Mumbai: Colaba's iconic Piccadilly shuts as 112-yr-old building shaky

112-year-old Donald House on Causeway coming apart; landlord warns all tenants to move out

The Donald House at Colaba. Pic/Atul Kamble
The Donald House at Colaba. Pic/Atul Kamble

Donald House, a 112-year-old building on Colaba Causeway housing Canon Bar, Kamats Restaurant and the iconic Piccadilly restaurant, is standing on legs that threaten to give way at any time. The landlord of this building has warned all occupants to vacate.

The iconic 70 year-old Piccadilly restaurant has has downed its shutters since the monsoon.

The Donald House, Piccadilly restaurant used to stand on the corner, it is now closed
The Donald House, Piccadilly restaurant used to stand on the corner, it is now closed

The Canon Bar though is operational with locals saying, "a lot of customers come in by late evening. This place is packed." The building seems empty except for the commercial tenants on the ground floor.

The Donald House
The Donald House

Piccadilly proprietor Pervez Buzorg says, "I have shut down my restaurant, serving Irani, Lebanese, Continental fare, which has been functioning here in the same spot, since 70 years. This building, Donald House is in a very bad state but I cannot say if it is going to collapse. There has been extensive damage to my restaurant this monsoon. Even last year, water seeped in from the third floor, this is a three-storey building, it came down to the second floor, first floor and finally to my restaurant situated on the ground floor. Before this 2017 monsoon, I told the landlord to permit me to do waterproofing at my cost. He told me, this building has been declared dilapidated, give me your restaurant premises, and I will hand them back to you as and when." Buzorg said, "I told the landlord, I cannot do that. So, he retorted: then, I cannot give you permission for waterproofing."

Also read: Mumbai: Residents and trustees fight as 108-year-old building crumbles

Read the warning
Buzorg explains his restaurant interiors were damaged this monsoon too, "We have suffered so much. I am going to re-open this restaurant, soon. Though the building may be cited as dangerous by the landlord I have yet to see a report by a structural engineer, I want to also see if there are any No Objection Certificates (NOCs) by MHADA, or the MbPT (Port Trust) or even the BMC for redevelopment. We want to co-operate with the landlord, but the building has not been looked after by the landlord. There should have been regular painting and plaster work which was not done." The landlord though says that tenants have been told to move out, and a notice on the building cites MHADA saying the building is dilapidated.

A very clear cut no nonsense notice at the building by the landlord dated May 29, 2017 says the occupants must evict the building with immediate effect, and if they ignore the notice and decide to stay on, they do so at their own cost.

Still clinging on
A number of hawkers, fruit vendors and locals hanging around, as the crowd of shoppers swells late evening say, "we have seen a glass pane falling from this building. Luckily, nobody was hurt. We also witness, some parts of the roof falling down. We will continue to hawk our wares though; we have to earn a livelihood."

There are at least four to five families that live in the quarters earlier reserved for domestic help at the back of this building. Say Sandesh Gamare and Ricky Pathak who reside in the back quarters of the building, "Where do we go? We have no alternate accommodation in the city." The landlord though dismissed Gamare and Pathak as "trespassers." (See box: The other side: The landlord speaks).

The Canon Bar employees refused to speak to the reporter, stating firmly that there was, "nobody authorized to answer queries."

You may also like to read: In Pictures: 13 iconic places in Mumbai that no longer exist

Iconic places in mumbai

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