Metro, Monorail, Eastern Freeway and now Santacruz-Chembur Link Road are all marquee projects of Mumbai that have a connection with the eastern suburbs. Given all of the above, the SCLR will definitely be a game-changer for real estate in the city, writes Ramesh Nair, Chief Operating Officer – Business, Jones Lang LaSalle India.
India’s first double-decker flyover, Santacruz-Chembur Link Road, undertaken under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project of MMRDA, will provide much-needed east-west connectivity in Mumbai. Starting from Vakola Junction on 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 on April 10, 2014. After several cost overruns, the SCLR is estimated to have cost the MMRDA about Rs.450 crore, a fourfold jump in cost since it was first projected.
The prolonged delay in completing the project was primarily due to the numerous cases against SCLR related to resettlement and rehabilitation, and encroachment, among others. Another bottleneck was the bridge over Central Railway tracks, which took years to receive the final nod. However, all issues have been cleared and SCLR is now open for use.
As per estimates given by the MMRDA, 80,000 vehicles are expected to use the SCLR daily and the travel time between Chembur and Santacruz is expected to drop from the current 90 minutes to 20 minutes. CST Road, Amar Mahal Junction, Nehru Nagar and Lokmanya Tilak Terminus are the four locations for access and entry points. The top deck will cater to traffic between Amar Mahal junction and Vakola junction. The lower deck on the other hand will provide connectivity between Lokmanya Tilak Terminus and Kurla Diary in Nehru Nagar from Kalina.
Near-term impact on real estate
The economics of transportation infrastructure have always had a positive impact on real estate values – most 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, Vidya Vihar 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 BKC, its adjoining areas and CST Road is already rising perceptibly.
As intended, the SCLR has significantly reduced commuting time to BKC from the eastern suburbs, further improving the connectivity of Mumbai’s hottest new business district. The significant decongestion of Western and Eastern Express Highway is turning out to be a game-changer for commercial projects around them. In fact, the reduced load on JVLR 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 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 in eastern suburbs, 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.
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.
Impact on micro-markets
In absolute terms, there will be no sizeable impact; however, the relative attractiveness of other markets due to the completion of SCLR will further enhance the trend of shifting from CBD to the other more viable business districts. However, the fact that the Eastern Freeway provides a positive impetus for the CBD may help in delaying the trend.
We expect a slight price correction to match the relative attractiveness of suburbs as alternative business destinations, while supply and absorption rates will remain flat. A positive impact will be seen in this 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 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.
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.
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.
Given all of the above, the SCLR will definitely be a game changer for real estate in the city.