Interview: We are redefining Nigeria’s skyline – Vinay Mahtani, GMD, Churchgate Group
The minute a conversation surrounding the World Trade Center (WTC) is in full swing, the first thing that may come to mind is the unfortunate incident which took place in New York in the United States of America on September 11, 2011. An incident which had a global impact on the world due to the fact that the twin towers were completely destroyed and so many lives lost. However way before the incident and even now, WTC buildings were making appearances around the world in various countries. WTC currently has a stake in the following African countries – South Africa, Senegal, Nigeria, Libya, Egypt, Cape Verde, Algeria and Angola.
Nigeria has its very own WTC and it is located in the Federal Capital, Abuja. Nigeria’s WTC does not only cater to business and economic real estate needs, it also provides other real estate requirements.
Vinay Mahtani, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Churchgate Group, the company in charge of developing the WTC project and several other projects in Nigeria spoke to Ventures Africa (VA), explaining why the group decided to erect such a masterpiece in the nation’s capital. VA learnt that Churchgate Group is committed to coming up with innovative ways to push Nigeria’s real estate sector to greater heights.
Ventures Africa (VA). What informed the name ‘World Trade Center’?
Vinay Mahtani (VM). The history of the “World Trade Center” dates back to 1938 when the New York World Fairs included an exhibit called the World Trade Center that was dedicated to the concept of “world peace through trade.” Over the years, selected developers have won the franchise to build a World Trade Center in various cities around the globe. There are over 330 World Trade Centers in more than 100 countries and the WTC being constructed in Abuja will join the list as the first multi-purpose center in West Africa.
There is an umbrella organization for all the WTCs, with headquarters in New York City, called the World Trade Centers Association (WTCA). This organization stimulates trade and investment opportunities for commercial property developers, economic development agencies, and international businesses looking to connect globally and prosper locally. Although WTCs vary from country to country, they are all connected as a part of the WTCA.
So with the construction of World Trade Center in Abuja, it automatically becomes a member of the World Trade Centers Association and occupants within the WTC Abuja can join other members in benefiting from the services and facilities of other World Trade Centers at concessionary rates. These worldwide privileges include meeting rooms and club facilities, trade information and education services, exhibition space, access to temporary office space, video-conferencing facilities, and secretarial and translation services.
VA. Where does funding for the World Trade Center come from?
VM. The World Trade Center Abuja project is privately funded.
VA. Are there partners involved with Churchgate to set up the WTC project? Who are they?
VM. Yes, as you would expect, due to the magnitude of the project, there are other project partners involved in the development. Churchgate Construction is building World Trade Center Abuja. International consultants include Woods Bagot Limited (Concept Architect) and WSP Consultants (Structural Consultant and MEP Consultant), while Local Consultants include Messrs Hancock Ogundiya & Partners (MEP & C&S Consultant) and Space Designers Limited (Local Architectural).
VA. Who are your target customers for the apartment and office complexes?
VM. Our target audience includes the business community, large corporations, high net-worth individuals and investors.
VA. What is the price range for each of the apartment and office complexes?
VM. The WTC apartments consist of units ranging from 1-bedroom to 6-bedroom. Prices start at approximately $800K for outright purchase and we also offer lease options. We encourage clients to take an exclusive tour of the project so that they can experience the WTC value proposition for themselves, and truly understand why it makes sense to be a part of this landmark project.
VA. On your website, you specify that the apartment complex is ready for use. How many have you sold out already?
VM. Yes, sales have been very positive thus far, and as the project approaches its completion, we expect numbers to continue to grow. I am not at liberty to divulge exact sales figures.
VA. Do you have women on your team?
VM. We have employed thousands of people, both directly and indirectly, and our team is made up of both males and females. The number of women on the team is substantial and growing; women occupy key positions and are involved in all stages, from the concept design, planning, construction and sales and marketing of the WTC Abuja.
VA. In your experience as a company committed to economic prosperity in Nigeria, what other projects have you built and sustained till this time?
VM. With nearly 50 years of existence, the Churchgate Group has served as a premier developer of luxury commercial and multi-family developments. Our landmark projects include: Churchgate Tower 1, Lagos; Churchgate Tower 2, Lagos; Churchgate Plaza, Abuja; and Ocean View Apartments, Lagos. We have also built several factories and warehouse facilities across the country. The World Trade Center Abuja is presently our flagship project, and we intend on building similar projects throughout the country. We will always innovate and embark on projects that will continue to redefine the skyline of Nigeria.
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