Aspinwall House building in Fort Kochi
Aspinwall House building in Fort KochiPhoto | Express

DLF in talks with multiple entities to sell iconic Aspinwall in Kochi

The spokesperson of DLF refuted reports that the Indian Coast Guard is all set to buy the property, which is a major venue of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale.

KOCHI: The Delhi-based DLF Group is learnt to be in talks with multiple prospective buyers to sell the iconic Aspinwall House building in Fort Kochi, even as the fund-starved Kerala government stays away from bidding for the 180-year-old heritage property.

“We are in talks with multiple prospective buyers. Once we arrive at a reportable event, we will disclose it in compliance with our obligation,” a DLF spokesperson told TNIE.

The spokesperson also refuted reports that the Indian Coast Guard is all set to buy the property, which is a major venue of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale.

Aspinwall House building in Fort Kochi
Aspinwall House transfer to Coast Guard will ruin heritage charm says Kochi Mayor

DLF’s official response comes after Kochi Mayor M Anilkumar said on May 24 that the group was looking to sell the Aspinwall property to the Coast Guard. “Handing over Aspinwall House to the Coast Guard is not ideal,” the Kochi mayor had said, pointing out that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had taken an interest personally to purchase the property for the Kerala government.

“DLF’s decision to sell Aspinwall House for a higher price to the Coast Guard is in line with its narrow commercial interests,” Anilkumar had said.

According to sources, Lulu Group founder Yusuffali M A could be among the players keen to acquire Aspinwall House. Interestingly, Yusuffali was involved in another real estate deal with DLF in Kochi. In 2015, the Lulu Group purchased DLF’s 3.79 acres at Marine Drive for Rs 111 crore.

Yusuffali is also a big patron of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, contributing an average of Rs 2-3 crore for every edition of the contemporary art exhibition.

A Lulu spokesperson, however, said there are no immediate plans to buy the famed property. “Right now, we don’t have any such plans,” he said.

Meanwhile, a source with the Coast Guard said the talks with DLF are in the early stages. “It is true that DLF has plans to sell the property to the Coast Guard. However, the discussion is in its initial stage,” said a Coast Guard official.

‘Deal dropped after pvt firm raised the value of building’

A few years ago, the state government had plans to acquire Aspinwall House through the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB). Though discussions were held, they did not lead to a closure.

“The government had attempted to buy the property from the DLF Group. As per the negotiations, the deal was agreed for Rs 60 crore. The government moved ahead with the acquisition paperwork and issued a notification, but the private firm backed out and raised the value to Rs 80 crore. Thus the deal was dropped,” said a source at the Chief Minister’s Office.

The 2.44-acre land on which the Aspinwall building stands and the adjoining 1.26 acres of the Cabral Yard belong to DLF. The area also has 1.26 acres of government land.

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