KARACHI, March 29: The fate of Hyatt Regency project is likely to be decided shortly as some influential parties have shown interest in the purchase of the project, offered for sale by the Privatisation Commission.

Located on an important intersection opposite hotel Pearl Continental, the project became controversial since the start of work on it in the early 70s.

As the structure remained incomplete and became an eyesore, the task force on economic revival of Sindh some time back recommended that the project be revived or demolished as all such abandoned projects ware giving an ugly look as these ware a manifestation of an adverse image to investors.

The project was conceived in the early 70s by Happy Minwalla to give the city a new five-star hotel on the site of present Metropole Hotel but with the induction of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as Prime Minister Rafi Muneer got partnership in the project in exchange for facilitation of loan funding and relocation of hotel at a site owned by the railways.

With Mumtaz Bhutto as Chief Minister of Sindh and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as Prime Minister of Pakistan, Rafi Muneer, being a close friend of both, managed to proceed with construction without a formal/registered title of the land on which construction was taking place.

The proposed transaction was for Raza Associates (A Rafi Muneer Co) to obtain the land on a lease of Rs 270,000 per year. The land was, in turn, sold to Karachi Properties (the holding company of Hyatt Regency Hotel in Karachi) co-owned by Happy Minwalla and Muneer for a sum of Rs 10 million.

With over Rs 130 million already disbursed by nationalised banks, a lot of equipment and crockery already arrived, the building structure quite advanced, all before the formal registration of the land transaction and the government changed in 1977 and General Jehandad, the then Governor of Sindh, stopped the construction and put Happy Minwalla and Rafi Muneer behind the bars for irregularities related to the hotel.

Subsequently while interest on loans kept on mounting, transactions were reportedly made into different names from time to time.

The parties, which appeared interested in taking over the project and turn it into a most modern five-start hotel included the operators of Serena hotels.

There are also proposals that the project be turned into an office or education complex, or a hospital be established instead.

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