Thursday 18th of July 2024

Hotel Sheraton stands on compliance

Morning Mirror Desk »

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The 28-storey five-star hotel Sheraton – a landmark in the city’s Banani area – is a joint project of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Borak Real Estate Ltd, and the property has been built following every regulation.

After vetting and approval process carried out by BUET and the then Dhaka City Corporation, Borak secured clearance for construction of 30 storeys from every relevant government agency including the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives.

Despite readily available facts, national daily the Prothom Alo recently published a news article on Sheraton, presenting ill-motivated, confusing, incomplete, and untrue information to tarnish Borak’s image.

It should be noted that the Borak Real Estate had contacted the city corporation in writing on multiple occasions, urging them to take over their share in the Sheraton Hotel since 2015, but the city corporation is yet to do so.

The company wrote separately to Local Government Division secretary on April 30, 2023, LGRD minister on March 31, 2021, and Prime Minister’s Office on July 16, 2018 seeking to resolve the matter, but to no avail. Shares of this establishment were allotted, and construction moved forward as per regulations.

Under a competition held in 2004, the then Dhaka City Corporation awarded Borak “Letter of Award” in 2006 for submitting the best offer under RFP, and with pre-approval from LGRD ministry.

Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) vetted the structural design of a 30-storey building, which was then approved by city corporation authorised officer (chief engineer) as per regulations.

Borak Real Estate then built the 28-storey Sheraton on 60 katha land owned by the DNCC. Later, in 2022, the establishment’s as-built and structural design was vetted yet again, and handed over to the DNCC.

Shares distributed properly
As per the terms of the agreement, the DNCC owns all the common areas of the project and 55 per cent (net 30 per cent + common 25 per cent) of the overall building space. Borak Real Estate owns 45 per cent of the overall building area.

This clearly shows that the deal between Borak and DNCC is in no way an uneven deal. It should be noted that the city corporation had a lower amount of shares in their other projects when the Sheraton deal was signed.

For example, the DNCC owns only 25 per cent of Gulshan-2 – a valuable area in Dhaka. Besides, the city corporation owns 22 per cent of commercial zone Motijheel’s City Centre.

In the case of multi-storied buildings in 2004-2005, the ownership ratio of the building used to be 20 per cent – 25 per cent for a land owner and 75 per cent – 80 per cent for an enterprise or developer. It is not logical to compare initiatives that took place 20 years ago in 2023.

DNCC not taking share
Borak Real Estate has been repeatedly requesting the DNCC since 2015 to take over their share in the Sheraton Hotel. But the city corporation is yet to take any action in this regard.

This delay is not only causing Borak to incur massive losses, but the DNCC too is losing a large volume of revenue. The real estate company, on multiple occasions, had written to the DNCC in this regard.

In one such instance, Borak sent a letter to the DNCC on September 28, 2015, informing them that the company had lost Tk 400 crore, and demanded compensation.

Allegations of approval irregularities untrue
After a proper vetting and approval process carried out by BUET and the city corporation respectively, Borak Real Estate secured clearance for construction of 30 storeys from the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), Fire Service and Civil Defence, TITAS, Department of Environment, DESCO, and Dhaka WASA in 2007.

In 2011, the then CEO of DNCC sent a letter to the Local Government secretary stating that the construction of 30 floors – an increase from 15 – has been approved by the then mayor Annisul Huq.

Annisul took the initiative to resolve any outstanding issues between the two parties through discussion and informed Borak Real Estate in writing on May 31, 2015. Unfortunately the matter remained unresolved at that time due to the untimely demise of the mayor.

On November 2, 2020, the Ministry of Local Government issued a letter seeking to know the progress of the 30 per cent – 70 per cent unfinished portion of Sheraton – which was owned by the DNCC.

Realising the importance of the matter, incumbent DNCC Mayor Atiqul Islam formed a committee to discuss the matter with Borak on multiple occasions.

Following the initiative, DNCC and Borak Real Estate Ltd agreed to give 40 per cent share to the city corporation instead of the previous 30 per cent distribution of the 15th to 28th floor of Sheraton.

On January 7 this year, in the 18th and 19th board meeting of the DNCC second council, it approved the 40 per cent/60 per cent share distribution of Sheraton’s 15th to 28th floors. So the DNCC is getting 40 per cent share instead of the previous 30 per cent.

The DNCC informed the Local Government Division about this move on March 2 this year.

Both the DNCC and Borak Real Estate Ltd – under existing rules and regulations, safeguarding their own interests and by carrying out proper scrutiny – finalised their shares.

‘DNCC at mercy of Borak’ untrue
The allegation that the ‘DNCC is at the mercy of Borak Real Estate’ is not true. Borak has been writing to the DNCC since 2015, urging them to take their shares in the Sheraton Hotel.

For example, the delay in receipt of the due share of the City Corporation was also brought to the notice of the LGRD minister on March 31, 2021.

‘Shares allotted amid height issue’ untrue
When Borak Real Estate Pvt Ltd started building Sheraton, it was under the Tejgaon Airport Zone. There was no height restriction after the then government declared the airport abandoned

The city corporation had given Borak approval of a 30-storeyed building at that time. After the construction of the building was completed, the city corporation placed it under the Shahjalal Airport.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) then set a height limit of 201 feet. CAAB however gave a height limit of 1,552 feet in Purbachal near the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.

So it is not reasonable to have any objection to the 28-storeyed Sheraton building in Banani, which is seven kilometers away from the airport. It should be noted that the issue of height is at the stage of reconsideration under the basis of current reality.

Sheraton Hotel location
Borak built the hotel on the specific place of their share which is located on floors from 12 to 28. The DNCC’s portion of the building spans from 4th to 11th floor. The city corporation may take over their share at any time.

It should be noted that none of the Sheraton Hotel’s assets are located in the area belonging to the DNCC.

The current reality
The project is jointly owned by Borak Real Estate and Dhaka North City Corporation. The share distribution process of the 15th to 28th floors of Sheraton has already been approved by the two parties in a DNCC board meeting with the mayor in chair.

The DNCC’s shares in the project have increased from 30 per cent to 40 per cent.

It should be noted that no parties have ever raised any question regarding the allotment of shares up to the 14th floor of Sheraton.

The DNCC had informed the Local Government Division about this decision through a letter on March 2 this year. The DNCC can take its 40 per cent share (from the 4th to the 11th floor) at any time.

It is now waiting to realise their due assets worth about Tk 500 crore. In fact, the DNCC is losing crores of revenue as it has not been receiving its due share for a long period.

It should be noted that Prothom Alo previously published a confusing and ill-motivated report on the same project back in 2014. That report too could not present any verifiable truth. That article hindered and disrupted the timely implementation of that project.

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