Delhi’s Town Hall set to become a heritage hotel

The iconic Town Hall of Delhi, in the heart of Chandni Chowk, may soon be transformed into a heritage hotel and museum, library and a recreational centre for children. This comes after the North Delhi Municipal Corporation’s (NDMC) plan to develop the British-era building into a cultural and social heritage centre failed. The corporation has decided to go for a public-private partnership (PPP) model for the Victorian-era building after its restoration plan funded by Centre got shelved.

The Municipality has proposed to lease out the building to a private entity through a tendering process, in the standing committee meeting in May. A senior official said that the project to transform it into a centre of cultural and social heritage did not happen because of the lack of funds.

“We would like the best of the hotels in the country’s hospitality sector to bid – to run a heritage hotel in the Town Hall and they will be free to do restoration work, without changing the architecture of the building,” the official added. The proposed monthly licence fee is expected to be Rs 1.96 crore and the lease period would be 33 or even 99 years. An open tender will be brought out by NDMC, and the premise will be alloted to the highest bidder.

Not just a boutique hotel and a museum, the NDMC has also planned to build a craft baazar, a dancing fountain, a maze, light and sound programmes, street food court area, children activity area, a courtyard and sculpture garden, digital library, lecture rooms, fine dining areas in the 150-year-old Victorian mansion. The proposed museum will be dedicated to the history of Delhi and will also display a number of historical and cultural artefacts. The entire project is also expected to earn a good revenue for the corporation, that has been facing financial problems for the last few years.

The Union Tourism Ministry had, in early 2014, cleared a Rs 50 crore heritage renewal project for the building, but the fund release was subject to preparation of the detailed project report (DPR) by the NDMC.

The present-day Town Hall was initially known as Lawrence Institute and housed the Delhi College of Higher Studies. It was later bought by the municipality for Rs 135,457 in 1866 and stayed the Municipal Corporation of Delhi’s (MCD) headquarters until it trifurcated. After the trifurcation, NDMC set up its office there until it moved into the current Civic Centre in Minto Road recently.



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