Ownership of Ruparel House, a Malabar Hill bungalow that often hosted pre-Independence meetings of the Indian National Congress and has seen the post-Partition refugee influx into the subcontinent's commercial capital, is about to change.
The next custodian of the Ridge Road property would need to shell out more than Rs 400 cr for the three-storeyed, sea-view structure sitting on half an acre of land in an area that ranks along with London's Mayfair and Tokyo's Minato-ku as among the planet's priciest real estate districts. If sold at the estimated price, it would be among India's top three residential home deals, matching the cost of similar properties in the most expensive London precincts.
The beige façade house, set off from the arterial road by a red-and-beige parapet, is located in the same neighbourhood as the historic Raj Bhavan, the Maharashtra governor's residence. Ruparel family's next-door neighbour and industrialist Jamshyd Godrej has shown interest in buying the property. Godrej is chairman and managing director of Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Co. The Ruparel family's business interests include textiles and sugar. It is also known for its collection of vintage cars, including Rolls Royces, a Bentley, an Aston Martin, and an E-Type Jaguar. The cars are stabled at Ruparel House, and at the family's Delhi and London residences.
The bungalow continues to be in good shape, but the Ruparel family members are now staying overseas and in New Delhi. It has a built-up area of 21,000 sqft and the next owner can either redevelop it into a private residence or a multi-storeyed project. With a landscaped garden and sprawling terrace, the sea-view property was initially constructed in the traditional Indian haveli style in 1928. It was remodeled in 1960 to reflect the more urbane tastes of the next generation of Ruparels. The current structure is built around an indoor garden, with a Japanese- style pond.
Shortage of space has forced several bungalows in south Mumbai's toniest localities of Carmichael Road, Altamount Road, Nepean Sea Road and Malabar Hill making way for luxury skyscrapers. Several industrialists and India's uber rich have also been buying bungalows for their personal use in the billionaires' district. In 2015, industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla emerged as the highest bidder for the sea-facing, 30,000 sqft Jatia House in Malabar Hill. The Aditya Birla Group chairman paid Rs 425 cr for the property, making it the most expensive bungalow deal ever in India then, surpassing the Rs 400 cr, Maheshwari House transaction of 2012.
Soon after, Cyrus Poonawalla, chairman of the Poonawalla Group, emerged as the highest bidder for the US Consulate's Lincoln House at Breach Candy for Rs 750cr, making it the costliest transaction for a house.In 2014, the Godrej family acquired Mehrangir, the Malabar Hill house of Homi Bhabha, father of India's nuclear programme, for Rs 372 cr.