construction. For this, we have even visited the labs and factories for reviewing the quality of the cement, steel rods and other construction materials used,” he informed.
Maharjan points out that none of the industries are prospering in Nepal at this time because of unstable politics and rigid policies. “Nepal’s income is based on remittance and this remittance is used by people to buy land and build a home for them in the valley,” he said. “But, it is very difficult for them to fulfil this need in the valley. The only alternative to this is apartments. Analysing the trend, I believe that this sector is safe and carries a huge potential”.
Challenges and Problems
The tower’s construction began four years ago and is yet to fully complete. CD blames frequent changes in the government policies and unstable national politics as factors behind the delay. “Since we knew very little about this sector, we had to solely depend on government policies,” Maharjan said adding that the policies and regulations in this sector are full of loopholes and developer-unfriendly. He states that time for construction of apartments in Nepal reaches about 10 years. In the beginning, the developers need two years time to look for suitable land. Then, the time to gain approval for construction takes about five to six years. After this, the environment impact assessment (EIA) takes three and half years. Following this, the procedures for requiring permission from Department of Urban Development takes another half year. A builder can begin construction only after all these procedures are completed. Such policies are time consuming and discouraging. As a result, many builders start construction head on, and follow the procedures side by side.
Maharjan explains that the group does not have any plans, other than the Classic Tower Phase-2 project, as the group is solely focused on completing the present project. The second phase will begin as soon as the first phase is completed and said that the group will apply the knowledge gained in this project in the second phase project.
Classic Tower is spread over 200 thousand square feet. Out of 128 units, 89 units have been already booked. A single apartment with two bedrooms costs Rs 4.9 million.