Epitome of modern living

Tridel Towers was born with a vision to bridge the gap between luxury and affordability in the local real estate industry

TRIDEL TOWERS is a real estate development and construction firm based in the city of Colombo. The firm is a by-product of the core team’s years of experience and competence gained within the industry. In fact, the key man behind Tridel Towers, Thiphaharan Siva has close to two decades of experience in property development, and is driven by a strong commitment to innovation and quality. Tridel Towers strives to stay on top of their game by catering to a new wave of customers from the upper-middle income market. The construction firm is deeply and constantly engaged in providing innovative product offerings that cater to the needs of their customers, which resonates with their idea of inspired living. Chairman Thiphaharan Siva, Executive Director Eric Pratheepan, Executive Director Ahamed Zaharan, Creative Director Jeyson Siva and Head of Sales and Marketing Ahmed al Ameen at Tridel Towers spoke exclusively with Echelon on real estate market trends and the strategies to tap the growing upper-middle income market.

What is the opportunity that made Tridel Towers venture into this area?
Thiphaharan Siva: The real estate market currently caters to two different types of customer segments. High-end construction firms offer luxurious properties, charging a premium, which often involves unjustifiable margins. On the other hand, low-end apartments are constructed targeting basic and unsophisticated customers. Tridel, however, is uniquely positioned in the market. We understand customer’s needs and the gap in the market, and have stepped in to fill this void with a product and service offering that’s better than the best on offer from both these segments. Our properties are built and designed using luxurious and high-quality material, fittings and amenities. Most importantly, the properties are offered at reasonable and justifiable price points, which makes it an attractive investment, given the superior quality of the finished product. This combination of attractive pricing and quality excellence is possible purely because of the costs saved and the economies of scale, as a result of in-house contracting.

Thiphaharan Siva, Chairman

How are you differentiating Tridel Towers from the rest of the firms in this space?
Thiphaharan Siva: Tridel Towers is primarily focused on building liveable communities within strategic locations. We are innovative with our concepts, as we identify with the changing and demanding lifestyles of today. The shift from traditional homes of the past to modern living spaces that offer convenience is at the top of our mind when designing and launching any new project. Our properties are built to last; it’s a ‘forever home’, whereas profits are merely a by-product. Our team is exceptional; they are experienced and have a passion for building living spaces that are unique in its own way. The team’s expertise has been proven, with the multiple projects already launched across Canada, India and Sri Lanka. This diversified exposure not only gives us the technical expertise and creative mindset to design and deliver a unique product, but it also helps us withstand varying market conditions. The ability to improvise and incorporate superior North American quality and standards in our product offerings is another benefit that comes from this exposure.

When there is a boom in an industry, often people get into it with little or no understanding of the industry, but expecting to grab a portion of the opportunity. It does not work that way. In real estate, a good understanding of the market, expertise in delivering, and most of all delivering on quality and in time is crucial. This is something we as a real estate company take very seriously, and our extensive background in real estate has us uniquely positioned to understand the market and create luxurious houses at an affordable rate. We believe we need to deliver in line with our customer expectations, and consistency is key; hence, we put a lot of emphasis on the quality of our teams. As a company, we are very selective of the teams that we get onboard, and have a handpicked team of professionals including experienced engineers, architects and designers working together to deliver the creative living concepts that we are constantly developing. This team is focused on building not only stylish but quality living spaces, but also ensuring that each building remains in the best condition for years to come. I sincerely believe that helping humans fulfil at least one major need in life, which of course is the ability to own a home, gives personal fulfilment, and this led to my passion in building enjoyable, and affordable liveable spaces. As a real estate firm, we are passionate about what we do, and our company culture is reflected within the work environment as well. We are attuned to social and emotional intelligence with a very relaxed and free working environment. As a result, we are able to bring out the best in people, while helping their unique personalities to blend and add value to the organization.

As a real estate firm, we are passionate about what we do, and our company culture is reflected within the work environment as well

The company is both the developer and contractor of the properties; can you explain how this synergy works?
Ahamed Zaharan: Tridel Towers has full control of the construction costs and this reduces our costs, as we don’t have a middleman. Hence, we are able to offer the product to our buyers at an attractive price – that’s Tridel’s speciality. Also, all critical aspects towards completing a project are directly controlled by the company itself. A contractor’s role and work forms a major and significant aspect in any property development project. Since we are also the contractor for our properties, we are able to maintain the highest quality. We infuse a personal touch to mitigate errors especially in activities related to sourcing, design, architecture, structural engineering and quantity surveying, because all these aspects of the business are handled and controlled in house.

You have chosen to focus on growth now, with a new business development wing established. Can you elaborate?
Thiphaharan Siva: Indeed, growth is something that we are focusing on. A young and dynamic team has been taken onboard with a view to grow and develop operations, get firsthand access to deals and establish important long-term strategic relationships. We have developed a 5-year strategic roadmap to ensure that worthwhile opportunities are seized at the right time. Our Executive Director Ahamed Zaharan, who is tasked with direction, is a Stanford-educated BBA (International Business) holder, with a Masters from Cardiff Metropolitan University and an entrepreneur himself, with interests in a range of industries here and abroad. Several innovative and results-oriented approaches have been taken to partner with best-in-class stakeholders internationally, and we will continue to focus on this area of speciality going forward as well.

What makes your properties special?
Thiphaharan Siva: Our current properties are designed, developed and constructed by a team with over 50 years of combined industry experience. As a result, errors are significantly mitigated. The materials sourced for our construction purposes are on par with the highest standards set and used by international construction firms around the world. For example, our fittings are from world-renowned brands such as Stosa cuiciné and Bravat. We don’t compromise on our quality for cost. There is a personal touch in each and every single project of Tridel Towers. I personally get involved and inspect the construction site from its commencement to the completion of the project. We also add value to each condominium project we do, in terms of providing facilities that offer convenience, basically everything besides the furniture, so our properties are not merely a structure/empty house.

Jeyson Siva, Creative Director

Can you give us an overview on emerging trends in the luxury apartments market?
Jeyson Siva: Affordable luxury is set to grow exponentially due to a rise in the middle-class segment with increasing per capita income, changing demographics and buyer preferences. Sri Lanka is increasingly moving into vertical living trends and is currently attracting expatriates and the diaspora, more than ever before.

But, if you look at some of the upcoming projects, the word ‘luxury’ has been abused; even cheaper developments are branded as luxury. At Tridel, we sincerely and seriously mean it when we say that we offer superior and luxurious-quality apartments, and this is also clearly reflected in our work. We believe that luxury can be affordable if condominiums are built using the highest-quality material, and the standard and relevant features/fittings are sourced at a low cost, due to the strong buying power and economies of scale enjoyed by a firm like ours. So, that makes it possible for us to deliver what we promise, staying true to our mission always.

What opportunities do you see emerging for Tridel Towers in the near future? How is the demand for these properties?
Thiphaharan Siva: As the real estate industry matures, unstable and inexperienced players will be forced to exit the market. This would leave room for serious and long-term focused organisations like Tridel Towers to offer genuine products at value for money.

We are a largely self-funded organisation, with personal investment at stake, as foreign direct investment gains momentum. Today, Tridel Tower properties have significant demand in the marketplace. We are almost completely sold out on our initial projects, which are ongoing at present. We will soon be handing over the completed condos to the owners. In fact, demand was quite high that we eventually had to incorporate additional units to some of the projects. We see growing demand for our properties, as Tridel Towers has now established itself as a firm that delivers on its promise – a promise to provide high-quality, sustainable homes at a reasonable price. Our homes incorporate best-in-class design, features and amenities, and that’s what people want. We have seen huge demand from expatriates and non-resident Sri Lankans, many foreign domiciled Sri Lankans who want to come back to their homeland and are investing in properties as a result.

How will you leverage these opportunities and will you consider entering the commercial space market?
Jeyson Siva: Earlier, construction firms shaped the real estate market, because they decided the location, created the concept, and put in the quality they wanted and pushed it to buyers. But today’s buyer is much smarter. He knows what he/she wants, from the location to the finished quality of the product. They do their own research before investing. So, going forward, we see that apart from merely looking at price and quality, buyers will also increasingly be looking at the track record and genuineness of the property development firm. We are mindful of constant changes in a growing market, hence, Tridel is positioned to respond according to the ever-changing and growing needs of today’s customers. Our primary focus is on developing residential condominiums for now. Yet, we are open to consider any other development opportunities within the commercial and leisure space, as and when they become feasible, and if benefits overweigh the cost involved.

Ahamed Zaharan, Executive Director

In your opinion, is there a condominium bubble?
Ahamed Zaharan: There has been much chatter recently about Sri Lanka’s potential bubble economy, but we don’t see a bubble in the areas that we operate. Talks about a condominium bubble emerge from quarters with little or no experience in property development in general and the local real estate market in particular. These are a lot of unfounded rumours with no scientific basis. In addition, it’s important to note that the market also consists of speculators and quick profiteers looking at the real estate industry like a casino, to earn quick cash and super profits. The real estate and property market is fundamentally different from the equities and capital markets, so we cannot look at it from an equity trader’s point of view. Whatever the market conditions may be, only property developers with a good track record, history and experience will continue to survive in the game. Since we are attuned to the dynamics of the industry, as a firm, Tridel has managed to weather many a storm and market cycle in the past, and will continue to do so in the future too.

What economic factors will drive growth in the condominium and commercial space markets in the future?
Thiphaharan Siva: Regardless of the country’s politics and who rules, as a whole, the overarching objective of any government has been to make Sri Lanka the next Singapore. But, Sri Lanka is fundamentally different to Singapore, which is a city-state, whereas Sri Lanka is a relatively larger island with a higher distribution in population.

The Government has now realised that the Western Province and Colombo in particular can be modelled along the lines of a successful ocean-facing city-state such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai. The megapolis is a result of this thinking and would lead to massive demand for urban development, especially with the rising population in Colombo/Western Province.

Condominium and commercial spaces are set to take centre stage, with more developments upcoming in the concentrated Megapolis.

Today, of Sri Lanka’s 19 plus million population, the percentage in vertical living spaces is still a mere 1%, which is extremely low in comparison to an average of 20% in developed countries, and even above 50% in advanced cities like New York. So, there’s a massive growth opportunity in terms of vertical living in Sri Lanka. Adequate housing is a major national issue at present, which is kept under the radar due to many other non-related issues under debate, including the constitution, fiscal consolidation, high external debt, export development and FDI generation – but going forward, this will become too big an issue to be ignored.

“Our focus on our end -product is so intense that profits become a byproduct”
– Ahamed Zaharan

We believe that, with the change in government policy, credit for housing will increase to a point spurring growth in demand, and the underdeveloped mortgage industry will have to step up to meet this pent- up demand. Sri Lanka’s economy will move slowly but steadily, and disposable income will spiral upwards. Also, the return of non-resident Sri Lankans, combined with the shift in trends from the traditional home in the outskirts to the dynamism of the urban centres, will see a significant change in market dynamics, and will create positive momentum with greater opportunity and demand within the residential property space.

At Tridel, we are geared to leverage the opportunities that this growth would create, while also focusing on how we can be a part of the country’s development process going forward.

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