Wadala on track to become a mini Bandra-Kurla Complex: Naredco president

After Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) became the poster-boy of how new and well-laid-out districts can be carved out of a city, which is land strapped and clogged, it’s Wadala that is emerging as the BKC of the future.

Niranjan Hiranandani, president of the National Real Estate Development Council (Naredco) and co-founder and managing director of the Hiranandani Group, said Wadala has every potential to become a BKC-styled district, albeit on a smaller scale. 

He added that the amount of land available there for development now is limited compared to BKC. 

“Even then, the area is similar to other developed districts in the Mumbai area that include Navi Mumbai and Powaii,” he said. 

He added, “Connectivity is the new added benefit that Wadala has with regard to its location with BKC. The new Sion-BKC flyover has opened up access to Wadala residents.”

Shaishav Dharia, chief executive officer (CEO), regional, for the Lodha Group, which owns around 22-acres in the region, said opening of the Sion-BKC bridge means that Wadala to BKC (G Block) can take less than 10 minutes by car. 

“This means that Wadala is truly an extension of BKC (actually takes lesser time than Kurla or Kalanagar) and is hence called BKC-2 by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). Additionally, while Wadala’s own social infrastructure is being developed, residents or office users will be able to access the BKC infrastructure, including upcoming malls and the convention centre. This will be a big plus,” he said. 

Other realtors in the area include Ajmera Realty & Infra India. 

Proximity to BKC is, in fact, itself one of the driving forces for the potential long-term success of the Wadala region. 

Ramesh Nair, CEO and country head for property management company JLL India, said, “BKC is maxed out in terms of office space and supply. The closest option is Wadala. Equally, for those working in BKC, there’s very little mainstream residential options to choose from and Wadala now fills that vacuum.”

Do rental rates echo that view? 

Dharia said that at the Lodha New Cuffe Parade project, it has achieved office and residential rates which are around 50 per cent-60 per cent of Grade-A BKC developments for companies and residential buyers. For example, current office rates are around Rs 140-Rs 150 per square feet at the Lodha Excellus building compared to Rs 275-325 in BKC.

The other feathers in Wadala’s hat are proximity to the Eastern Freeway, Eastern Express Highway (EEH), the monorail, and the upcoming metro-4 corridor. In addition, the MMRDA recently confirmed plans to transform Wadala into BKC-2, a vibrant commercial hub on the lines of BKC.

“Mumbai’s growing workforce lives in Wadala, Chembur, and Sewri, which all connect well with the BKC-EEH bridge, that will also connect BKC to South Mumbai,” said Dharia. So far, Lodha has delivered 1,800 flats in New Cuffe Parade projects with 1,500 occupants and another tower under development will be ready in the next couple of years. 

While the flyover opening is a positive for residents of Wadala and adjoining areas, for the district to become a bustling hub, it will take more pieces to fall into place. Supporting infrastructure such as hospitals and schools will be needed to piece together the social ecosystem initially. 

Wadala is close to Chembur and Matunga that provide residents access to schools and hospitals until its own supporting infrastucture is developed in line with the masterplan released by the MMRDA.

Gulam Zia, executive director at realty consultancy and management company Knight Frank India, said with Trans-Harbour Link work progressing in full swing and connections with the Bandra-Worli Sealink also coming up, Wadala is getting ready to wrestle the tag of the most happening commercial business district (CBD) from BKC.

“However, it may not happen immediately with the Indian and global economy not supporting a sudden upsurge in office space demand to fill up all the upcoming and future office spaces of Wadala,” he said.

He added that a time horizon of about a decade would see Wadala emerge as the foremost CBD of Mumbai.

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