Delhi: No takers for turning the Chandni Chowk town hall into a heritage hotel

The official said the civic body invited expression of interests from hotel operators to lease out the 150-year-old building for a period of 33 years with a minimum reserved price of 1.92 crore per month.
The imposing building that is located in the centre of Chandni Chowk, the Town Hall served as the headquarters of the erstwhile unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi. (Amal)
The imposing building that is located in the centre of Chandni Chowk, the Town Hall served as the headquarters of the erstwhile unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi. (Amal)
Updated on Oct 12, 2021 06:03 AM IST
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By Paras Singh

North Delhi Municipal Corporation’s plan to lease out the Town Hall in Chandni Chowk for running a ‘heritage hotel’ has found no takers, a senior municipal official overseeing the process said.

The official said the civic body invited expression of interests from hotel operators to lease out the 150-year-old building for a period of 33 years with a minimum reserved price of 1.92 crore per month. Tenders were issued in mid-June, almost three years after the proposal was cleared by the civic body, and the technical bids were initially expected to be opened in August.

“We have not received response from interested parties for taking the lease of the hotel and it now seems unlikely that we can move ahead with the project before the municipal elections,” the north corporation official said.

The imposing building that is located in the centre of Chandni Chowk, the Town Hall served as the headquarters of the erstwhile unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi. The construction of the Town hall started in 1860 and was completed in 1863. The building was initially known as ‘Lawrence Institute, and it housed Delhi College of Higher Studies, before it was bought by the then municipality for Rs1,35,457 in 1866.

Besides government offices, the building also had a library and a European club. After the municipality shifted its headquarters to the high-rise Civic Centre on Jawaharlal Nehru Marg between 2011-12, the Town Hall has been lying vacant.

The total area under the possession of North corporation is 13,735 sqm all of which has been on offer under this re-development project. “the complex can be divided under three sections--main building, courtyard and the press building. Since the Victorian era building uses the construction material like stones, lime plaster, burnt bricks and timber, it requires refurbishing,” official explained.

The project document states that the objective of current redevelopment project will be to provide “a complete and wholesome family experience at Town Hall” and to develop it into an attractive tourist destination.

“The complex may be used for hotel, museums, library, children’s activity rooms, auditoriums for cultural activities with historical significance, demonstration room, light and sound programme, fine dining areas, street food of India etc. It is proposed to launch it as a unique and complete family experience for citizens of Delhi and tourists so that they can become familiar with history and culture of Delhi at one place with multifarious activities. The hotel will be the most exciting experience for those who want to be part of the history and culture of Delhi as a living experience,” the document states.

Jogi Ram Jain, the standing committee chairman of north civic body said the corporation was planning to generate revenue through this project, but due to Covid pandemic the financial conditions of the prospective bidders is also very bad. “No bids were received because the condition of market is very bad. Running a museum may not be financially viable. We will explore this project afresh,” he added.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2021