The ambitious plan of the international hotel chain, Planet Hollywood, has come up against its first, and by far the most important, hurdle.
The Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) has rejected the hotel chain’s proposal to convert the heritage Shelleys Hotel in Colaba into a 20-storey Hollywood-themed luxury hotel.
One of the reasons given for the rejection is that Shelleys is located on a heritage precinct.
All buildings along this sea-facing stretch are, in accordance with the height rules of the Bombay Port Trust that owns the land, four storeys high.
The 20-storey hotel, according to the heritage committee, cannot be allowed to come up in such an area.
A member of the committee, requesting anonymity, said, “The height was the main issue. In the proposed plan, the height of the new hotel will match that of the new wing of the Taj hotel and, hence, cannot be allowed.”
The Taj was built when heritage rules had not yet been put in place.
MHCC chairman, Dinesh Afzalpurkar, said giving permission for the project would have set a precedent.
“The reasons they have cited for razing the structure are unacceptable. Normally, listed structures can only be razed if proved structurally unstable. Shelleys is in sound state,” Afzalpurkar said.
“Moreover, there is no dearth of luxury hotels in south Mumbai. The committee didn’t feel the need for another one at the cost of a heritage building,” Afzalpurkar added.
Sharada Dwivedi, city historian and researcher, approved of MHCC’s decision.
“The committee has taken the right decision. If this proposal was cleared, there would have been a flood of proposals citing this example and wanting clearance,” Dwivedi said.
Five years after announcing its venture into India, Planet Hollywood finally took its first concrete steps earlier this year.
Arch Millennium Corp, a Florida-based company, which has acquired the master franchise rights for the Planet Hollywood brand across India, said the delay was due to the recession, terror attacks and other factors. Planet Hollywood is a private company that has been around for 20 years.
Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore have stakes in the brand.
The project in Mumbai would have been their second, the first being Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino opened in Las Vegas in 2007.
Arch Millennium also plans to open the Planet Hollywood floating restaurant in Colaba, on a pleasure yacht. Named Oceanis, the four-level boat will have multi-cuisine restaurants, bars and coffee shops.