Highways to life-Housing on Mumbai’s Western Express Highway
The lifeline of Mumbai has always been the suburban train network with local trains supporting more than 7.5 million commuters daily. However, due to immense overcrowding in local trains, the highway in the upmarket western suburbs is a viable commuting alternative for office goers. Proximity to the highway has become the pièce de résistance for housing in a city where distance is measured not in kilometres, but in time. As a result, the Andheri East-Jogeshwari East corridor, adjoining the highway has become one of the most popular house-hunting destinations in Maximum City.
When completed, the metro line will provide connectivity among the existing Western Express Highway, Western Railway, Metro Line 1 (Ghatkopar to Versova), the ongoing Metro Line 2A (Dahisar to DN Nagar) and the proposed Metro Line 6 (Swami Samarth Nagar to Vikhroli). With an eye on the highway and the upcoming Metro Line 7 (16.75 km elevated corridor with 13 stations from Andheri East to Dahisar East), many developers have launched projects adjacent to the highway in recent years, including:
• Omkar’s Alta Monte (Malad)
• Oberoi Realty’s Sky City (Borivali East)
• Oberoi Esquire (Goregaon East)
• Joy and Sayla Realtor’s Callista (Andheri East), and
• A&O Realty’s Palazzio (Jogeshwari East)
While some of these are standalone redevelopment/SRA projects, the larger ones, such as Oberoi Sky City, are on premium land purchased by the developer to construct large townships.
These launches boosted the attractiveness of North Mumbai, which has always been popular due to its rapid civic infrastructure deployment, robust social infrastructure and proximity to commercial establishments and retail markets.
The North Mumbai Market
Locations between Andheri and Dahisar have been very active on the real estate and infrastructure fronts of late. These residential catchments, already well-known for their sound social infrastructure (health, education, recreation and entertainment facilities) have also become sought-after office destinations for mass as well as niche employment.
Andheri/Jogeshwari, Goregaon and Malad are replete with New Age offices and IT Parks in addition to conventional office buildings. SEEPZ and MIDC offer IT spaces and industrial spaces respectively, while Goregaon’s 10-acre Nirlon Knowledge Park is a buzzing hub for IT offices, BPOs, banks and others. Overall, North Mumbai now has approximately 15 million sft of Grade A office space.
NESCO IT park, Oberoi ‘Commerz’ (located within an integrated development), Raheja Titanium, Sun Pharma, Silver Metropolis and TCS’ Banyan Park are all landmark office locations located along Western Express Highway. Apart from IT companies and BPOs, the location caters to the BFSI sector.
Proximity to the domestic and international airport also makes these markets attractive for logistics companies. It also offers a number of high-end hotels such as ITC Grand Maratha, Westin, Leela and Sahara Star for tourists and business travellers. The large talent pool residing between Andheri and Dahisar is a huge attraction for domestic as well as multinational companies setting up offices in these suburbs. As a result, housing in North Mumbai consistently attracts both end-users and investors.
Existing and Upcoming infrastructure projects: In recent years, North Mumbai – particularly the Andheri/Jogeshwari/Goregaon belt – has been the focal point for a number of infrastructure projects which have amplified the East-West connectivity and also provided easy access to office-goers from the Western line suburban train stations to the highway.
• The Ghatkopar-Versova metro line and opening up of railway overbridges between Jogeshwari and Goregaon have helped office goers reach their destinations faster
• East-West connectivity has also been amplified by the opening of the Mrinal Tai Gore Flyover connecting the highway in Goregaon East with SV Road on the West, and the Balasaheb Thackeray Flyover which connects JVLR with SV Road
• This area is already well-connected to the eastern suburbs through Jogeshwari- Vikhroli Link Road, Goregaon- Mulund Link Road (between Goregaon and Powai through Aarey) and Andheri- Kurla-Ghatkopar Link Road
• The upcoming Coastal Road will reduce congestion on the Western Express highway
• The upcoming metro will improve its connectivity with South Mumbai as well as ease out the pressure on Western Express Highway between Dahisar and Andheri
• Plans to widen the Andheri-Kurla road to resolve morning traffic bottlenecks are underway.
Social Infrastructure in Andheri/Jogeshwari East: Apart from proximity to commercial establishments, Andheri/Jogeshwari (East) also has a number of good schools, hospitals, hotels and retail establishments. 5-star hotels viz. Hyatt Regency, ITC Grand Maratha and J W Marriott are located in this micro market. Holy Spirit, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani, Criticare and Nanavati Hospitals are within half an hour’s travel time. Some famous malls like the Oberoi mall and Infiniti mall are close by.
Robust rental housing demand: Due to its many advantages, the Andheri/Jogeshwari east corridor has a flourishing rental housing market. Older locations like the Sher E Punjab Society in Andheri East and Greenfields Co-operative Housing Society along JVLR have seen steady rentals. Recent launches which are close to the highway in destinations like Goregaon East have commanded premium rentals.
While 2 BHK options in Raheja Ridgewood fetch rentals of Rs. 50,000 pm, high-end projects like Lodha’s Fiorenza (Goregaon East) are setting new standards with rentals going up to Rs. 60,000 pm for 2 BHKs. Landlords in Oberoi Exquisite (Goregaon East) are quoting rentals at Rs. 90,000 onwards pm for 3 BHKs. Booming rentals in these markets are a factor of proximity to the highway and the value offering seen in branded projects.
Rising to the affordability challenge: While high rentals underscore the market’s ability to pay the price of convenience, it also indicates end-users’ inability to make purchase decisions. In view of this, some new residential launches have their pricing calibrated to make buying easier. These new projects offer end-users 1 BHK options within an affordable budget. For instance, Omkar’s Signet project located along the Western Express Highway offers 1 BHKs within 75-80 lakh and 2 BHKs within 105-115 lakh in Malad (East), also on the Western Express Highway.
Due to its location advantage and pocket-friendly pricing, the project which was launched six months ago sold 570 apartments in 15 days and is now already sold out. The performance of this project clearly indicates that a value offering by a branded developer parceled with the ‘excellent location’ tag will always work well in Mumbai.
Demand for self-sufficient townships: Developers with large land parcels in the North Mumbai market can offer end-users generous amenities within self-sufficient townships. After Hiranandani Developers set this trend with their township in Powai, soon a number of other developers followed suit. Along the Western Express Highway in the northern belt, the Thakur Village Township is a perfect example of a cluster of branded developers transforming a rural precinct into an upmarket location replete with schools, retail outlets, high-end residential apartments and cinema complexes. In Goregaon East, Oberoi Developers have offered luxurious green surroundings and high-end amenities in their ‘Exquisite’ project.
Omkar Developers are now offering 1, 2 and 3 BHK residences in their recently launched project ‘Passcode Andheri Highway’ at Shankarwadi, adjacent to the Western Express Highway and close to the upcoming Andheri Metro station. The first phase of this 5-acre project is offering approximately 1200 apartments with ticket sizes ranging from Rs. 87 lakh onwards for a 1 BHK, Rs. 1.24 crore onwards for a 2 BHK and over Rs 1.6 crore for a 3 BHK. The developer has included a host of luxury amenities like culinary services by culinary expert Ranveer Brar, separate recreational areas for senior citizens, yoga zones, urban farming, indoor and outdoor sports, spa, salons and a leisure space which is fast disappearing – terraces.
While offtake in most of Mumbai’s residential markets has been slow, numbers show that sales have been good in projects which offer value for money and good location. Andheri East and Jogeshwari East have an inherent location advantage, and the time is ripe for residential townships which can provide a much-needed work-life balance in India busiest metropolis. These locations will be prime residential hotspots in the immediate future.