August 18, 2014

Centenary City Abuja – What to Expect

Dolapo Omidire

The Centenary City in Abuja is a private sector driven project that was launched to mark the 100th anniversary of Nigeria by January 1st 2014. The ambitious project is expected to cost $18b (N2.4tr) and take 10 – 15 years to complete. It will be built to model global smart cities like Dubai, Monaco and Singapore.

The CEO of Eagle Hills explained that 75% of the development would be residential and the balance would be commercial. However, he noted that master plans change and evolve over time. The project will create 50,000 construction jobs and upon completion up to 70,000 jobs.

The city will include interesting features including a 5.5km Formula 1 track, 5 Star Hotels, retail outlets, office space and much more. Here is a comprehensive list of what you can expect.

Hotels The Address Hotel and Resorts intend to offer unparalleled level of luxury and sophistication. The complex will provide an extensive selection of accommodation from studios to the presidential suite, along with residential apartments to 3-bedroom duplexes. 313,697m2 of hotel suites and serviced apartments are planned for development.
Residential Residences in this new city will incorporate urban lifestyles and shall include idyllic neighbourhood villas and ultra modern central towers. The residences will have social areas and green spaces to create a warm community atmosphere. 260 luxury villas & 256 apartment buildings are planned for development.
Commercial Financial CenterIn a bid to make this region the new commercial hub of Abuja, a dedicated ‘Abuja Financial Center’ will be developed. This development will rival similar projects nearby like the World Trade Center.The exact size of commercial space that will be introduced has not been specified in detail, but it is expected that ample A Grade space will be developed.
Shopping The developers behind the Centenary City hope to introduce a host of international brands that are currently not available in the country, in what is to be called the Nigeria Mall.To live up to this name, this mall will need to blow other developments like Jabi Lake Mall in Abuja as well as the Palms Extension and Royal Gardens Mall in Lagos.
Arts Museum of African Arts – The Abuja Museum of African Art is slated to offer both artistic beauty and cultural education. It is hoped that it will create a must see experience that will become an inherent part of any tourist’s journey to the country.
Culture Nigeria Heritage Park – This park is expected to offer a picturesque outdoor venue in the heart of nature, adding to the appeal of the events and entertainment held there.This space will also be available for use for large social gatherings.
Opera Abuja Opera House This opera house will play host to a wide variety of performing arts from around the world.
Golf The development will hold an 18 Hole Golf Course. 466,298m2 integrated golf community.
Entertainment A new 36,000m2 amusement part is part of what is to be included in the Centenary City development, complete with retail and dining options. The park will feature a large assortment of rides and entertainment from charing ids’ rises to gravity defying roller coasters, ensuring a fun-packed day out for the whole family.
Formula 1 A proposed 5.5km F1 International Circuit is also amongst a host of other (ultra) mixed use elements to be included in this modern city. If executed properly, this circuit could become a hub for international Formula 1 in Africa.

The Centenary City and Abuja

The Centenary City is an exciting development that will offer a host of contemporary amenities. But the big question is the demand. Does Abuja’s small resident and even smaller tourist population have the capacity to hold a development of this caliber? Unlike Lagos, which shoulders up to 65% of economic activity in the country, Abuja is not the commercial capital of the country. Most commercial activity in this region is driven by governmental organisations, so it is unlikely that there will be strong demand for A Grade Office space from corporates. In 2010, Lagos contributed up to 15% to the country’s GDP, while Abuja contributed 5%.

However, the Centenary City might be better off as a glorified business and leisure park. It’s out of town location and close proximity to the airport could make that the winning option. If the scope can be slightly reduced, it could become a business center dedicated to providing prime office space for international blue chip companies keen on establishing a local office in the capital city; as the economy continues to grow this type of interest will increase. A reduction in the planned residential units on offer would also slice a considerable chunk of development risk. Other exciting leisure and entertainment elements can be left to allow the region become a tourism hotspot for the country.

Nonetheless, the $180.6bn development is unlike anything on offer. The idea of the development is to attract investment and create a new nerve center. It is good to see that other new city projects like the $6b Eko Atlantic, are under development in Nigeria. However, it’s important that we do not neglect regeneration and refurbishment of the older regions, so the entire country can grow together.

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