RETAIL A new era for Nigerian shoppers
No one said building a world-class shopping center in a third-world country was going to be easy. And in Nigeria, where a corrupt government, violence and crumbling infrastructure have plagued the country for decades, the challenge has been particularly brutal. But in just a few months, developers in Lagos, Nigeria will unveil The Palms, the largest shopping mall Africa has ever seen.
Although the rapidly-growing city is the largest in Sub-Saharan Africa, this will be the first retail center of its kind in Lagos. London-based private equity firm Actis Capital provided the $40 million funding for the center, which will cater to wealthy and middle-class Nigerians. The mall, with 20,000 square meters of shopping space, is located in the Lekki neighborhood, a prosperous residential section of Lagos. The developers have been able to persuade three large African chains, including Shoprite, Africa's biggest food retailer, to sign on.
For the owner, Nigerian entrepreneur Tayo Amusan, the mall's opening has been a long time coming. Work on the mall started nearly six years ago. Amusan came up with the idea while completing a development of luxury apartments on Victoria Island, a wealthy enclave near Lagos.
Nevertheless, challenges remain, some of which are reflected in the design of the center itself. A concrete block wall with massive steel entrance gates will reportedly encircle The Palms to protect it from the riots and mobs that have engulfed Lagos in the past. Frequent power outages in the city forced developers to include a 2900 KVA generating plant on the premises. And because city services are already stretched, the center will reportedly treat its own sewage and purify and store water for drinking and fighting fires.
Los Angeles art finds a home
Though the actor and director Dennis Hopper is best known for his work in films such as Easy Rider and Blue Velvet, he is also highly regarded as an artist— something that the residents of Azzurra, a luxury waterfront condominium tower in LA's Marina Del Rey neighborhood, have come to know well. The 450-unit highrise, owned by Colony Capital, features a $2 million collection of art featuring the work of Hopper, Frank Stella, David Hockney, Peter Alexander and other artists from the “LA Art Movement” of the early 1960s. To help promote the new collection, Hopper recently convened a reunion of sorts at the Azurra. The artists posed for a group photo in front of Hopper's famous “Double Standard,” a picture of two Standard Oil gas stations taken through a car window. Colony says the art will eventually become the property of the building's homeowners association. Until then, the private equity real estate firm hopes to allow as many outside visitors as possible to see it.
Clinton's Harlem space sold
The Harlem offices of former US president Bill Clinton changed ownership this month when The City Investment Fund, a partnership led by Fisher Brothers Realty and Morgan Stanley Real Estate Fund III, purchased two buildings in Harlem, one of them containing Clinton's New York digs, for $135 million. The seller was a partnership headed by Cogswell Realty of New York and a vehicle involving New York investor Arthur Stern. The acquisition was partially financed by Bear Stearns, which originated a $103 million tenyear, fixed-rate mortgage. Clinton occupies 8,300 square feet on the top floor of 55 West 125th Street, paying rent of $40 per square foot. The former commander-inchief first moved to Harlem in 2000, after drawing fire for his initial choice of offices, which were located in the more expensive section of midtown Manhattan. Harlem, which was already undergoing a transformation when Clinton moved in, has continued to attract businesses and real estate investors alike in the intervening years.
Development wave in Hawaii
Though beachfront hotels and high-end luxury residences dominate the popular imagination of the Hawaiian real estate market, an industrial development boom is currently underway in the Aloha state. Over the next year, approximately 900,000 square feet of industrial property is expected to be built on the island of Oahu, where industrial vacancy rates are less than two percent, according to the commercial real estate firm Colliers Monroe Friedlander. One entity looking to cash in on the boom is the private trust Cambell Estate, which is putting the island's biggest piece of undeveloped industrial-zoned land up for sale. Analysts say the 100-acre site, which rests between Kapolei and Campbell Industrial Park, will be the area's last major industrial property development for the foreseeable future. Though the sale of the property, expected by the end of the year, should help satisfy some of the demand for industrial space, it won't come cheaply: the sticker price could reportedly reach $80 million.