Context in Region
The proposed regional growth framework emphasizes using infill development strategies and building new settlements in close proximity to expandable existing infrastructure and employment centres. As the core of regional knowledge industry employment, Rushikonda will need to provide housing, additional knowledge industry and support livelihoods, recreation, and social amenities to meet growth demands. New parks, open spaces, and waterways will model low impact development for the region by employing green infrastructure and waterway rehabilitation projects.
One key node in the coastline is Rushikonda, an area of natural beauty that also has significant economic development potential. The growth of the Rushikonda area will build on the tourism potential of the oceanfront, and the development potential of the nascent IT sector, to create an integrated, high-quality “live, work, play” environment.
Rushikonda will be developed as two distinct zones with complementary economic functions and urban characters. The southern zone will be developed along the coastline (Ocean Drive) as a centre for domestic beach/recreation tourism. The target market will be upper-middle-income Indian tourists, similar to those that already come to Vizag in significant numbers. There will be small “boutique” hotels on or near the beach, with some mid-sized resort hotels along the stream and facing the sea (see schematic plan diagram). One 5-star hotel on the peninsula at the southern end of the beach will cater to high-income visitors to Vizag.
In contrast, the proposed growth framework for the northern zone builds on the existing “IT City” to create a vibrant, mixed-use seaside town. The residents are anticipated to be mostly members of the “creative class” that work in IT, research and development, education, and related fields that require highly skilled workers. The area in the valley in between the ridges and the sea will be developed as medium-to-lower-density housing, and will include local retail and services.
The area will be pedestrian and bicyclist-friendly, and will incorporate high-quality public spaces. Infill housing would allow residents to travel short distances to the “knowledge industry” jobs in the IT City and in nearby Madhurawada. The area along the shoreline will be developed for entertainment uses. The dunes and beach on the east side of Ocean Drive will be preserved as a “no build” area, set aside for public access and use.
Rushikonda naturally divides into several distinct zones, each of which could develop its own distinct land uses that would accommodate different functions and activities.
At the southern end, beginning at Rushikonda Point, the existing hospitality and tourism uses could be augmented with additional hospitality and entertainment options on a similar scale, using the Beach Road as a retail and dining “corniche” that connects the beachfront and beachfront views with hospitality options and a mix of uses. This area could capitalize on beachfront development for tourism and recreation, and provide a mix of uses, extending out to the natural greenway to the ocean. Beyond this area, it is recommended that development be less dense.
Town Centre South: The “College Town”
Across the Beach Road, a mixed-use area will build on the presence of GITAM University and existing university housing to support tourism development. A mix of uses will be located on existing major roads, with a denser block layout and some mid-rise (G+4) development. Public open space (intentionally identified for active use) and natural features would be preserved to form natural edges. These greenways and topography would support the denser development to the north of GITAM. A new neighbourhood centre with local retail and services can be located inland, away from Ocean Drive. This area would facilitate improved transportation throughout the region, with enhanced linkages to Madhurawada, Mudasarlova Valley, and other inland areas.
Town Centre North: Live/Work/Play by the Sea
To the north of the natural greenway area, Rushikonda would be developed at a lower density, but with a similar character, with a defined block network and a centre of activity away from Ocean Road. While the waterfront would continue to be a point of reference and a commercial zone, tourism options would be more limited. The presence of existing IT and “creative class” employment provides a basis for the continued development of “knowledge industry” and IT jobs, with the addition of residential options that might attract the employees of these industries. While still compact, this area would be lower-density that the southern area, (G+1 to G+3), and the grid and site lines would be strongly oriented towards the coast. Leveraging the higher incomes and associated expectations of workers and residents, this area would develop a more modern, “higher end,” exclusive feel. A neighbourhood centre could be developed around a common park or plaza inland from the beach.
Local Development Strategy
The Rushikonda area framework suggests the following local development strategies:
Critical to supporting the development of Rushikonda is the recognition that the area’s ecological assets provide significant value, and should therefore be protected. In particular, development should be extremely limited along the ridges, and beachfront development should be very sensitive to the environment, especially water sector and green infrastructure networks.
Guidelines supporting appropriate building use and height should be developed and enforced. Additionally, a high-level architectural character for the area should be established and implemented. This would support a sense of character and of place that would help attract employees and residents.
Supporting core infrastructure should be designed to support the anticipated development density, be environmentally sensitive, and meet the standard of its anticipated users.
Development partners that have specific experience in the desired development type should be identified, and tax incentives and tax increment financing (TIF) tools should be evaluated as a way to attract and secure desired partners.