By Kingsley Adegboye
When UACN Property Development Company, UPDC Plc acquired the former Durbar Hotel, Festac, Lagos in 2002 under the privatisation programme of the Federal Government, the company’s objective according to the Managing Director of UPDC Plc, Mr. Hakeem Ogunniran, was to turn the abandoned hotel and its premises into a tourist destination that will reshape the entire landscape of Amuwo-Odofin, Lagos.
Today, that dream of making the location a tourist destination has been fully actualised with Golden Tulip Hotel consisting of 349 rooms and conference centre fully operational since July 2011, the delivery of the N5 billion Festival Mall about nine months ago, and the commissioning of 198-unit Festac Residences last week.
Speaking during the commissioning of the Residences last week, Ogunniran said “For us at UACN Property Development Company (UPDC) Plc, today is an important milestone in the process of creating a unique real estate in this part of Lagos. When we acquired this place, it had been abandoned for almost 8 to 10 years, only the former Durbar Hotel stood here. We set out with a desire to create a work, live and play environment in this place and we are glad that with the commissioning of The Residences apartments, that dream has become a reality.
“Our plan was to create a node for hospitality, residence, shopping and entertainment. We have almost completed this process with the Golden Tulip Hotel, Festival Mall and now the Residences apartments. We have concluded the renovation and conversion of the third building into 198 flats of one and two Bedroom apartments. Today, we have 198 apartments which we have put in the market and we are gratified that about 50% of the units have been bought. The first set of owners are ready to move in and would be handed their keys today.
“Our partnership with Natanelflorens under a rent to own scheme has also helped to push the property into the market. We are confident that by the middle of next year this place would be fully occupied given what we have already done. We have also partnered with a major power provider to generate a 5 Megawatt IPP scheme that powers the hotel, the Mall and the Residences. We thank the Lagos State Government for its infrastructural projects that has significantly added value to the area.
Meanwhile, the state Commissioner for Housing, Gbolahan Lawal who commissioned the Residences, said Ambode’s administration will encourage private developers in the state by creating enabling environment for them to be able to meet their primary responsibility of providing housing for the citizenry particularly the low income earning groups, pointing out that government alone cannot meet the huge housing need of the people.
According to Lawal, provision of housing by private developers is in line with “Our policy to encourage the private sector utilize the underutilized government facilities and turn them into high value real estate. UPDC through its many housing projects in the state has helped to ensure investments, create jobs, enhance standard of living and is slowly changing the face of Lagos.
“Lagos state has a three million housing deficit and the government would continue to partner with the private sector to bridge that gap. Through reforms currently being undertaken in the housing ministry and improved infrastructure across the state, we would be on our way to achieving that”, the commissioner said.
The commissioner for housing who commended Oguniran and the management of UPDC Plc for embarking on the various projects of high class at Amuwo-Odofin, noted that the projects would have provided jobs for a lot of people during their construction and finishing stages, pointing out that the state government will encourage private developers to deliver more houses because housing projects will create jobs for unemployed Lagos residents particularly youths.
The Residences is an eight-storey block of flats consisting of 198 apartments comprising 154 one-bedroom and 44 two-bedroom.The block which was part of the former Durbar Hotel, was renovated into luxury apartments. Prominent facilities in the apartments include borehole and treatment plant, independent power plant, gas infrastructure, HVC cooling system, sewage treatment plant and fire-fighting sprinklers. Close-circuit television cameras CCTV is installed in each floor of the building and at the security point on the ground floor to ensure that unwanted persons do not gain access into the building.