Media & Events
Cloud-kisser on Chowringhee – The Times of India, 8th Dec, 2012
KOLKATA: The city's maiden skyscraper is finally underway. Located on the venerable Chowringhee, the highrise boulevard that shaped Kolkata's distinct skyline, the super-structure will be more than twice as tall as South City towers.

Christened 'The 42', the 245-metre-tall building on 42B Chowringhee that once belonged to the Maharaja of Darbhanga is a super-luxury residential project. According to Mani Group CEO Sanjay Jhunjhunwala, who is leading a consortium of four groups to develop the landmark, "The 42, like Dubai's Burj Khalifa, will be the conversation-maker for Kolkata". Alcove and Diamond groups, Kolkata, and Sattva group, Bangalore, make the quartet.

Though the skyscraper's height will be equivalent to an 80-storied building, The 42 will be 62 stories tall, housing 58 bungalow apartments stacked one over the other. The first four stories will make up the lobby and three service floors. There will be a six-level car park for 350 cars and each apartment will get six parking slots.

Hafeez Contractor, the architect, feels The 42 will be an iconic structure. "In Kolkata, one is unlikely to get an address more premium than 42B Chowringhee, overlooking the Hooghly, the Maidan, Victoria Memorial, St Paul's Cathedral and Birla Planetarium. It is a picture perfect view, the best one can get in the city," said Jhunjhunwala.

Each floor will house one lavish apartment. Since the Mani Group is also constructing the upscale hotel JW Marriott on EM Bypass, it will also offer the option of fully-furnished bungalows in the sky. While the building will be a neck-wringer for pedestrians measuring it up from street level, it is a huge engineering and technology challenge given the soft alluvial soil and the scale of construction within a confined space between the Tata Centre and Jeevan Sudha buildings. "We have roped in the best national and international consultants to guide us," the Mani Group head said.

Foundation piling began two-and-a-half months ago as per specifications provided by structural and civil engineers at Jadavpur University and IIT-Mumbai. Callison Architects of the US is providing the foundation design. ITD Cementation that is doing the 55-metre piling work will do the foundation as well.

The tower contract is likely to be a toss-up between L&T and Shapoorji Pallonji. Hitech construction technology like system formwork from Peri Germany that enables hydraulic-operated construction platform shutters to move up automatically.

The exterior of the building will be all concrete with no brickwork. The construction cost is pegged at Rs 300 crore and apartments could sell for Rs 18,000-20,000/sq ft.

The genesis of the 3.5-acre project goes back to 1993 when Amarnath Shroff, a former partner of Diamond group and current chief of Alcove, purchased around five bighas that belonged to the Maharaja of Darbhanga from the high court. The Diamond Group later bought two other contiguous plots. Amalgamation and civic sanctions proved tough. The Mani group and Sattva group entered the picture three years ago to give shape to the project that had seen several twists and turns. Shroff split with partner Shiv Kajaria to form Alcove. Initially, Grand Hyatt hotel was proposed at the site, followed by an office tower with a roof-top helipad before finally deciding on the high-end.

"Since space relaxation that was granted to the project by the previous board was withdrawn, we decided to comply with every norm in the statute and redesigned the project. Now that construction has begun, we expect the foundation to be completed by February when the project will be launched. The first resident is expected to move in prior to 2015 Diwali," Jhunjhunwala added.