If you just passed by UBC, Crested Towers or national theatre side you will be surprised to see a brand new building that is changing the skyline up in the clouds of Kampala, worry not, it’s the magnificent Kingdom Kampala that has changed the growing beauty of Kampala’s skyline.
A project delivered by City tycoon Dr.Sudhir Ruparelia and his family have worked to deliver the magnificent, modern state of art Kingdom Kampala, a beautiful building that has redefined Kampala’s skyline and now ready for occupation it serves all classes and categories of Ugandans and city dwellers! Accordingly, the billionaire Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia says the Kingdom Kampala is now open to the public and ready for occupation.
The property, which is the newest addition to Kampala’s glistening skyline, was constructed at a cost of more than $300 million. It has taken more than a decade to build. Kingdom Kampala is a mega-mixed use mall situated in the city’s Central Business District. Out of the 40,000m2 built up area, 22,000m2 is lettable, consisting of 18,000m2 of office space, 4,000m2 of retail as well as parking for up to 450 cars.
The property has 10 floors of office space, 47 retail units and 3 floors of basement parking. It was pomp and celebration over the weekend as US$320m Kingdom Kampala Mall owned by the Ruparelia Group was officially opened to the public on Sunday. Mr. Rajiv Ruparelia, Managing Director/CEO Ruparelia Group who drove the Project from inception to completion and is also the Managing Director of Crane Management Services Ltd, officialy opened the building alongside Jyostna Ruparelia, a Director. Kingdom Kampala mall, which is now one of the marvels in the Kampala sky is located between three main roads; Nile Avenue, Yusuf Lule Road and Dewinton Road to the northeast of Central Business District of Kampala. Addressing guests, who included top Kampala tycoons, Rajiv revealed that the building has been opened at “a strategic” time when Uganda’s oil sector is booming, noting that it will offer office space to the sector as well as others.
He described the “phase one of the building” as unique, noting that there are a few buildings like it in Uganda. He revealed the total built up area is 42,000 square meters. Local Business people, Traders, Tenants, Potential Tenants, Young city businessman, Gideon Kirumira and wife all attended the event.
Rajiv clarified that the facility has 22,000 square meters of let-table retail & office space, parking for up to 450 cars and sprinkler fire suppression system. The magnificent building has backup generators that can power the building for up to five days in case hydro power is off or if city is under load shedding. Kingdom Kampala also has 400 on spot CCTVs to provide adequate security monitoring and control.
Inside the twelve floored multibillion and multipurpose complex is also a 200 bedroom 4 Star Hotel and a 16,000 square meter rentable space for leisure related kind of businesses. Construction on Kingdom Kampala started off in 2006 after Saudi investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal leased 15 acres (6.1 ha) of prime land in the center of Kampala from the government of Uganda for 99 years. Alwaleed’s company, Kingdom Holding, was supposed to build a five star hotel to be opened in 2009.
In the aftermath of the 2008/2009 financial crisis, Kingdom Holding failed to mobilize financing to complete the Hotel, and in 2016 Ruparelia’s Crane Management Services (CMS), a subsidiary of Ruparelia Group, acquired the property and restarted construction work. Sudhir, Uganda’s richest man in Uganda and among the riches in the east Africa region serves as founder and Chairman of the Ruparelia Group of Companies that has interest in Education, Hospitality, Entertainment, Health, and Foundation among others. This has since grown considering the fact that he has been opening more new buildings in Kampala and the surrounding areas.
It’s a major feat for Ruparelia, 62, who over the last three years has suffered a series of setbacks in running his business empire. In 2017, the Central Bank of Uganda shut down four Forex Bureaus owned by his conglomerate. A year before that, the Ugandan Central Bank took control of Crane Bank, the commercial bank that the Ruparelia group controlled, over what the country’s apex financial institution described as capital inadequacy problems. Sudhir Ruparelia is the founder and Chairman of the Ruparelia Group, one of Uganda’s largest conglomerates. The company owns a string of hotels and country clubs and more than 200 commercial properties and business enterprises including schools, universities, and horticulture. Rajiv Ruparelia says Shimoni relocation was timely and It was time for the relocation of Shimoni Demonstration Primary School to pave way for development in the city, Mr Rajiv Ruparelia, Dr. SudhirRuparelia’s son, has said. Mr Rajiv made the remarks during the official opening of Kingdom Kampala Shopping Mall on Nile Avenue. “Shimoni served its purpose. However, it was whether to leave Kampala underdeveloped or developed. As urbanisation takes shape, a lot of changes happen and this goes hand in hand with the growing population,” he said. “When Shimoni was here (Nile Avenue), Kampala’s day population was about one million people but now the number has increased to about four million people. So how do you accommodate these people? Where do they work?” he asked.
Mr Rajiv said as the city expands, schools can be established in growing suburbs to avoid pressure, especially in the city centre where many changes are inevitable. Both the teachers college and the primary school were controversially demolished ahead of the 2007 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting where government sought to build a five-star hotel to accommodate dignitaries. Both facilities were later relocated to Kira, Wakiso District. Mr Rajiv said the 13-floor building targets multinational companies, the middle-income group, government ministries and departments, and the oil and gas sector as their tenants.
The mall will have a restaurant, hotel, office space, a parking space of 500 cars, among others. Asked whether they are not worried of the low occupancy rate which many city buildings are grappling with, Mr Rajiv said as the city grows, so is the pressure on the available space hence the only remedy is towering structures. Mr Christopher Higenyi, the architect of the mall, said the designs were inspired by the demand by corporate companies whom he said want a serene environment. “Even when multinationals are looking for office space, they need space that matches international standards. However, much of the designs on this mall are made of our local products such as back cloth. This mixture makes it a beautiful place and we are happy that it has improved the city’s skyline,” he said.