Mr Ashish Thakker, the real estate entrepreneur behind Kensington Luxury Homes in Uganda and the Kensington Krystal Tower in Dubai, is the new owner of the Shimoni land in Kampala.
The land was originally owned by the government and housed Shimoni Demonstration Primary School. But in 2006, the school was demolished and relocated to Kololo, to give way for the construction of a five- star hotel for Chogm in 2007. Mr Thakker, 29, is among the initial group of 100 space tourists booked on the Virgin Galactic space ship.
Mr Thakker, also the chief executive officer Kensington Real Estate, paid $200,000 (about Shs456 million) to sign up for the luxury flight. He owns the Mara Group with subsidiaries including, Raps and Railey Media and Packaging in Uganda.
His company Azure Holdings, a subsidiary of the Kensington Group in Uganda, has started the construction of a five-star hotel on the Shimoni land.
In an interview on Thursday, Dr Maggie Kigozi, the executive director Uganda Investment Authority, said Azure acquired the Shimon piece of land from Kingdom Holdings in Dubai which failed to put up a hotel at the prime city location. “Kingdom Holdings paid $2 million for the land and I think they paid slightly over that,” Dr Kigozi said, estimating the cost at about $2.6 million (about Shs6 billion). Dr Kigozi said the project was authorised by the Minister of Finance last year and will attract investment of up to $80 million (Shs182 billion).
Kensington plans to add an urban commercial centre that will rival the Oasis and Garden City shopping malls, at the venue. According to details on the artistic impression erected on Nile Avenue, Azure plans to construct a hotel with 34 floors and 250 luxury rooms.
The building will be the second tallest building in East Africa after Kenya’s Times Tower. The ground will also be home to Kampala’s largest conventional centre and will have parking space for 1,500 vehicles. When Daily Monitor visited the site yesterday, excavation work for the construction of the underground parking had been halted.
“Some external problems with KCC and the ministry have to be sorted out first,” a source at the site who is not authorised to speak on behalf of project said. But Dr Maggie said Azure has been in talks with the National Water and Sewerage Corporation to find a way of shifting water pipes at the location.
In Dubai, Kensington is setting up the Kensington Krystal, a corporate office building with 60,000 square meters of space. The 36-storey tower, which is valued at Shs433 billion, is scheduled for completion in 2012.