Kolkata’s Old Silver Mint to have a makeover

December 7th, 2008 - 4:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Dec 7 (IANS) Kolkata’s Old Silver Mint, a city landmark that is a crumbling symbol of Grecian architecture, is set for a makeover. Real estate company Eden, which has bagged the contract for restoring the city’s 179-year-old heritage structure, plans to construct a mint museum, an art and culture centre, a food court as well as a hotel at the site.

The company also hopes to rope in Home Minister P. Chidambaram to lay the foundation stone Monday. It hopes to complete the project by 2011.

“This project will cost us around Rs.150 crore (Rs.1.5 billion) and we will get three years’ time from the day of foundation stone laying to complete the project. We got the project in September this year,” Eden chairman Indrajit De told IANS in an interview.

The structure, on Strand Road in central Kolkata, stands within a 12.5-acre compound off the Hooghly river. It was used for minting coins and manufacturing medals and decorations before independence but fell into disuse after the facility was shut down in 1952.

The mint’s foundation was laid in March 1824 and production began Aug 1, 1829. The facade of the building was designed after the Temple of Minerva in Athens.

The palatial building stood forlorn all these years, bearing the marks of the ravages of time, till West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi took an initiative more than a year ago for revamping the edifice and reusing the vast premises adjoining it.

The premises are divided into two plots. The first plot will house a mint museum, art and culture centre and a convention centre. The open space would be used to build a food court, tea-coffee shop and a bookshop.

In the second plot, there are two existing buildings, which would be connected to convert them into a hotel.

“We will construct the hotel and give it to some company, which is into the hotel business to operate it on daily basis,” De said.

There is also space, which will be rented out as office space to various companies.

Along with Eden, the other prospective bidders who wanted to develop this project were CESC Ltd, East India Hotels, Hyatt and Ramky Infrastructure.

“We will own the property for 30 years. After that, it would return to the government of India,” De said.

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