Aspinwall House sale talks fail; DLF to lease it out for Biennale

The state government had, apparently, planned to acquire the property, built in 1867 and spread over 3.69 acres, through the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board.

Published: 08th December 2022 06:47 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th December 2022 06:47 AM   |  A+A-

Ernakulam District Collector Renu Raj interacts with Turkish artist Alper Aydin at Aspinwall House, the main venue of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in Fort Kochi.(Photo | A Sanesh)

Express News Service

KOCHI: The much-anticipated acquisition of Aspinwall House, a key venue of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB), from DLF has come unstuck with the real-estate company backing out. According to sources, talks faltered over price. The state government had, apparently, planned to acquire the property, built in 1867 and spread over 3.69 acres, through the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (Kiifb). The New Delhi-based company has however agreed to lease out the property to the state government, P B Nooh, Director of Kerala Tourism, told TNIE.

There has been a long-standing demand for a permanent venue for the conduct of the Biennale. The government published an acquisition notice in 2018. But it lapsed following a disagreement over price. Though more talks ensued, they too ended in stalemate.

It is learnt that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had asked KMB organisers to ensure that DLF provides the venue for the fifth edition of the four-month-long art exhibition-cum-festival which begins on December 12. Simultaneously, officials were directed to proceed with negotiations on the asking price. DLF had provided the space free of cost for the first four editions.

According to former Kochi Mayor K J Sohan, the Aspinwall building was the headquarters of Ms Aspinwall & Co. “Aspinwall became a public limited company in 1956, with financial participation of the erstwhile Travancore royal family. When, in 1971, its English owners offered to sell their remaining holding in the company, the royal family acquired the controlling stake. A quarter of a century ago, Aspinwall House was sold to DLF and the headquarters of Aspinwall & Co Ltd was shifted to Edapally,” he said.

The government had taken into consideration the demand for a permanent venue and approached DLF, Nooh said. “DLF had at first agreed to the sale. Later, however, they backed out, saying they were ready to lease out the property. The government is now proceeding with steps to lease the property,” he added.

DLF is believed to be seeking around `100 crore for the property. But it may have difficulty finding a buyer as the location of the plot lends it unattractive. A part of the property falls within the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) and being a heritage property, new construction is virtually impossible. Moreover, the state government owns 1.29 acres of land surrounding the property, which can complicate any expansion plans.


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp