Affordable Housing

Eko Atlantic: Renaissance in a city with its own soul

Rising on the ‘ashes’ of what used to be Lagos Bar Beach, Eko Atlantic City comes off easily as the most ambitious  and iconic project in West Africa delivering quality, high end real estate and offering residential, commercial and retail opportunities to Nigerians and their foreign investor-friends.

Eko Atlantic is the name of this  grandiose project aimed to create a new economic capital for Africa. The development includes everything from sky-scrapers to luxury apartments, a new financial district, a private power-grid, and a shopping boulevard in the image of New York’s Fifth Avenue.

Sitting adjacent to Victoria Island, Lagos, Eko Atlantic is quietly evolving into a modern and self-sustaining city with its own soul. On daily basis, Lagos residents pass through the Ahmadu Bello Way which separates the new city from ‘Lagos’ and all they probably see on the right hand side of the divide is  an expansive parcel of land with just a couple of structures.

Little do they know that, on the massive land space which stretches 10 million square metres on the shoreline, a renaissance is taking place, reflecting what is possible in Nigeria if only the managers of the country commit to providing the right environment for private capital to lead the economy.

Analysts are of the view that Nigeria will work, the economy will grow and the citizens will flourish if the country gets it right in infrastructure and some critical sectors such as oil and gas, power, health, education and housing, pointing out that Eko Atlantic mirrors how all that could be done.

When we took a tour of the city recently, the experience was not only stunning, but also enlightening. The investment, developments and transformation going on there are massive and far reaching, presenting the city, paradoxically, as a hidden treasure and the best kept secret in the wider Lagos society that is almost bursting at its seams.

“Our major challenge here is perception; a lot of people don’t seem to understand  what we are doing. There are wrong perceptions and misconceptions; some people, especially the foreign media, speak from preconceived ideas about city development”, Ronald Chagoury Jnr, Vice Chairman, South Energyx Nigeria Limited, developers of the city, told us.

A major argument against Eko Atlantic City development has always been on its likely impact on the environment. Human rights groups and environment experts frequently raise concerns, saying that if the project’s  Environmental Impact Assessment  (EIA) is not duly obtained as speculated, its impacts in the future would be devastating.

But Chagoury Jnr disagrees, insisting that the city’s shore- line protection will rise almost 10 metres above sea level and, therefore, will resist even the severest ocean surge that could happen and impact on the city and environs.

This corroborates what David Frame, also of South Energyx, said at a forum on the evaluation of the city’s environmental impact assessment (EIA) in Lagos a few years ago. “The sea wall is designed and tested to handle the worst storms in hundreds/thousand years; The Great Wall of Lagos will ensure that everyone living and working within 10 square kilometres (6.2 miles) of reclaimed land for Eko Atlantic and the population of Victoria Island are protected from the sea”, Frame assured.

Chagury Jnr  added, “what we have here are sea breakers which do not push water back or sideways, but rather filter water to the bottom”, debunking insinuations in some quarters that the occasional flooding incidents in Lekki and the alpha beach areas are caused by the city development.

The sea wall which has already gone up to 6metres will stretch 10 kilometres and it is a masterpiece of engineering and architecture with its alluring walkway, picturesque and panoramic views of the ocean.

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Besides the sea wall, the city boasts top-notch infrastructure where the 8-lane Eko Boulevard connects seamlessly to a good network of roads and also to 14 bridges overlooking an artificial lake which will accommodate four boats moving side-by-side at slow speed.

Eko Pearl Towers is another revelation in the city. This is the second major development in the city after the Eko Boulevard. The development is a delightful collection of high rise residential towers with each tower standing on 24 floors. It is situated in the centre of the harbour of the  city and comprises five stunning towers including White Pearl Tower, Black Pearl Tower, Indigo Pearl Tower, Champagne Pearl Tower and Aqua Pearl Tower. So far, only two towers— Black and Champagne—are ready and occupied.

Each floor of the towers offers two units of three- bedroom two units of two- bedroom apartments. The apartments’ amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean, Victoria Island and Lagos Island Central Business District (CBD). The foyer, the sit-out and the swimming pools also provide scenic views of the surrounding sea and especially of  ships gliding on water to their Apapa ports destination.

The city which began in 2003 is designed as mixed use development for residential, commercial and retail. On- going developments such as Azuri Peninsula will offer both residential and retail facilities and it is situated in the city’s Marina District which is one of the most stunning residential and commercial hubs, offering city living at its finest. Arguably, Eko Atlantic is the single most ambitious and comprehensive mixed-use development plan to come on stream in the West Africa sub- region in recent times. Modelled after the skyscraper District of Manhattan Island in New York City, it is expected that the new city will be home to no fewer than 500,000 residents, with commuter volume expected to exceed 300,000 people daily. The uniqueness of the initiative is also in its self-sufficient and sustainable state-of- the-art urban design, its own power, clean water, advanced telecommunications, spacious roads with about 200,000 trees planned to be planted. The residential units will be constructed as vertical high- rise apartment towers which explains its description as Africa’s Dubai.

Quite unknown to those who just pass-by the city,  a good number of people are already living in the city in the Eko Pearl. Similarly, the 14-floor commercial building also has its tenants and is currently in the market for potential tenants. The city has enjoyed considerable interest from both lo- cal and foreign investors. But in the last two years of economic slowdown in the country, interest has come largely from foreign investors. “What we have today is a foreign market unlike two years ago when the city was a Nigerian market”, Chagoury Jnr confirmed. Of the various prime island locations in Lagos including Ikoyi, Victoria Island and Lekki, land price in Eko Atlantic is the highest, followed closely by Banana Island, the most exclusive residential location in Lagos. Experts explain that the high price which land at- tracts in the city derives from its infrastructure.

Source: Chuka Uroko

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