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Ackruti Group's Proposed 77-story Five Star Hotel Set
to Change Face of Prabhadevi in Mumbai

By Ketaki Ghoge, Hindustan Times, New DelhiMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Aug. 08, 2010--MUMBAI -- The proposed 77 storey five star hotel and business centre to be developed by Ackruti Group at Prabhadevi will come up on a plot earlier reserved for industrial use and recreational ground.

The 5.3 acre prime real estate plot earlier housed Hindustan Spinning and Weaving Mills. It will now get a swank new sea facing hotel with 630 service apartments, 320 rooms and 84 business centres.

The proposed hotel will be the third five star in central Mumbai, apart from ITC Grand Central in Parel and Four Seasons Hotel in Worli.

"It is one of the biggest hospitality projects in the city. The emphasis is on service apartments," said Vimal Shah, managing director of Ackruti City. But the project was cleared only after changing land use norms last year.

It got its final clearance in July last week from the Centre's expert appraisal committee on Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) and infrastructure.

The minutes of the Centre's EAC meeting released this week says that clearance to the project is given on the condition that it confirms to local regulation on land use.

The developer had sought change in land use before state authorities arguing for classification as residential zone since a hotel does not come under permissible activity in industrial zone.

For a developer, a five star hotel project in CRZ is commercially viable because one can get more vertical development rights.

Five-star hotels are allowed Floor Space Index of up to five in the city. The Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) the state body that appraises all projects affected by Coastal Regulatory Zone had given its approval to the proposed hotel in June 2009 and recommended it to the Centre. The permission was given by MCZMA after some officials argued that the city of Mumbai's status needed more hotel rooms.

The minutes of the MCZMA's meeting held in June 2009 states that officials also argued that no new industries are allowed in CRZ and if the plot would have remained vacant, there was a chance of the plot being encroached on thus leading to further burden on the coastal eco system.

"Such changes in land use are being made regularly to facilitate construction and commercial projects. The Development Plan is rarely adhered to," admitted a senior bureaucrat.

The Urban Development Department had also given its in principal approval to change the land use.

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Copyright (c) 2010, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

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