UAP soars high with 33 storey business complex
By Anthony Kiganda
The commercial property sector in Kenya has attracted corporate institutions mainly financial providers offering them with an opportunity to invest. With the volatile financial markets, the property sector is emerging to be a preferred choice of investment to most corporate organizations.
Among the companies that have already invested billions of shillings into the property sector is UAP Group. The leading diversified financial provider has in the past engaged in commercial property development, but its move to construct an iconic 33 storey complex in Upper Hill area dabbed UAP-Old Mutual Towers has put the firm in its own league.
The UAP-Old Mutual Towers which is nearing completion is a Grade A office development with top notch quality and durable granite finishes in addition to ample parking space of over 800 cars. For safety, the building has fire detection and alarm Warning Systems. This Coupled with a fireman’s Lift and a Sprinkler System, fire outbreak can be tackled easily.
To ensure constant supply of water, the complex has water storage tanks with a capacity of 72,000 litres each. A bore hole has been dug onsite and a water treatment machine constructed to treat water. Building Management System and its control ensures the windows of the tower are clean at all times.
The building, currently the tallest in Nairobi, has special green features incorporated into its design. The building will use LED & energy saving fittings to enhance low consumption of energy. The building has also a synchronized two 900 KVA standby Diesel generators to ensure constant power supply in the complex.
Features inside include an infra-red urinal sensors and water-saving cisterns. A spacious shared boardroom at the 30th floor gives an amazing scenic view of the entire Nairobi central business district. At the top of the building, distinct lighting has been installed to make it recognizable at night. Upon completion, the entire building will have colourful lights that will be beautiful to behold especially at night.
James Gitoho the architect behind the design of the building reveals that the 133m high building is set to stand the test of time. The Triad architect quips that without air conditioning the building has favourable temperature.
“A lot of immense work has gone into the construction of the building. It is our sincere hope that tenants will find it suitable and tailor-made for their business needs,” says the architect who is also behind the Times Tower design.
Commenting on the building, Patricia Kiwanuka who is the group managing director for asset management and property at UAP Group says that the piece de resistance complex is set to open its doors in June.
“It is a complex that has been designed for businesses,” says Patricia who adds that offices for large organizations can be hosted in one block. This, she reckons, can enormously reduce cost of operation of such companies.
“We will also move our offices to the UAP- Old Mutual Towers. This shows how we are confident about the building and its capacity,” discloses Patricia.
Already, high end tenants have shown interest in occupying the building. One such tenant is AMS group. Ronal Samani who is the corporate development director at AMS Group says that traditionally, the firm has occupied iconic building in their several locations around the world. The UAP-Old Mutual Tower, he says, fits the standard of Regus a subsidiary of AMS group that will be housed in the building.
It follows the announcement by Knight Frank that it had commenced leasing floors and parking spaces at the 33 storey UAP-Old Mutual Towers.
Although Upper Hill has emerged as Kenya’s financial hub, infrastructure in the area especially roads is wanting. Andrew Salmon a representative from Upperhill District Association says talks with Kenya Urban Roads Authority are in top gear to ensure the area is well connected with roads.
But the challenge did not deter the construction of the UAP-Old Mutual Towers. For Patricia, commercial property sector provides the firm opportunity to invest client’s money. The venture also helps to cushion them against unfavourable financial times.
UAP Group is not a new entrant in the commercial property sector. The firm which began investing in the sector in 1930 is behind several notable buildings in Nairobi such as Union Tower, Equity Centre and Old Mutual building. But it is not in Kenya where UAP Group has invested in commercial property.
The firm has erected EquatoriaTower in South Sudanese capital Juba that has defined the skyline of the city. The 15 storey development houses government offices, diplomats and other top notch businesses.
A joint venture between UAP Insurance South Sudan and the Central Equatoria State, the ultra-modern grade A office block in Juba is located 1km from the Central Business District in the Hai Neem area-a strategic location for organizations that wish to operate in a productive and professional business environment.
The building has also an aerobic sewerage treatment system for the recycling of water waste for landscape irrigation. Other notable components of the building includes Rain water harvesting system Low flush toilets, treatment and recycling of water, Borehole sunk on site, Pressurized water systems and Waste management system.
The building also uses Building Management System and an Elevator Management System to monitor and control energy consumption.To complement the commercial development in Juba UAP Group has constructed UAP Heights Apartment which is a high class residential apartment offering secure and superior accommodation in Juba, South Sudan.
The firm has also spread its wings to Uganda where it has developed a breath taking office block. UAP Nakawa Business Park is an iconic grade A office development in Kampala that offers modern planning of bespoke office accommodation. Spread over four blocks of 8-storeys each, incorporating quality landscaping and modern infrastructure, the Business Park defines new standards for office developments in Uganda.
With approximately 23, 000 square meters of prime office space, UAP Nakawa Business Park architecture is a modern transformative experience of corporate office, designed with maximum flexibility to meet occupier requirements.
The Business Park is located at the junction of Jinja Road and Port Bell Road, 3Km to the Central Business District in Nakawa, a strategic location for multinational corporates and organisations desiring to operate in a productive business environment.
Like the UAP Tower in Nairobi, Safety and health has been prioritised with provision of defined fire escape routes, modern fire fighting equipment and emergency alarm system, sprinkler systems and disability access and facilities provisions.
“UAP Holding is firmly established as the Kenya’s market leader in financial services, but we have long harboured ambitions of being equally dominant in the commercial property market,” reveals Patricia.
In its bid to diversify and maintain its position at the top of the industry, UAP Holding has recently made some significant strategic moves to expand and enhance its offering to the market. For instance, it merged with leading UK financial services group Old Mutual. The group then aqcuired a stake in leading microfinance institution Faulu Kenya.
“We have established a reputation for the large, bespoke projects so we will continue with more of these.We believe that we are leaders in what we do, but being leaders and staying leaders are two different things so we have to focus on maintaining this position by coming up with innovative tailor made products for our clients.”