May 3, 2008

Antilia -- still underway

anitlia Mukesh ambani new building details

Antilia, the under-construction 27-storey dream house of industrialist Mukesh Ambani at Mumbai’s Malabar Hill, is safe, at least for the time being, as the Supreme Court on Friday refused to interfere with an interim order of the Bombay high court. The HC, in October last year, had stayed a Maharashtra government decision to cancel sale of the land—a 4,500 sq metre plot on which Antilia, considered to be the world’s largest and most expensive home with a speculated price tag of $2 billion, is being constructed—on the ground that it was Wakf property which could not be sold.

The state government wanted the Wakf Board to repossess the land which originally belonged to Currimbhoy Orphanage Trust. The HC, while staying cancellation of the sale by Wakf Board, had directed listing the matter along with other cases relating to repossession of Wakf properties. Dismissing the appeal against the HC order, an apex court bench comprising Justices H K Sema and Markandey Katju said it was only an interim order and it would be proper to await the final decision in the case.

It was alleged that the land was bought by Reliance group company Antilia Commercial for Rs 21.05 crore as against a market price of Rs 400 crore. The land, given to Maharashtra State Wakf Board in 1957 by Jivaji Raje Scindia, was used by a trust set up to look after destitutes and orphans belonging to the Khoja Mohammedan community.

The gigantic building plan has the world gaping. According to Forbes magazine, which tracks billionaires and their obsessions, the new Ambani residence will be over 550 feet high with 400,000 sq feet of interior space. After four years of feverish construction, the project scheduled to be completed in January next year.

“The only remotely comparable high-rise property currently in the market is the $70 million triplex penthouse at the Pierre Hotel in New York, designed to resemble a French chateau, and climbing 525 feet in the air,’’ Forbes said in its report titled ‘Inside the World’s First Billion-Dollar Home’. The sale of the land in 2004 to Antilia Commercial and developed by Saphire Realtors, Rockline Constructions and Baun Foundation had raised vociferous protests from the Muslim community leading to the state asking the Wakf Board to cancel the deal.