By Jude Njoku
The Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning, Mr Toyin Ayinde, weekend, laid the foundation stone to flag off the construction of a N5 billion shopping mall located within the expansive Golden Tullip Hotel complex in the Festac -Amuwo-Odofin axis.
The mall which is being developed by Messrs UACN Property Development Company, UPDC PLC, would be known as Festival Mall. Mr. Ayinde, a Town planner, eulogised the company for embarking upon the project which would have positive multiplier effects on the neighbourhood. He said his ministry has made building plans approval faster as a way of encouraging such projects to spring up in Lagos.
The Chairman of the UPDC who is also the group Managing Director of UAC Plc, Mr. Larry Ettah gave an insight into why the company embarked upon the project. “When UPDC acquired Durbar hotel in 2002 under the privatization programme of the Federal government, our goal was to take over an edifice that was once a national pride and re-create it as a tourist destination that will reshape the entire landscape of Amuwo-Odofin and indeed Lagos state,” he said.
This desire, he said, was partly achieved in July 2011, when Golden Tullip Hotel consisting of 349 rooms and a conference centre was commissioned. According to him, an additional 120 rooms will be added to the hotel in due course.
Mr Ettah stressed the resolve of the company to create a first class mixed development comprising offices, residences, shopping and complimentary recreational facilities within the expansive hotel complex.
His words:” In line with UPDC’s mission of creating comfortable living and business environments for our customers, we believe that Festival Mall will provide delightful shopping and entertainment experiences to the teeming populace of Lagos especially the residents of Festac Town, Amuwo Odofin, Mile 2, Okotta, Isolo and Satellite Town. The complex, when completed, will also generate further employment opportunities for thousands of people beside reshaping the socio-economic landscape of this area of the state”.
In his own remarks, UPDC’s Managing Director, Mr. Hakeem Ogunniran said the project which has 18 months completion deadline, is sited on a 3.3 hectares (33,000 square metres) parcel of land within the premises of Golden Tullip Hotel.
The gross building area stands at 12,500 square metres while the gross lettable space is 10,900 square metres. Already two anchor tenants – Messrs Shoprite and Silverbird, have been confirmed by the developers, after what Ogunniran described as a careful selection process.
Giving further details of the project, Ogunniran said the Mall would have 850 car parking spaces, water treatment plant and alternative power supply. “Our vision is to create a mixed-use environment at this site. We are looking at real estate and how to unlock the real estate value of this environment… Our desire is to create a one -stop- shop for shopping and entertainment. The project has 18 months of construction period, so we intend to open for shopping by god’s grace by November 2014. We want to trade in this mall by December, 2014,” he said.
He allayed fears of delay in delivery due to paucity of funds. “You know that we are UPDC. We have just done a REIT which was highly successful and we have our own internal sources of funds for our projects, so funding is really not a problem to the glory of God. For real estate, you have to have a mixture of debt and equity. For this project, we have our own equity and we also have debt funding. For real estate, you have to leverage and the same thing we will do, may be 50 -50, that is 50 percent equity and 50 percent debt funding,” he said.