Iftekhar Hosen dreamt of going abroad for higher studies after completing his bachelor in mechanical engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) in 2004. But, the dream remained unpursued as he could not manage enough money.
He had to take a job as a junior engineer for a salary of only Tk3,500 at a housing project run by his uncle Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu in Agrabad, Chattogram.
Iftekhar was responsible for overseeing the electrical aspect of the project. Chowdhury Associates, the company owned by his father Abul Hosen Chowdhury, was carrying out the construction.
It was at that time that Iftekhar thought of having his own real estate company.
"Back then, the main problem of this industry was a lack of people's confidence in it. The companies would not complete their projects within the stipulated time. Irregularity was the norm. I wanted to change that," said Iftekhar Hosen.
So, he founded his company, Chowdhury Properties Development Limited (CPDL), to transform the real estate scene in Chattogram.
"Our first project was Chowdhury Heights in Jamalkhan. We completed the 24-month project in 22 months," he said.
Iftekhar said each CPDL project site has a timer installed. "We have tried to introduce a culture of handing over apartments on time," he added.
The company has completed 33 projects in around two decades, introducing creative ideas such as a fully furnished studio office apartment, second homes, etc. Currently, 23 projects of the company are in progress in Dhaka and Chattogram.
CPDL introduced condominiums – which provide all the luxurious facilities under one roof – for the first time in Chattogram. These apartments have essential modern facilities including a swimming pool, walkway, gymnasium, badminton court, lounge, children's play zone, etc.
In 2014, the company completed the Crimson Clover project on a 30-katha plot in the Mehedi Bagh area of the city. It is the first star-class residence in the port city.
The CPDL has completed a condominium-style project named Down Town for middle-class buyers on a 60-katha plot in Firingibazar.
It has also constructed fully furnished studio office apartments named Plaza De CPDL in the city. Generally, 10 offices need 10 separate waiting rooms and everything including the kitchen. Plaza De CPDL provides common facilities for all, reducing office costs for businesses.
The company is building second home apartments titled The Galleria on 20 katha of land in the Foy's Lake area of the city with 100 small units in an 18-storey building.
Many people come to Chattogram city with their families from different parts of the country for various needs including business. This project is for them. Apart from staying in these small units of 375-975 square feet, owners can also take tenants for their flats like a hotel/ hostel.
Iftekhar Hosen, president of CPDL, told The Business Standard that he has always tried to think a little differently with innovation.
Chattogram's Jamalkhan has now become an area having fresh open air where people can sit, he mentioned, adding, "The credit goes to CPDL. We started here on the model of Dhaka's Bailey Road area."
"When we went to execute a project in Debpahar area of Chawkbazar, many people expressed doubt about people buying apartments there. We tried to change the environment of that area with the slogan – Unique Debpahar in green heritage. We call this social happiness. Money is not the prime goal all the time," he said.
The real estate innovator said, "We have some guests who cannot be taken home. Our condominiums have lounge-drawing rooms for them. There is also a food court. Just like a drawing room at home."
The company does not end its duty after handing over apartments to buyers. It also takes care of the benefits of flat owners by organising the customer community.
The company has developed an app named CPDL Service App for further services. If any problem is reported through the app, they provide the necessary services immediately.
Iftekhar Hosen said, "We consult our customers regularly on how to store everything in the apartment. We are not just working for financial gain. We are working to make people remember CPDL even after 100 years."
Iftekhar Hosen has established seven more companies after the establishment of CPDL.
Satellite city on the other side of Karnaphuli
If the tunnel under the River Karnaphuli is opened this year, communication between the two banks of the river will be easier. Some people want to live outside the city, but they also want all the modern facilities.
CPDL is working on building a satellite city in Anwara upazila on the bank of Karnaphuli.
The company has undertaken a project named Anindyanagar on a six-acre area there.
Iftekhar Hossain said, "Anwara is a growth centre outside the city. There is a plan to build a satellite city there under the 'One City Two Towns' slogan. If modern facilities including schools, colleges, parks, and religious centres can be created, people will live in the satellite city."
"We are working slowly. We are trying to communicate with the educational institutes in those areas to enhance the quality of education. We have also established a separate company named CPDL Neer to build a satellite city," he added.
Concerning the current crisis faced by the real estate industry in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war, he said, "A businessman's task is to face these sorts of challenges. This kind of crisis can arise in business. In our case, we take decisions consulting with all the policymakers of the company."