Colombo Land unveils grandiose plans for Liberty Plaza development


Colombo Land & Development Company PLC, owners of the Liberty Plaza at Kollupitiya and People’s Park in Pettah, has unveiled an ambitious new multimillion rupee development plan to make the Liberty Plaza, one of the country’s first shopping malls, into a showpiece mixed by harnessing the benefits of its strategic location in the heart of the city.

The company which posted an operating loss of Rs.51 million in the year ended December 31, 2011 but a profit after-tax of Rs.303.2 million thanks to a fair value gain on investment property of Rs.328.2 million, has said in its annual report that the project of revamping its property "is progressing well."

The plan includes building a new 180-room city hotel for which a purchase agreement for land adjoining the Liberty Plaza southern car park has been finalized, a twin tower service apartment complex of 240 units on 21 floors and giving the existing podium block a new `skin’ with integrated multimedia and LED lighting.

Developing a food court on the second floor of the Liberty Plaza is due to commence in early September accompanied by converting the space adjoining the food court previously used as a commercial area into retail space.

The company said that it was trying to buy back already sold units which can be consolidated to create larger retail areas. As a result of this buy back, retail income for the year under review had deteriorated and costs had escalated.

The plan is to give the Liberty Place "a fresh new look" and transfer into a retail destination. A new building skin with integrated multimedia and lighting wraps around the old shopping podium block is expected to transform it into a visual icon in the heart of the city, the review said.

Colombo Land Chairman Nalaka Godahewa said that they have finalized the purchase agreement for property adjoining the southern car park of Liberty Plaza and will use it to build a 180-room city hotel catering to the growing demand for tourist accommodation in Colombo.

"Construction work on the project is due to commence in late 2012 and is scheduled for completion by 2014," he said.

Given the company’s ownership of several Colombo landmarks and the Urban Development Authority’s 17.45% ownership of the company, they were well placed "to be a significant stakeholder in the rise of Colombo into a cosmopolitan hub of emerging Asia," he said.

Godahewa noted that the company’s ownership structure had undergone several changes last year and it is now a majority Sri Lankan owned entity. The Singapore interest of 28.81% (Mr. Ng Eng Ghee/Mrs. Ng Siew Luan) remains the top shareholder while Kalpitiya Beach Resorts Ltd with 21.8% and Godahewa with 1.15% are among the top 20 shareholders.

"New entrances and public plazas, with cafes, glass canopies, greenery and seating would completely revitalize the surroundings. The entire retail experience is uplifted with new public spaces, upgraded interiors, fresh bathrooms, and unique ceiling and lighting designs," the review said.

The plan includes outdoor escalators in the new construction over the existing car park with a basement retail expansion to bring together isolated shop spaces into one fully integrated shopping mall.

The twin tower block of 240 service apartments on 21 apartment floors will have full glass facades and the one, two and three-bedroom units and pent houses having uninterrupted view of the city on one side and the ocean on the other.

"The living spaces would have all the amenities of a modern apartment complex. The efficient space layout of the tower floors ensures that there are minimal wasted spaces, where effort will be taken to maximize revenue generating spaces with smart design solutions," the review said.

The Colombo Land directors are Dr. N.H. Godahewa, Messrs. Dilith Jayaweera, Prof. CKm Deheragoda, Admiral (Rtd.) W.K.J. Karannagoda, D.S. Goonetilleke, Ali Sabry, Ng Yew Tong and Ng Yao Xing.

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