Focus on Northern development
2 years ago
By Uwin Lugoda The state-owned Selendiva Investments Ltd. is now set to take up its mission of revitalising underutilised government assets up north, as the company looks to develop 63 acres of underdeveloped land in Kankesanthurai, Jaffna. The project, which falls under the real estate arm of the company, Selendiva Real Estate, is set to develop the land that is currently occupied by the Jaffna International Co-ordination Centre. Speaking to The Sunday Morning, Selendiva Investments Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Shamahil Mohideen stated that the centre only occupies 30% of the entire property, leaving the rest underutilised. “We want to make maximum use of this property since the centre only takes up a small portion of the land. Our goal is to develop the existing centre and also build an international tourist resort hotel on the rest of it.” This project will mirror other projects being done in Colombo by the company, such as the development taking place at Waters Edge, which is set to become Colombo's first-ever eco-friendly luxury boutique hotel. This new hotel will be built on Urban Development Authority (UDA)-owned land, and host 48 separate rooms for both local and foreign tourists, with a view of the Diyawanna Oya. Similar to the Waters Edge development, the property in Jaffna will be acquired by the UDA and given over to Selendiva for development and raising capital. Mohideen stated that the company will sign a lease agreement with the UDA for the property. When asked about the estimated cost for this new resort hotel, he stated that as of 17 June, the tentative estimation for the project is between Rs. 5 billion and Rs. 6 billion. He also estimated that the project would take another three to four months to initiate, following preliminary processes. "Even though the Cabinet of Ministers has given its approval for these developments, we still have a lot of preliminary work to do. We still need to get the land acquisition of the property resolved and sign a lease agreement with the UDA. So, it might take us around three to four months to start work on it," said Mohideen. Furthermore, he explained that all the projects under Selendiva Investments will take place in phases, with the projects under the hospitality and leisure arm, Selendiva Leisure, getting priority over the projects of Selendiva Real Estate, which the Jaffna project falls under. The projects under the hospitality and leisure arm include the reconstruction of the Grand Hyatt before December 2022, the expansion and development of Hilton, and the facelift and expansion of the Grand Oriental Hotel. Both Selendiva Leisure and Selendive Real Estate are part of three investment portfolios set up by the company using the public-private partnership (PPP) model. The three investment portfolios have been recognised as the Colombo Fort Heritage Square, immovable property development (Selendiva Real Estate), and the government-owned hospitality sector (Selendiva Leisure). At the time of Selendiva Investment’s inception in July 2020, it was only tasked with the revival of three state institutions; namely, the Grand Hyatt Colombo, Hotel Developers (owning company of Hilton Colombo), and Grand Oriental Hotel. However, media reports later stated that several other valuable properties including the building that houses the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Air Force Headquarters, and the Bank of Ceylon, have also been allocated for these investment projects. “Selendiva Investments is an institution that was established to strengthen the loss-making state enterprises and thereby generate revenue for the country. We aim to transform state-owned enterprises into commercially viable enterprises in line with the President’s ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’ policy framework,” said Mohideen.