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Old November 25 2007, 12:01 PM   #1
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Imagine living in the sprawling apartment of a posh building with a panoramic view of the city, and not having to pay a paisa towards its upkeep. Or, even better, actually getting paid to live there.

From Cuffe Parade to Juhu, a handful of cash-rich housing societies have become islands of prosperity in a sea of penurious ones which scrimp, save and beg their members to contribute towards the renovation of their decrepit buildings.

Real estate sources peg the exclusive Jolly Maker Apartments 1 at Cuffe Parade, comprising two 25-storey residential towers with about 180 flats and ten bungalows, as the richest housing society in India. It has a reserve fund and a sinking fund estimated at Rs 25-30 crore.

Just a stone’s throw away, the A and B wings of Maker Towers sit on society funds of more than Rs 10 crore, while the upscale Anand Kamal housing society and the 24-storeyed Usha Kiran at Carmichael Road also make the big league.

Residents of Jolly Maker 1, who include several head honchos of private and public sector institutions, occupy flats ranging from 1,285 to 2,590 sq ft and enjoy a slew of benefits.

None of them have to pay the monthly outgoings, which include a range of municipal taxes, because the society clears all the bills. Each member is charged a token one paise per sq ft per month — while the residents of other buildings in Cuffe Parade cough up Rs 3 to 4 per sq ft.

‘‘In fact, this cash-rich society pays every flat-owner a yearly dividend of Rs 100 for every sq ft he or she occupies,’’ said a Jolly Maker resident. So, for someone occupying a 2,500 sq ft flat, the dividend is a cool Rs 2.5 lakhs a year.

Incidentally, the 10,000 sq mtr property includes a health club, a swimming pool and a restaurant, now shut down due to lack of patronage. The complex also has a Sahakari Bhandar store, exclusively for the use of residents, who can buy their groceries at cheaper rates.

And what is the secret of this prosperity? The society owns six floors in the Nariman Bhavan building at Nariman Point which have been leased out to various companies. These fetch about Rs 48 lakhs a month.

The builder had offered this property as a package to buyers if they agreed to pay about 40 per cent more for their flats. ‘‘At that time, we paid Rs 100 a sq ft for our flats instead of the prevailing rate of about Rs 60,’’ said a resident about that decision, taken about three decades ago.

The A and B wings of Maker Towers may not be in the same league as Jolly Maker 1 — but the society recently spent Rs 1 crore on upgrading its lifts without asking members to contribute a paisa. It will also spend Rs 75 lakhs on painting the buildings after the monsoon.

In another area of south Mumbai, in the upmarket enclave of Carmichael Road, the Anand Kamal cooperative housing society owns one of the most exclusive residential properties in the city. The seven-storeyed Kamal Mahal and the adjacent Anand building are both situated on a two-acre plot with a landscaped garden.

The society has fixed deposits of about Rs 4 crore and pays the outgoings and maintenance charges of about Rs 27 lakhs instead of the flat-owners doing so.

These riches are thanks to the fact that about ten years ago, the building got permission to construct an additional floor atop Kamal Mahal and to sell three flats.

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