Where do you stay? This seemingly innocent question in itself, can leave you confused with some of the answers, unless you are also provided with a bit of context. Once, the response I received to my question was ‘JB Nagar.’ In order to facilitate the process of identifying the location, I queried back, ‘What’s the full form of JB Nagar?’ only to discover that the person, a long-time resident of that area, had no idea whatsoever.
It was perplexing because despite having roamed the length and breadth of the MMR over the decades, even I did not know the full form. Finally, I went online and discovered that JB Nagar’s full form was Jamunalal Bajaj Nagar, a neighbourhood in Andheri east, the western suburb of Mumbai. From airlines booking offices to pizza parlours, the list of establishments mentioning it as their address was quite noteworthy.
Interacting with residents made me aware that from a primarily industrial area to a sought after residential and commercial hub, the evolution of JB Nagar has been indeed impressive and it is a testament to the dynamic nature of Mumbai’s real estate market. The proximity of a metro station has boosted the area’s value and positioned it among the hotspots.
Located off the Andheri-Ghatkopar link road near Chakala, its proximity to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport makes it a prime business district. Incidentally, one can say the same about most localities from Versova to Saki Naka, a distance of about 11 odd kilometres that associate the magical word Andheri.
In the early days, JB Nagar was predominantly an industrial zone, housing manufacturing units and warehouses, characterised by narrow lanes, industrial complexes, and a vibrant working class community. However, as Mumbai expanded and the demand for residential and commercial spaces increased, J.B. Nagar underwent a significant metamorphosis.
The old industrial structures gave way to modern residential complexes, offering a mix of apartments and standalone houses. There has been a remarkable transformation in the real estate landscape here over the years. The emergence of commercial complexes and office spaces further elevated JB Nagar’s status and also provided a boost to the local economy. The influx of businesses brought about infrastructural improvements, including better roads, and increased public amenities.
Dr. Nitin Malekar, a resident of this area for the last four decades, has observed the evolution of JB Nagar through the turn of the century. The family house was bought by his parents in the mid-eighties. The 2BHK residence in a 3-wing building, currently occupied by Dr. Malekar, his wife Ashwini, son Dhruva, and daughter Radhika, is much larger than the earlier 1 room kitchen rental (pagdi) flat in Shivaji Park.
Dr. Nitin Malekar, his wife Ashwini, son Dhruva, and daughter Radhika |
The project, initiated by a group of LIC employees including his father, was built as a cooperative society on the last plot of land available then. While the location was quite desolate, they had opted for it because the rates were low and possibilities were high. There were some challenges faced during construction, ranging from legal permissions to harassment from the local thugs, but thankfully these got resolved.
Dr. Malekar recalls, “Beyond our place, there was just barren land till the Sahar International Airport. Even today our complex is like an oasis in the concrete jungle. It has lots of trees in the periphery. This was almost like moving into a quarter, with schools, small shops, and hospitals within a four-kilometre radius. Initially, we had seen snakes and mongoose regularly in our compound, but somehow nobody got troubled by them then.”
As JB Nagar underwent its transformation, the demand for modern amenities and lifestyle conveniences also surged. The influx of residential and commercial developments brought with it a wave of new shopping complexes, recreational facilities, and dining options. Residents now enjoy the convenience of shopping at upscale malls, dining at trendy restaurants, and accessing top-notch healthcare and educational institutions within the vicinity. Improved connectivity to major highways and the Mumbai Metro has made JB Nagar easily accessible, making it an attractive destination for both residents and businesses.
(The writer is a Trend Science, Communication & Marketing Consultant)