Every time a relative comes visiting, retired mill worker Namdeo Hule (59) cringes. His 100-sq-ft house in Tejukaya Mansion’s building number 7 in Lalbaug is already too small to accommodate his family of five.
One extra person means the former employee of Jam Mills and his two sons have to sleep outside their house. “I am worried about how I will manage after my grandson is born,” said Hule. “I may have to move the sofa set out.”
This space crunch is now set to ease, not just for the 500-odd residents living in 12 chawls in Tejukaya Mansion but also for more than 8,000 tenants of 80 old buildings in Lalbaug.
Dilapidated chawls in Lalbaug will soon be redeveloped into towers where tenants will get 300-sq-ft one-bedroom-hall-kitchen flats. Many of these projects have either been approved or are in the final stages of negotiations between developers and tenants.
Tejukaya Mansion, an 8,000-sq-m property, is being redeveloped by the landlords, Tejuakaya and Company. “Our tenants want to continue living in Lalbaug but are finding it difficult to adjust in small houses as their families have grown,” said Pranav Tejuakaya, the firm’s managing director.
These new houses will be worth at least Rs 40 lakh with flats here selling for Rs 14,000 a square foot.
Lalbaug is inhabited mainly by working class Maharashtrians, most of who came from Konkan in the late 19th century when Mumbai was emerging as a textile hub. These migrants worked in the city’s 58 textile mills and continued to stay here even after the mills shut down following the 1982 strike. Over the past six years, the area has seen developers line up to build residential and commercial complexes.
With developers now eying Lalbaug as a cluster, its character is set to be transformed.
Ganesh Gully, famous for one of the biggest Ganesh festivals in Mumbai, will be redeveloped by Orbit Corporation Limited. Orbit has purchased 13 buildings here and is aiming to buy 40.
Then there is a 26,000-sq-m redevelopment project for Islam Mill, Lalbaug. Nish Developers will build 1,080 houses for the tenants and municipal staff here. In return, the developer will get 300 flats admeasuring 1,100-1,400 sq ft to sell. “The area is in the vicinity of the business district and corporates are eager to buy flats here,” said Kailash Agarwal, managing director, Nish Developers.
Anuj Puri, country head and managing director of real estate consultancy firm Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj, said: “Lalbaug is ideal for people who want to remain close to south Mumbai. Unlike in south Mumbai where landlords demand higher compensation for property, here the rates are moderate.”
Other chawls on the revamp list are Peru Chawl, Doctors’ Compound and Meghwadi Chawl comprising a total of 1,010 tenants.
The National Textile Corporation has announced that the 32,400-sq-m Jam Mills compound will be redeveloped.
Author Sharada Dwivedi worries that this will end the culture of bonhomie chawls are known for. “All chawls had a central courtyard where people spent time. This won’t be possible now as they will live in isolation in high rises.” She said the place will now become a gated community.
Even Navroze Baug, an exclusive enclave of the Parsi community, has decided to go for a revamp. The locality’s 380 flats will make way for 1,000 bigger flats. The Parsi Punchayet will develop the property and houses will be sold only to Parsis.
Lalbaug will also have a multiplex in the neighbourhood once Vardhaman Builders constructs a multiplex on the plot where the 2,000-sq-m Ganesh Talkies stands.