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Kenya’s Olympic arm builds commercial block for sale

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 - 00:00 -- BY JAMES WAITHAKA

The Kenyan arm of the Olympic movement has set out to build a commercial block for sale as one of the projects its rolling out to attain financial self-sufficiency. The Olympic Plaza, a 16-storey twin-tower office block, will be built in Nairobi’s Upper Hill, next to Crowne Plaza.

The National Olympic Committee-Kenya (NOC-K) said this will cost it more than Sh1 billion to build when it unveiled the architectural plans. NOC-K will retain three floors in the plaza for its own use. “NOC-K is a not-for-profit institution and only intends to retain three floors at the Olympic Plaza,” said Christine Mugera, an administrator at NOC-K.

She said the organisation does not intend to pursue further investments in property in future. “NOC-K’s core business is preparing and sending teams to the Olympics, Commonwealth and the All Africa Games. NOC-K’s focus has not shifted to real estate and investments,” said Mugera.  “Olympic Plaza is a project born from the desire of NOC-K executives to have a landmark that can be synonymous with the success and prowess of Kenyan Athletes internationally, as well as have a central home for everything Olympic in Kenya,” she said.

Project financing has been arranged with the Development Bank of Kenya as the lead financier. Tysons Ltd and Dominion Valuers are presently the selling agents. “It is the only project in Upper Hill coming up for sale currently. Most of the other constructions coming up in the area are for own-use by the developers,” said lead architect Vincent Ochieng’ of Ahead Architects.

The commercial building will have 80 office suites of varying sizes, restaurants and a gym. Other features include a rotating floor at the top-most with a museum and hall-of-fame for Olympic heroes, parking (basement and above-ground), a viewing deck and terrace, and a roof garden. The project has a build time of 24 months and will be completed in 2014. Site excavation works commenced in April. Provisional prices for space have been pegged at Sh12,500-13,000 per Sq. foot or Sh11.5 million per office suite. NOC-K says it has already sold off-plan 25 per cent of the space available for sale.

The Olympic committee usually finances its operations mainly through its core business of preparing and sending teams to the Olympic games held every four years. It also gets funds from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the parent body, and from sponsors. The project is touted as one of the surest ways of sustaining its future operations as it intends to diversify the disciplines for which it fields athletes in the international competitions.