Singhania home to tower over Antilia

It is unusual for the flamboyant page-3 favourite, who loves Formula One tracks and James Bond yachts, to keep his new-found obsession away from public glare for so long. His sky-kissing palatial house on the Bhulabhai Desai Road in posh south Mumbai, under construction for more than a year, has already touched 23 floors, and is still going up.

But Gautam Singhania, the man who sold contraceptives as aphrodisiac through his KamaSutra brand and expanded his textile business, would still want to believe that his pet project is as enigmatic as Antilia, Mukesh Ambani’s new billion-dollar, 27-storey palatial home, just a breeze away.

Which is why when contacted by Financial Chronicle, Raymond refused to provide details on the development.

“We would not be able to contribute to this story. This development at Raymond is in its premature stage, hence, we would not comment on this at the moment,” said the company in an email response.

On Tuesday, FC snooped into the compound where construction for ‘JK House’ is progressing briskly. They hope to complete the 36-storey skyscraper and its lavish interiors much before Dussehra, so that Singhanias can move in on the auspicious day.

For the uninitiated, Raymond Singhanias are also known as western Singhanias, mainly comprising Gautam and his father Vijaypat Singhania. The Delhi-based JK group is headed by Hari Shankar Singhania and Raghupati Singhania, known as eastern Singhanias.

According to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation officials, the tower is at present called JK House. They were not aware of plans, if any, to rename the building.

Singhania’s extended family, spread across Mumbai, is going to move into JK House, according to people close to the family. The new building will have five floors exclusively for car parking and one floor housing a museum, which will have Singhania's jade collection and that will be open to the public for 45 minutes a day. The Raymond showroom, at present situated in the adjacent plot, will move into the building once it is completed, and occupy two floors. Gautam Singhania’s present home is at Altamount Road.

“Singhania is constructing this apartment complex mainly for residential purpose. It will have 36 floors,” an industry official close to the development said.

Surprisingly, the rise of this mammoth structure has not drawn much attention so far. But people are now having to notice its soaring piers.

An employee from the Raymond showroom located right beside JK House, who did not wish to be named, said “Raymond’s showroom would be moved to the building during Dussehra. It would occupy two floors. We will vacate the leased Raymond showroom building”.

“Typically, the valuation in that area is in the range of Rs 45,000 to Rs 65,000 per sq ft. Older buildings were sold at Rs 45,000 per sq ft. Raymond’s building would be around Rs 65,000 per sq ft,” said Amit Goenka, national director, investments, Knight Frank.

Vijaypat Singhania, who took over the reins of Raymond in 1980, before transforming it into a modern industrial conglomerate, may move into the new building, people close to the family said. Gautam, the present chairman and managing director of Raymond, has been instrumental in restructuring the group. With the divestment of its non-core businesses, the group has emerged stronger.

Today, with a 33 million-metre capacity in wool and wool-blended fabrics, Raymond commands over 60 per cent of market share in worsted suiting in India, and ranks among the first three fully integrated manufacturers of worsted suiting in the world. The company claims to be the only one in the world to have a diverse product range of nearly 20,000 design and colours of suiting fabric.

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