Monday July 25, 2011, Homes & Property, page 31
By Chinedum Uwaegbulam, Assistant Housing & Environment Editor

The Churchgate Group has flagged-off World Trade Centre project, a scheme that would redefine the Abuja skyline, sets to emerge as the premier address for residential, commercial and office space. The project is rising from the ashes of the former Bakassi market in Central Business Area and the first phase will be delivered by the year 2013.

The real estate sector perched on the brink of history recently, when investors launched an ambitious property development scheme geared towards realising a long time dream of establishing a World Trade Centre (WTC) in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Projected by the promoters, First Continental Properties Limited, a subsidiary Churchgate Group to cost N156 billion, the development which will feature the iconic 37 storey World Trade Centre towers is a multi-use complex, comprising luxury high rise office towers, luxury apartments, conference facilities, capital city shopping mall and entertainment facilities. The project is being financed with private funds as well as local and foreign finance institutions backing.

The site sits on 6,102 hectares of land along Constitution Avenue in the Central Business Area that is strategically positioned at the heart of the city of Abuja leading directly into the city from the Airport. It is adjacent to the main Railway Station as well as the Central Business Transport Terminal. A ring road is also being constructed around the site giving it unrivaled access into centre of the city.
Historically, the World Trade Centre project site used to be known as Bakassi Market, an illegal market that was removed in 2003 by the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA). The site was then handed over to the Abuja Investment Company Limited (AICL) to develop as a befitting world-class shopping mall.

Already, the project divided into three phases has commenced, with Churchgate Construction Company Limited leading the construction team as the main contractor. Other consultants are Woods Bagot Limited (concept architect), Edifice Consultants PVT. Limited (executive architect), WSP Consultants (Structural Consultant and MEP Consultant), while Messrs Hancock Ogundiya & Partners are the Local MEP & C&S Consultant and Space Designers Limited (Local Architectural Consultant).

Giving an insight to the project, the Group Managing Director of The Churchgate Group, Mr. Vinay Mahtani, revealed that the project would consist of luxury offices, serviced apartments, hotel, and the 40,000 sq metres Capital City Mall. Other components are a leisure centre, cinema and convention facility. He disclosed that The Churchgate Group was building the project expeditiously with the aim of completing the first phase by the year 2013. He pointed out that The Churchgate Group believed that Abuja, being the federal capital and a frontline city in Africa had been in dire need of a landmark project such as that.

Mahtani hinted that the World Trade Centre real estate initiatives in Abuja would rank among the topmost developments around the globe both in terms of scale and quality. He also said that The Churchgate Group already had a track record for developing quality high rise buildings and the Abuja World Trade Centre development would not be an exception. “Already the project has provided job opportunity for about 600 inhabitants of Abuja and the satellite towns with the figure expected to rise to 1500 as work progresses,” Mahtani added.
“The building site for the proposed World Trade Centre Abuja is set to emerge as the premier address for residential, commercial and office space in Nigeria,” claims Ibukun Adeogun, Churchgate’s chief marketing manager, WTC Project.

According to Adeogun: “The World Trade Centre master plan provides for areas of public gatherings, services and amenities unlike anything Nigeria has ever experienced and will rank amongst the landmark destinations of the world. The site is located along the main gateway into the Central Business District. With 40,000 square metres of shopping centre on two levels, a branded hotel, twin tower office space for the blue chip companies of the world and a real-estate component, the World Trade Centre in Abuja has something for everyone,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Minister of the Federal Capital City, Senator Bala Mohammed who inspected the WTC project site under construction recently, commended the Churchgate Group for its initiative in bringing the World Trade Centre real estate brand to Abuja.
The minister who was accompanied on the visit by FCT Minister of State, Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide and the FCT Permanent Secretary, Dr. Abiodun Olurunfemi also congratulated Churchgate for securing the rights to the World Trade Centre brand for real estate development in Abuja. He remarked that the project was an example of public-private-partnership initiative, which the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan supported.

Mohammed disclosed that the project would be used as a model to implement some upcoming private partnership project in the FCT including the Central Area Boulevard, the Central Park and Botanical Gardens as well as the Area 10 mixed development project.
The minister stated that owing to the high profile and global scope of the World Trade Centre project, the Federal Capital Territory Authority had requested the Minister of Foreign Affairs to process diplomatic status for the development.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of Abuja Investment Company Limited, Dr. Abdu Muktar, two previous attempts to select development partners were unsuccessful before the selection of First Continental Properties Limited, a subsidiary of Churchgate Investment Company Limited in 2009 through a competitive, transparent process, leading to a development-lease agreement with AICL. The scope of the project was later expanded to a mega-multi-use complex, which would be bustling throughout the day and night.

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