Lahore: Mubarak Centre project relaunched

By Jawwad Rizvi

THE commercial landmark that was earlier scrapped at its foundation stage is back on track as both the Punjab government and Abu Dhabi Group have managed to launch it again though with some modifications in its main plan.

The Mubarak Centre, a complex under construction in Lahore, was scrapped by the current government of Punjab in 2009. Initially, the project included towers having residential apartments and offices, conference halls and a shopping mall and it would have the tallest building in Pakistan.

An audit and accounts committee, consisting of representatives of both the Punjab government and Abu Dhabi Group, was established to make the feasibility report and finalise it before the next Board of Directors meeting scheduled to be held in January 2012.

However, after scrapping the project, the chief minister started negotiations again with Sheikh Mubarak Al Nahyan to reconsider the project with an amended construction plan.

The decision of reviving the Mubarak Centre was made in the Board of Directors meeting of the group held in Abu Dhabi on October 31, 2011, which was attended by Punjab Chief Secretary Nasir Mehmood Khosa, Planning and Development Board Chairman Javed Aslam, Finance Secretary Tariq Bajwa and seven members of the Abu Dhabi Group. According to the new plan, in first phase, eight-floor Mubarak Centre would be constructed out of which half of the underground construction would be used for parking having capacity of 2,100 vehicles and above four floors of modern shopping centre.

However, the decision of constructing the high-rise tower which could be sighted from neighbouring India and Golden Temple in Amritsar could have been seen from its top floor had been cancelled. It was decided to construct four more floors for commercial-cum-residential apartments and final floor would be a modern five-star hotel. In new design, the connecting tunnel of Mubarak Centre and Gaddafi Stadium had also been removed. According to the agreement, the Punjab government owned 30 percent share of the project and would bear that cost of the project. The sources, privy to the development, revealed that the Punjab government had already paid some Rs1.8 billion for the project in Pervaiz Elahi era. However, following a delay in the project, the Punjab government had already received some Rs300 million dividend from its invested equity share.

The project was being carried out as a 70/30 joint venture between the Abu Dhabi Group and the Punjab government. The two investors had formed a holding company for the Mubarak Centre, called Taavun (Pvt) Ltd, which was to be responsible for managing the project.

P&D Chairman Javed Aslam, when contacted, told The News confirmed that a decision had been made for the revival of the project. He said the final announcement would be made after next meeting of the Board of Directors of the group in January 2012 in which final change in the design would be approved. He said the change in design was made following the result of need-based survey conducted by the both the stakeholders which proved that use of apartments for living was not popular in Lahore.

Earlier, the ice was broken in the Dubai Business Conference held in Dubai in 2010 in which Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif met the chairman of the Abu Dhabi Group, Sheikh Mubarak Al Nahyan, and offered him to renegotiate the construction and ownership deal of the Mubarak Centre. The work on the centre was stopped after some business contentions between the Punjab government and Abu Dhabi Group and later it was scrapped in 2009.

The project was designed to cover 11 acres of prime land on the main Ferozepur Road. Initially, the complex would consisted of four towers and a small eclipse-shaped building. The main tower would have been 60 storeys high with the first 45 floors reserved for offices and the rest for residential apartments. The plan included a five-star hotel (with 400 rooms, ballrooms, banqueting facilities and other amenities and a Cineplex (with six independent theatres). The other three towers would have been having 30 to 45 storeys with an eclipse-shaped tower in between, which would house individually designed apartments along a five-storey shopping mall, which would have been the largest shopping and entertainment complex in the region. The eclipse-shaped tower have also housed the largest reception and conference halls in the country, having capacity for 3,500 to 4,000 people.

News courtesy: The News
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