Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Scenario 2: THE DEVELOPER (2020)

The developer needs to be sensitive; who understands these modes of living heritage. Since Ranwar’s investment returns are high, a lot of potential investors are ready to invest in the development of the place. The thought of sustaining a conservation plan of this nature has to be noble and not just profitable. If the heritage committee is letting itself loose by allowing commercial activities of this kind, it also needs to take care of the economic balance by putting in better urban planning strategies in place. While the old dwellers are gone, there should be some way in which their lifestyle, which was very interdependent with the spaces they interacted with, is highlighted. Such preservation methods are one of the only ways to do so and with utmost delicacy.

… The phone rings and it is Rustom Cyrus calling Fr. Larry again. Rustom is 30 years old
and is a young developer with an innate sensibility towards emerging aesthetics, which is
visible through his restaurants and cafes. He is a young, enterprising property developer
with a conscience. The property rates in Bandra have been on a rise for a long time now and
today it falls in the same league as any other in the extreme south Mumbai like Marine Dirve
or Napean Sea road. This is mainly because of two reasons, one being that Bandra’s culture
is popular amongst the youth, it has an unmatched character when compared to the other
suburbs of Mumbai, the second is because of gentrification, Bandra is home to some of the
most affluent people in the Mumbai lifestyle. Any newwell thought out venture in Bandra
is sure to become a hit.

Tapping the same opportunity, Rustom wants to open his second café in Bandra, packaging
it as a neighborhood café that celebrates the Bandra character, its culture and heritage. He
knows that Ranwar has become one of the best places to invest in, because of its strategic
location being in the centre of the Bandra Reclamation, Bandstand, Hill Road and Bazaar
Road. Walking is always a pleasure there and the quaint lanes with its local vernacular
architecture make it an ideal location to have a corner café, chic boutique, or a designer
store. Venturesome investors and developers have bought most of the properties that were up
for grabs when the old time residents were moving out of Ranwar. The Trellis, which is Fr.
Larry’s house is one of the last ones left on the main Veronica Street of the hamlet. Rustom
is trying to convince Fr. Larry to give his property on lease to him before he succumbs to the
pressures of the other builders and sells it in utter dismay.

Selling the property would fetch him a one time amount, while if he retains the ownership
and gives it for lease, it would be profitable for the future for him as well as for Rustom.
More over Rustom agrees to the fact that he will run the café as per the village norms.
He wants to open a neighbourhood East Indian Café that would promote the culture and
heritage of the hamlet to its guests. The café would follow a contemporary look and the
aesthetics of the village architecture. While serving East Indian Cuisine it will showcase a
lifestyle that used to be followed here through a small interpretation centre and a gallery. As
it is a neighborhood café it would follow the system of having patrons who would contribute
to this place with their knowledge about the history of the place. His sensitivity towards the
space would be reflected by the fact that he will maintain the façade as it is.

While this conversation is on, Fr. Larry is thinking about there being no kids playing in the
square and how development has affected a noble lifestyle. The elite who move around there
will be provided with an experience that they can take with themselves and share it with
others. Rustom also understands the stakes he holds while he starts this café in terms of
heritage conservation and preservation, but he is ready to do his best for the place with his
sensibilities and at the same time earn a profit from the venture.

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