With the recent Supreme Court ruling banning the sale of liquor from establishments located within 500 meters of the National and State highways, a new real estate dynamic is at play. Two different categories of establishments have been impacted, with corresponding effect on real estate:
1. F&B outlets located within malls and stand-alone restaurants located along ‘within city limits’ highways
2. Liquor shops and bars located along national and state highways beyond the urban jurisdiction of the city
In the category of organized F&B players with establishments located within urban jurisdictions in cities like Gurgaon, ingenuous methods to increase the distance from the highway have been arrived at. Gurgaon’s Cyber Hub is an interesting case in point. Until now, proximity to main roads and highways was a key positive for a location. Now – at least for liquor-based F&B outlets and retail establishments, the reverse is becoming true.
The process of de-notification of many of these highways is underway, but there is a general sense of insecurity amongst bar and restaurant operators. In Mumbai, the Western and Eastern Expressway highways are being de-notified. From an urban planning perspective, this may not be a bad thing at all. Though the de-notification process is a reaction to a ban rather than a carefully thought-out change, it is a much-needed one.
In Mumbai, both the express highways (Eastern and Western) currently function more like city roads than highways. Within the urban jurisdiction of Mumbai, the character of these highways – flooded as they are with snail-paced vehicular traffic throughout the day – is that of a city road. Their definition as ‘highways’ in the classic sense is therefore highly debatable.
In the rest of Maharashtra, the Government has received proposals from Jalgaon, Latur and Yavatmal municipal corporations seeking to de-notification of highways, which have been okayed. In Pune, however, the municipal corporation has not yet sought to de-notify key highways. In this city, while some restaurants continue to function without liquor along the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, some others are relocating to areas beyond the 500-meter limit because going ‘dry’ is simply not an option.
The challenge is to maintain visibility and accessibility to transiting customers despite moving further inside the city. Hotels close to IT business hubs in Hinjewadi and Kharadi are most impacted. In Bangalore, hotels located on the outskirts of the city are understandably far from happy. In Tamil Nadu, the de-notification of Anna Salai in Chennai as a state highway is likely. The natural question of what happens to the upkeep of the all these highways post de-notification arises, and this is still a big question mark…