By: Ramesh Nair
India’s first double-decker flyover, Santacruz-Chembur Link Road (SCLR), undertaken under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project of MMRDA, will provide the much-needed east-west connectivity in Mumbai. Starting from Vakola Junction on the Western Express Highway and extending up to Amar Mahal Junction near the Eastern Express Highway, the 6.45 km six-lane road was thrown open to commuters last week.
NEAR-TERM IMPACT: The economics of transportation infrastructure have always had a positive impact on real estate values – especially in Mumbai. Homes and offices located in the proximity of transportation infrastructure command a premium because of the increased accessibility. In fact, Kurla, Sion, Vidyavihar and Chembur may see significant surge in developer interest. There has already been a jump of close to 25 per cent in Chembur’s property prices — an impact attributed to the cumulative effect of mega-projects like the Eastern Freeway, Monorail, Metro and now SCLR. Meanwhile, demand for properties in Bandra-Kurla Complex, its adjoining areas and Chembur-Sion-Trombay Road is already rising perceptibly.
MID-TERM IMPACT: As intended, the SCLR has significantly reduced commuting time to Bandra-Kurla Complex from the eastern suburbs, further improving the connectivity of Mumbai’s hottest new business district. The significant decongestion of Western and Eastern Express Highways is turning out to be a game-changer for commercial projects around them. In fact, the reduced load on Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road and Sion-Dharavi Link Road will have a positive impact for the property market in the western suburbs and BKC.
From a real estate perspective, the fact that commuters from the western suburbs and Suburban Business District (SBD) North will now prefer to use the SCLR to commute to Navi Mumbai, Panvel and other areas and back is an important and positive change for these markets. Reduced traffic congestions at Amar Mahal Junction in Chembur, Vakola in Santacruz, parts of Sion and Kurla will increase the liveability quotient of these areas and boost demand for commercial as well as residential real estate. The overall development potential of areas near the access points of SCLR in terms of residential, retail and commercial projects will also shoot up.
LONG-TERM IMPACT: As companies become increasingly employee-friendly in the long term, they will value shorter commuting hours for their workforces. BKC stands to gain the maximum because of this trend, as residential absorption is bound to increase in the eastern suburbs. A positive impact will be seen in the BKC micro-market, as the SCLR is expected to boost BKC’s connectivity and decrease travel time significantly. Also, as SCLR emerges as the preferred east-west corridor, Kalanagar Junction will become less congested, which is another positive factor for BKC.
Supply and absorption will both rise in SBD North as a result of the improved linkage with the eastern suburbs and even Navi Mumbai. Besides BKC and eastern suburbs, this micro-market will see the maximum positive impact. With most of the infrastructure projects happening in the eastern suburbs, new commercial space tenants may give the western suburbs a miss as the difference between the two suburbs has become more pronounced. One positive will be the decongestion of JVLR, which is usually clogged during peak hours due to the east-west traffic.
The metro, monorail, Eastern Freeway and now SCLR are all the marquee projects of Mumbai that have a connection with the Eastern Suburbs. Supply, absorption and rental/capital values are expected to move up.
Tired of traffic congestion, many Mumbaiites are looking to trade in their current lifestyle for one that gives them more choices and flexibility. Another pertinent fact is that the challenge for talent in the next decade will prompt office tenants to increasingly locate in suburban business districts that offer their employees advantages such as access to a larger variety of utilities and services. Given all of the above, the SCLR will definitely be a game changer for real estate in the city.
— The author is COO – Business, JLL India