As the work of the first building gets underway, the SmartCity Kochi is receiving stupendous response from various parts of the world, according to the management.
“There are concrete inquiries. Many mega IT companies across the globe have shown interest in taking up more than 40 per cent of space in the first building,” SmartCity India Managing Director Baju George told ‘City Express’.
However, the formal announcements in this regard will be made only at the road show scheduled in Mumbai. The road show will be held in June in a bid to attract bankers and media. The company organised a road show in Bangalore last month to attract both tenants and builders. George clarified that SmartCity is not a construction or realty company but a space for creating knowledge-based habitats and offices.
Meanwhile, the promoters, Dubai-based SmartCity, is keen on setting up a much larger facility spreading up to 1,000 acres, in other parts of the India, preferably in the north. “Having stabilised the SmartCity project in Kochi, we are keen on looking for a similar but a much larger project elsewhere in the country, preferably in the north. The first phase of 6.5 sq ft will be ready by December and the work on another 36 lakh sq ft to be launched soon,” said Baju.
“Our plan is to develop a new SmartCity project spanning 500 to 1,000 acres,” he said without enumerating the investment size as it was too early. However, he hinted that it could be well over `10,000 crore. “Any location that can offer connectivity and a pool of raw talent will be okay. We are not looking at well-developed IT centres like Pune or Hyderabad but areas with good connectivity. Like the Kochi project, there will be a full-fledged digital master plan to ensure inter-operability so that the project is really smart and efficient,” George said and added that the company would finalise the plans after the forthcoming general elections.
The SmartCity Kochi with a capital expenditure of `5,000 crore is a cluster of futuristic buildings planned to house the ICT, media, finance, research and innovation giants in a 246-acre knowledge hub, said George, who is also the head of SmartCity Kochi as its MD.
Once completed, the four-phase project of self-contained knowledge townships, will have at least 88 lakh sq ft developed area and is expected to create over 90,000 direct jobs. Baju George said though the initial plan is to have 88 lakh sq ft, the objective is to increase it to 140 lakh sq ft of developed area over the next five years. The 6.5 lakh sq ft developed space will offer direct jobs to 36,000 people.Dubai-based GEMS Education has already announced their first south Indian campus in the city offering international education from KG level to 12th grade.
The state government holds 16 per cent equity in Kochi SmartCity project, while the rest is held by Tecom Investments, a subsidiary of Dubai Holding.