Chennai’s Original Skyscraper Changes Hands
TIAM House on Rajaji Salai is probably the first building that strikes your eye when you exit from the Beach Railway Station. This seven-story building belonging to the Murugappa Group is located bang opposite the Railway Station. The landscape of Rajaji Salai has largely remained intact with the Burma Bazaar on one side and Dare House, HSBC, Indian Bank GPO, SBI and UTI on the opposite side. Parrys was the original business hub as most of the banks, shipping companies, law firms and stockbrokers were located in the area. A short visit to the area would clearly reveal that most of the buildings are old and the streets are narrow and congested. In recent times, Parrys has been losing its relevance as a hub of business activity because lot of the new age businesses decided to establish themselves in other parts of the city. Because of some of the abovesaid reasons, the recent sale of TIAM House comes as no surprise.
The city-based Murugappa Group, which owned the building, has sold the seven-storey structure to Jesus Calls, a missionary and welfare organisation, for an undisclosed sum.
The building on Rajaji Salai had been the headquarters of the Murugappa Group since 1958. In 2002, the group decided to sell TIAM House following a consolidation exercise, which saw surplus office space.
Originally called Khaleeli Building, it was offered to the Murugappa Group by brothers Ameen and Khaleeli.
Khaleeli Building thus became the TI Group’s in 1956 and on its site was raised the city’s first fully air-conditioned tower block, with its owners moving into it from Armenian Street in 1958.
The change of the north beach skyline, dominated by classical style structures such as the General Post Office and SBI headquarters, began then.
This dated article in The Hindu traces the history of TIAM House. It has come to light that Jesus Calls paid more than Rs. 100 Crores for this heritage building. Jesus Calls is run by DGS Dhinakaran and his son Paul Dhinakaran. They are the ones behind the Karunya Group of Educational Institutions as well. Let’s hope that the new owners don’t demolish the old structure and build a taller skyscraper in the same location.