(Indian Express, April 29, 2011)
The city of Mumbai houses around 14 million people, which makes it India’s most populous city and the world’s second-most populous city, according to the 2010 census. It is also India’s richest city because it has the highest GDP.
Unfortunately, it also has an extremely complicated and lopsided real estate market. Properties in the island city are notorious for being the most expensive real estate in India. This has caused the city to grow far into the mainland in the north and east directions, and this has resulted in the working population having to commute at least two hours to and from work every day.
To compound it all, there is a massive annual inward migration of aspiring job seekers into Mumbai. The city has been bursting at the seams for quite a while now, and its infrastructure is rocking and reeling.
The point I am making is that ‘destination development’ in the Mumbai context is a tricky and very non-typical concept. I do not see destination development in this city in terms of projects, but in terms of locations. This is because a well-conceived and executed residential project in Mumbai is still only as good as the infrastructure that makes its location accessible and capable of providing a certain level of comfort and lifestyle.
The inner city certainly does not offer much by ways of available land parcels anymore, and those that are available are hamstrung by infrastructure challenges. To my thinking, Mumbai’s residential property destinations of the future will be those that are seeing sufficient infrastructure development.
So, rather than singling out any project, I would like to stress on the fact that destination development and infrastructure development are joined at the hip in Mumbai. To make a destination project viable, it has to provide accessibility, open spaces and social conveniences such as shopping facilities, schools and hospitals.
- Powai stands out as a clear candidate for excellent destination development location because the Jogeshwari Vikhroli Link Road offers good connectivity between the western and central suburbs. It is one the prime examples of destination development projects in the country, which has been positioned with the right mix of asset classes, fabulous architecture and the vision of a developer.
- In terms of accessibility, the Western Express Highway, S. V. Road and Linking Road along the western line have made Mumbai’s western suburbs very attractive to upper mid-income homebuyers who are seeking a better lifestyle. In fact, the direct road connectivity offered by the Western Express Highway has caused Thane’s Ghodbunder Road to emerge as an extended western suburban destination.
- In the Western Suburbs, Malad and Goregoan have been the examples of destination development in the past where developers like Raheja and Oberoi have created a cluster of excellent commercial office, retail and residential projects.
- Similarly, the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar Metro will make locations along its route very lucrative for both commercial and residential space developers.
- Navi Mumbai and Kalyan-Dombivali real estate is also going to hit some new high notes with the coming of the new International airport. The highest focus will be on Panvel and its immediately adjoining areas, since Panvel is Navi Mumbai’s last node and also the ingress for the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. A speedier focus on the development of physical and social infrastructure in the region will ensure that this region maintains its attractiveness as a destination on the Mumbai real estate map.