Landmark reconstruction hits a heritage block

The resurrection of the famed Hotel Sea Rock,15 years after it closed,has hit a roadblock again.

Written by Shalini Nair | Mumbai | Published: February 8, 2009 3:47 am

The resurrection of the famed Hotel Sea Rock,15 years after it closed,has hit a roadblock again. This time around,the Heritage Committee has kept the proposal for the hotel’s reconstruction in abeyance until a clarification is received from the State Government’s Archaeology & Museums Department. The 440-room five-star hotel that flanks the sea at the tip of Bandra Bandstand,has been out of business since it was wrecked in the Mumbai serial bomb blasts of 1993.

The hotel had recently applied for heritage clearance to bring down the existing 55 metre-high structure and construct a structure with twice the height: 103 metres. The clearance is mandatory as the hotel is situated within 100 mts from the Grade-I heritage site of Bandra Fort. Areas up to 100 metres from monuments come under prohibited areas and up to 200 meters regulated areas.

“No development is permitted within 100 metres of any monument preserved by the State Archaeology Department or by the Archaeology Survey of India. A part of the open space on the Sea Rock premises comes within 100 metres from the Bandra Fort even though the footprint of the structure is outside 100 metres. There is no clarity on whether development can be allowed in such cases,” said Heritage Committee chief D K Afzalpurkar. The committee last week visited the hotel site,following which Afzalpurkar is planning to write to the State Archaeology Department.

“We have made an application for heritage clearance as the footprint of the hotel is beyond 100 metres of the fort,” said Suresh Nanda,chairman of the Delhi-based Claridges Group of Hotels that owns Sea Rock. He clarified that the increased height of the new structure is based on the State Government’s recent proposal to give an additional floor space index of 3.5 to all star hotels in the suburbs. “We are yet to get a Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance. Once all these are over,the new hotel with be ready within two-and-a-half years,” said Nanda.

Just last month,the Indian Hotels Company Limited,which owns the Taj Land’s End located bang opposite Sea Rock,had inked a deal with Claridges Group for working together on the reconstruction process. Nanda said that an earlier deal with the international hotel brand Mandarin Oriental expired as various permissions for the reconstruction did not come through on time.

“This time we have decided that Taj Land’s End and Sea Rock hotel would compliment each other instead of competing. Our hotel is already a landmark due to its location,the new structure will have a modern design keeping with the future vision of Mumbai,” said Nanda.

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