When a U.S.-based cybersecurity company, name withheld as this is insider information, charted their expansion plans in Bengaluru, the company was pretty clear on one thing: the campus has to be at MG Road. It was almost a done deal – the pandemic had supposedly reduced real estate costs and there were good properties available. To their surprise, they faced stiff competition and eventually had to choose a property at Kasturba Road nearby.
2007 was the year MG Road Bengaluru lost its sheen as the must-go destination in Bengaluru. That was when its famed boulevard was demolished to make way for the pillars of the city’s metro rail service.
Anyone who has ever written their memoirs about their Bangalore days wax eloquent about how they spent their weekends walking at the boulevard, Lakeview Ice Cream Parlour at Kanna Buildings, or the Indian Coffee House. As if extended from the lush Cubbon Park nearby, its green aesthetics gave MG Road the pride of place in what was Bangalore.
Cherished both by old-timers and youngsters alike, the boulevard and its splendid walkway gave a beautiful view of the other side of the road that was studded with the remnants of a glorious history interlaced with the new and in-demand businesses.
Spearheaded by the Forum at Koramangala in 2004, shopping malls were already drawing away visitors. Offices, which took pride to be around MG Road, followed suit. The most evident one was probably Yahoo India, one of the IT majors that chose Bangalore as its India hub, which moved to Embassy Golf Links near Indira Nagar. Wipro substantially reduced the operations done at their registered office at S&B Towers, moving its base to Sarjapur Road.
As the metro work lagged on and tech parks cropped up in hitherto isolated suburbs such as Whitefield and Nagavara and more malls coming up across the city, MG Road’s prestigious position was slowly eroding.
MG Road back in the Bengaluru game
Flash forward 15 years, and MG Road is seen gaining its lost sheen.
Fortunes turned in 2021 when the Purple Line of Namma Metro from Baiyappanahalli to Kengeri opened. MG Road became easily accessible from Majestic Bus Stand and Bangalore Central Railway Station, KR Market, and KR Puram Railway Station and Outer Ring Road via Baiyappanahalli.
Improved commutation brought back MG Road its place as an office destination. Only this time, the biggest takers were coworking spaces. Operators like BHIVE, WeWork and Smartworks have their names on properties in and around MG Road. Competitor Awfis proudly flaunts its head office at MG Road.
MG Road, traditionally, has all the things going in its favour. Being the apex point of the city’s central business district (CBD), the 2.5km stretch continues to register one of the highest office rental growth in Asia Pacific region.
What changed the game completely is the rise of coworking spaces. The pandemic has turned many traditional office spaces into real estate burdens. High rents and the woes brought in by the metro works had taken the sheen off many of the MG Road properties. The realisation that an office address at this prime location can be maintained at a substantially reduced cost was attractive enough for several new and established firms.
Major names in global hospitality businesses such as Taj, Oberoi and Conrad have their presence in the vicinity and more such as Radisson are coming up in areas close by, retaining MG Road’s position as the premium leisure and networking location.
Old names such as S&B Towers are being replaced for new, swanky office facilities, while long-standing and reputed office buildings such as Raheja towers, Mahalakshmi Chambers, and Barton Centre are witnessing new registrations. With easier accessibility and reach to major commercial and residential hubs of the city, MG Road 2.0 is all set to regain its lost glory.