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Another Look At Redevelopment - 5th Jan, 2008. Times Property (Times of India)

The age of a building should be used as a barometer and town planning strictly implemented before redevelopment

I was surprised to hear from a doctor friend who owns a property in Lokhandwala Complex Andheri west, two buildings away from mine, that his housing society was approached by a developer for redevelopment of the building and they were considering it. Similarly, someone else claimed to have received an offer too, at the end of the Lokhandwala road, corner building, where the developers proposed to make a mall!!

A couple of facts that are well established are; a) The 'Almighty' has no plans of making more land b) There is no land available in the region for development c) The land on which we have mangroves (thank God for that) have a high court order restriction for any type of use. So does that mean that we start targeting 25 to 30-year-old buildings for the sole purpose of commercial benefit / exploitation and tear them to dust for "redevelopment"?

I, for one, am completely against it! I think our laws are ridiculous and our 'democratic right' is being exploited beyond reason. Just because many societies in many locations in the suburbs from Bandra to Borivali have done that, it does not justify as reason enough, in a socalled "planned residential township" (which is now a living nightmare at times due to high street shopping). Lokhandwala Complex does not have to see itself getting into a demolition drive for redevelopment.

This is beyond any logic or comprehension. I am sure everyone, including our family who moved there in 1988 and further bought another property in the same building in 2003, did not buy to exploit it from a commercial angle, but for self-use and peaceful living. Yes, capital appreciation is great but unless you are selling it is only a sense of satisfaction and remains in accounting books as your asset value. One does not buy a 'home' to exploit it commercially and to sell to a developer for redevelopment purpose and profit from it.

I strongly feel a barometer for the age of buildings should be set for redevelopment of any sort. What redevelopment brings is good looking structures (not necessarily all the time) but it also brings in a huge burden on the existing average infrastructure. Redevelopment in suburbs usually means addition of TDR and, more area means more population into already congested locations. Further it means need for more water, drainage, power, telephone lines - more digging! Creating parking issues and getting ugly boards on the gates asking visitors to park outside only to find out there is another board from the traffic department saying 'No Parking' leaves us exactly in the same mess we have lived in the last two decades and, in fact, only makes it worse.

If I remember right the redevelopment fad started when our ministers wanted to make Mumbai into Shanghai. Now, I have been to Shanghai, trust me what we are doing here makes us the most unplanned city in the world. What we have in Mumbai from Marine Drive to Byculla; locations like Kalbadevi, Grant Road, Charni Road, Mohammed Ali road and those neighbourhoods; that's what the old Shanghai was like and, the new Shanghai is like a mix of Bandra-Kurla complex (only the buildings are three times taller) and the residential side is like the Hiranandani Complex at Powai.

I mentioned the locations of Mumbai above because those are locations with old and dilapidated structures which need redevelopment and can go vertical and thereby create decongestion, I know it is easier said than done but if things have to be implemented they should be in the locations which need implementation.

I was taken aback when I saw a building called 'Mangal Murti' on Santacruz Linking Road brought down to dust. It was one of the most prestigious buildings in the early nineties made with an Italian marble façade. A few days later I heard that a building called 'Navroze' at Pali Hill is receiving offers from developers. The building must be just about 30 years old and in good condition, barring minor repairs and painting.

Now this is where the 'age of the building' should be used as a barometer and `Town planning' should be strictly implemented before we create a bigger mess of the city than it already is.