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Port City land sales to begin first half of next year

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CHEC Port City eyes US$ 2bn investment for two financial building complexes
UDA to sign lease agreement with CHEC Port City early next year
Development regulations for Colombo Port City to be gazetted shortly

Land sales of the Colombo Port City is set to begin within the first half of next year with both government and the project company preparing to float the tenders for land plots, Mirror Business learns.

CHEC Port City, a subsidiary of China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), expects around US$ 2 billion worth investments for the two building complexes at Colombo International Financial City (CIFC) next year, according to sources.

CHEC Port City has already signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Sri Lankan government to develop a US $1 billion worth building complex at CIFC, and the firm is planning to draw another US$ 1 billion for the second building complex.

The United State-based Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM) has already been awarded the design contract of the building after being selected as the winner of a global competition to design the master plan for the first building complex.

Urban Development Authority (UDA) Chairman Dr. Jagath Munasinghe told Mirror Business that UDA plans to sign the formal lease agreement with CHEC Port city early next year, in order to allow the firm to carry out land sales. “We have to sign a formal lease agreement with CHEC Port city. Once that happens, the company can call for proposals. However, it involves a lengthy process from getting the approval of the Cabinet to completing the land registration with the Land Registrar,” he said.

Out of the liveable area of 178 ha, 116 ha of Colombo Port City will be leased to CHEC Port City on a 99-year lease, as per the tripartite agreement signed between UDA, CHEC Port City and Megapolis and Western Development Ministry.

The Colombo Port City was established as an urban development area recently under the Urban Development Authority (UDA), bringing all development activities in the reclaimed land under the purview of regulations and supervision of the UDA after it was declared as part of the Colombo district.

The Cabinet of Ministers last month approved the proposal to call requests for proposals (RFPs) to build a hotel, convention centre, hospital and an international school at the State-owned land plots of Colombo Port City.

“We are planning to call for proposals by early next year. The documents are being finalised at the moment,” Dr. Munasinghe said.

He noted that the developers will be chosen through a competitive bidding process.

Further, he shared that a new entity will be established to manage the activities of the Colombo Port City as a joint venture between the government and CHEC Port City.

The UDA also plans to gazette the development regulations for Colombo Port City shortly.

“The draft is being prepared now. It needs to be approved by the UDA planning committee and consequently it will be gazetted,” Dr. Munasinghe noted.

The government has also announced to introduce a comprehensive legal framework for CIFC to bring in regulatory frameworks for foreign investment and the functions of financial institutions within CIFC.

The draft of the special law, which has been ready for sometime, is likely to be submitted for approval of the Cabinet after the presidential elections and further it is likely to require constitutional amendments.

The CHEC Port City has invested US$ 1.4 billion in land reclamation and infrastructure development of the Colombo Port City project. The firm is currently engaged with infrastructure development work following the completion of land reclamation early this year.

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