Already a buzzing business district by day and an entertainment hotspot by night, the fun factor at Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) is set to be cranked up several notches. But there’s a catch. Several exciting properties, including a movie theatre, a mall, a convention centre and high-end hotels, proposed for the area are nowhere near completion, and by the look of things, the public is in for a long wait.
FE has learnt that the construction of a 200-car drive-in movie theatre and a 500,000 sq ft mall at the premium Maker Maxity office complex has slowed down, as the builders, Indian Film Combine (IFC) — a joint venture between the Maker Group and Reliance Industries (RIL) — have not yet handed over the proposed drive-in to the operator, PVR Cinemas, for them to do their fit-outs. Along with the drive-in and the mall, IFC is also building a high-end private club and hotels — The Bellagio, MGM Grand and Skylofts hotels — all brands belonging to American global hospitality and entertainment chain MGM Resorts International, owners of the famed MGM Macau resort and casino.
However, the proposed properties in Mumbai will be non-gaming versions of these brands. The show stopper — RIL’s 7-million square feet Dhirubhai Ambani International Convention & Exhibition Centre (DAICEC) in the heart of BKC — is also under construction. In addition to conventions and exhibitions, the complex will have serviced apartments and a mall. However, an auditorium for live performances built on the lines of the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, will surely steal the show.
For now, though, workers at the site say it could be at least another two years before the facility is fully operational. At the project site office, a calendar is a prominent reminder of the deadline of December 31, an internal target set by the contractors for possibly completing a portion of the construction.
Property consultants Knight Frank India estimates that average rentals in Grade A office buildings at BKC are Rs 300-350 per sq ft per month, which could move higher. Compared to central business districts worldwide, this office space is still pretty cheap.
This is because the place is yet to catch up with respect to entertainment. Globally, the party places are always in the CBD areas, points out Viral Desai, national director, occupier solutions at Knight Frank India, so that residential areas are not disturbed. “If they develop facilities along the Mithi River that flows past the northern end of BKC,” says Desai, “you could have a waterfront within the city lined by bars and restaurants, like the Clarke Quay in Singapore or waterfronts elsewhere. There could be flea markets and open-air street bars at the centre of BKC. Parking and policing can be taken care of,” adds Desai.
Ryan Tham, who set up The Good Wife four years ago, agrees, saying the residential buildings in BKC are yet to be fully occupied and the clientele is mostly from the neighbouring, affluent suburbs of Bandra and beyond. Nonetheless, more restaurants have opened within BKC in the last one year.
The planning authority for the area, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), has grander plans for the CBD, and amended rules in 2016 to allow mixed-use development that permit commercial activities in residential areas and shops and restaurants to remain open at night as well. BKC is also in the midst of an infrastructure upgrade that will allow for better connectivity and de-congest the traffic to and from the area.