New Delhi: As many as 25 firms are competing for the redevelopment of one of the hottest pieces of land in the heart of New Delhi’s diplomatic area, Chankyapuri—a 2-acre plot that housed the legendary Chankaya cinema which closed down a while ago.
The theatre complex will make way for a modern multiplex and commercial project. According to information available with Mint, 25 companies have expressed an interest to bid for the conversion of the theatre complex. The list of interested companies includes big names such as DLF Ltd, MGF Developments Ltd, Omaxe Ltd, Parsvnath Developers Ltd and other real estate developers such as the AEZ Group of Companies and DS Constructions Ltd. All these firms confirmed they had bid for the project.
Expecting change: Chankaya cinema in New Delhi. The 2-acre theatre complex will make way for a modern multiplex and commercial project. (Sanjeev Verma / HT)
MGF Developments, one of the largest shopping mall developers in the country, has partnered with the Anil Ambani-controlled Adlabs Cinemas to bid for the redevelopment of the theatre.
“The bidding process is still on,” said Tushar Dhingra, chief operating officer, Adlabs Cinemas. “We are excited to be part of the bidding. Chanakya is a great location.” Dhingra declined to give further details about the project.
An MGF spokesperson confirmed that it has partnered with Adlabs for the project.
Sites rarely come up for bids in south Delhi, which is easily the most sought after and expensive neighbourhood in the Capital. The municipality that governs it, New Delhi Municipal Corporation or NDMC, is unique to that area and does not oversee the rest of the city. Chanakyapuri, in particular, is considered one of the most affluent areas in Delhi because it houses most diplomatic missions and homes and international schools and has among New Delhi’s widest roads and best maintained parks and public spaces.
Land in prime locations of the city even in adjoining areas such as south Delhi has been known to be auctioned at exorbitant prices. In April, Hotel Leela Venture picked up a 3-acre plot shelling out more than Rs200 crore an acre in south Delhi in an auction by National Buildings Construction Corp.
Chanakya cinema, among the best known cinemas in the Capital, opened in 1970, premiering Raj Kapoor’s classic movie Mera Naam Joker. It grew into a popular hangout for students with the popular eatery Nirulas operating in the complex.
But some years ago the complex, owned by NDMC, got embroiled in a legal dispute with the operators of the cinema. After five years of court battle, NDMC won its case with the cinema’s operators, Aggarwal and Modi Enterprises, and got court orders to raze the building and construct a multiplex in its place before the 2010 Commonwealth Games to be held in Delhi. Following a Supreme Court order, the theatre finally closed on 27 December 2007 with the curtains closing on the Hindi movie Tare Zameen Par.
While refusing to share details, Anurag Goyal, director, projects, for NDMC confirmed that the agency had received about 25 responses from developers. “It is a little premature to say how many concessionaires are going to be qualified for the bidding stage that will begin shortly,” Goyal said. He declined to give more details but added the bid process is being conducted in accordance with a 2007 Planning Commission recommendation.
Another official who was close to the process confirmed that the shortlisting of bidders would be completed within the next 10 days; the official did not wish to be identified because he isn’t authorized to speak with the media. Real estate consultants say the bid price for the Chanakya cinema site could set records.
“It is difficult to put a number to it without knowing the parameters on which the bidding will be done,” said Anshuman Magazine, managing director of real estate consultant CB Richard Ellis. “The location of the theatre is outstanding. There are very few locations in Delhi which are accessible from everywhere—from south Delhi, from Gurgaon. That is why the interest is there as the catchment area is quite large,” he said.
Gurgaon is a suburb to the south of Delhi, populated by information technology firms and young professionals.
Rahul Chandran contributed to this story.