Is South Bombay (SoBo) losing out in Mumbai’s realty stakes?


Construction hubs in Mumbai are steadily shifting north and this has raised questions as to whether South Mumbai will be able to hold onto its illustrious glory or not. Mumbai is one of the most unique real estate markets in the country both in terms of the exclusive nature of property and the price-points. Mumbai has witnessed the growth of a new market for real estate which is the MMR (Mumbai Metropolitan Region) and this indicates the increasing scope for real estate beyond the limits of the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation).

South Bombay’s vertical growth and high rise aspirations have been perennially halted by several regulations and other bureaucratic rules. Expansion in realty markets has naturally taken place towards the north in recent years. The commercial hub was earlier in SoBo but the new hubs are now in Malad West, Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), Powai and the Andheri-Kurla Road. The IT industry, particularly, is shifting towards locations that are further northwards including the Ghodbunder Road in Thane and Mahape and Vashi in Navi Mumbai among others. The Ghodbunder Road is coming up as a major corporate hub for organizations which already have offices spread across Mumbai city and are looking to consolidate and relocate to suburbs on account of good connectivity to the central and western railway lines.

The migration in business hubs has also led to an evolution in terms of happening residential destinations. If one were to analyze new project launches in Mumbai and the MMR over the last year or so, it will be clear that luxury residential locations are not just limited to South Bombay with several luxury projects being favored by buyers in suburban areas as well. Also, the growth in the affordable housing segment is being spurred majorly by better connectivity to employment hubs and hence second home destinations like Neral and Karjat are witnessing good demand in case of affordable first home purchases.

Commercial real estate has been moving steadily away from South Bombay. There are cutting edge retail spaces in Hiranandani Gardens in Powai and there is competition from Vashi and Thane in terms of shopping malls and luxury retail space. The high street retail segment was previously limited to Fort/Breach Candy in SoBo but it is also moving northwards, encompassing places like Borivali and Bandra, which offer both mid and high range shopping facilities. South Mumbai is surrounded on three sides by water and there are restrictions on building vertically. This automatically limits home choices and locations like Ghodbunder Road in Thane, which have good infrastructure and connectivity along with the lovely Yeoor Hills and Ulhas River on both sides, automatically benefit.

With several defunct mills in Central Mumbai turning into premium realty ventures, more and more people are shifting northwards from South Mumbai on account of high maintenance costs. The population in South Mumbai has come down with more lower and middle income residents moving northwards. People purchasing homes in uber luxury properties in South Bombay are majorly reputed businessmen and corporate leaders according to experts. Those who do not find luxury homes to their liking in SoBo generally choose areas like Powai where there are good lfiestyles on offer. South Bombay is expected to evolve even further with a lower number of residents and a major chunk of these will be high-end home residents. SoBo in the future will be characterized by major infrastructure projects like the ferry services connecting it to Alibaug and Navi Mumbai and also the Sewri-Nhava trans-harbor bridge.

These developments may create new growth opportunities for real estate in South Mumbai (SoBo). According to experts, it will majorly be centered on penthouses, duplexes and four bedroom apartments that are sized between 2,000 and 10, 000 sq. ft. The only difference between SoBo presently will be its evolution into an ultra premium zone inhabited by only the wealthiest individuals in the city.