Negotiations begin to commercialise heritage buildings in Colombo

Tuesday, 6 June 2023 00:36 –      – 289

  •  Urban Development Minister Prasanna Ranatunga discusses with Georgian investors

The Government has begun negotiations with foreign investors under a program initiated by the Urban Development Authority (UDA) to preserve the antiquity value of the building while making it available for commercial use. Urban Development and Housing Minister Prasanna Ranatunga confirmed that negotiations with foreign investors regarding the appropriate use of heritage buildings in Sri Lanka under the purview of the UDA for investment opportunities and the possibility of providing them for investment purposes have begun. He also said a meeting with a group of Georgian investors and the Sri Lankan Consul in Georgia Nino Makhviladze in this regard was held yesterday at the Ministry premises.

According to the UDA, the Gafoor building and the 80 Club building and several other buildings in Colombo have been identified for this purpose.

“Most of the ancient buildings in this country are falling into ruin due to lack of proper maintenance. Thus, by refurbishing them and using them appropriately for investments, the country can earn an income,” Minister Ranatunga said.

Given the gradual economic recovery and the political stability, he emphasised that there is an appetite for investment opportunities.

The Minister also directed officials of the UDA to fast track the l program and explore other places that can be used for this initiative and prepare a suitable schedule for it.

“The UDA is currently receiving inquiries about such places across the country, and that those places can also be used for this program in the future,” he added.

UDA Chairman Nimesh Herath, Director General Prasad Ranaweera, Deputy Director General (Estate) E.A.C and a group of officials participated in this discussion.

The previous Government initiated listing some of these ventures for sale though there was no significant progress.

Former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa who was the Urban Development Minister then instructed the UDA to undertake renovating old buildings in the city of Colombo, including the Gafoor building, to preserve their antiquity while making them commercially viable.

The Gafoor building was built over 100 years ago by Noordeen Hajiar Abdul Ghaffoor, a pioneer jeweller and gem merchant. The five-storey building has a floor area of 8,250 square feet. The building was gazetted as a ‘Protected Monument’ under the Antiquities Ordinance in 2000 but has thus far remained neglected with little renovation done on the landmark site.

 

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