Bought more than a decade ago to pave the way for a mega hotel-cum- convention centre, the Sea Rock project of Tata Group-promoted Indian Hotels has been in a limbo for years.
Located at Bandra's upmarket Bandstand area, the redevelopment plans hinge on the development of infrastructure around the property.
"We know it is not an easy project because it is under the CRZ regulations. We are hoping that a fair view (by the authorities) can accelerate the development. But having said that, we will only do it if the infrastructure is also there because if there is a big event happening at Lands End, the traffic gets locked at Lilavati (Hospital)," Puneet Chhatwal, managing director and CEO, Indian Hotels Company, told Moneycontrol.
With nearly 500 rooms and eight event spaces, the Taj Lands End is one of the biggest hotels in the suburbs of Mumbai. Plans were afoot to construct a new building where the multi-storied Sea Rock once stood and thus have a mega property with more than 1,000 rooms, multiple event spaces and convention centres.
The redevelopment could also see addition of more floors to the Lands End itself as the Floor Space Index (FSI) granted to the property is not fully utilised by Indian Hotels Company. Upon completion the property will be the single biggest in India.
"A 200 meters drive to the hotel takes half an hour now. We have to look at the development as a whole; may be how we have the sea link (Bandra Worli Sea Link) and how we have can have the hotel having a good connect with the roads, trains or metros so that the hotel also functions normally otherwise we can build a similar size property plus X, since we have not fully utilized the FSI for Lands End. If we do that how do we get here that’s something we should work with the authorities," added Chhatwal.
The Sea Rock hotel, which became defunct after a bomb exploded on the 18th floor in 1993, was razed to the ground a year after it was take over in 2009 by IHCL through a subsidiary company. IHCL which runs four hotel brands – Taj, Vivanta, Seleqtions and Ginger – invested Rs 680 crore to buy 85 percent stake in the company that owned Sea Rock.
IHCL now intends to buy out the balance of equity for which it is holding talks with the stakeholders.
"This is one of our very important initiatives. We tried to take approximately 100 percent control of it. About 15 percent is with the partner and we have disclosed that we would be taking 100 percent of the stake. We are in advanced stages of negotiations and after that we would like to commence construction," added Chhatwal.
At the AGM, Chairman N Chandrsekaran had said that IHCL had made 'good progress in securing approvals for the Sea Rock project barring the environmental clearance.
"First, we need to have the shareholder’s agreement and then the authorities and we remain very optimistic that in due course and I don’t mean 3 or 6 months may be a year or year and a half of proper planning and designing and we will be able to resolve the issues and move forward," said Chhatwal.