The state government was contemplating buying the Lincoln House - the US Consulate's sprawling property at Breach Candy - but decided against it after considering all the development restrictions.
"We were toying with the idea. As per our estimates, we think the property is worth Rs500-600 crore. But, we decided against it as the development on this plot could be severely restricted," said chief secretary Ratnakar Gaikwad.
Gaikwad had held a meeting on the issue in the state secretariat on Monday. Lincoln House is a Grade III heritage building and has been with the consulate since 1958.
The plot of around 89,792 sq feet is among the most premium real estate in the city but it falls on Coastal Regulatory Zone I and II and hence loading additional Floor Space Index (FSI) here would be problematic. In the city, FSI of 1.33 is permissible.
In CRZ I area, no development is permissible. In CRZ II, development is restricted and change in land use in not permissible under CRZ II.
Taking into account all these aspects, the state dropped its idea of considering buying the plot. "If there is restricted possibility of development then it's not viable for us," said Gaikwad.
The American consulate, on November 15, shifted to a new facility and the Bandra-Kurla Complex, with upgraded infrastructure, and expanded space for consulate operations. Owing to security reasons, it decided to put its palatial Lincoln House property up for sale and has been looking for bidders since.
Senior officials also explained that outright sale of Lincoln House would be difficult but sub letting it was permissible under the liberal lease agreement. In the case of outright purchase, the lease holder would have to deposit 50 per cent of unearned income to the owner.