The Urban Development Authority (UDA) has decided to upgrade the Colombo Arcade premises under a public-private partnership and introduce a number of new features to provide a better quality service to the public.
The Arcade Independence Square Complex was developed when the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was the Secretary to the Ministry of Defense and Urban Development under the then President and current Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. This arcade complex was not properly maintained under the previous good governance government.
Softlogic, one of Sri Lanka’s leading business entities, and the Urban Development Authority recently signed a lease agreement to lease this out for the first time.
The lease agreement, which will be in effect for a period of 10 years, was signed at the auditorium of the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing, Suhurupaya, Battaramulla by the Chairman of the Urban Development Authority, Chartered Architect Harshan de Silva, the Director General of the Urban Development Authority, Chartered Urban Architect Prasad Ranaweera and the Chairman of the Softlogic Company, Ashok Pathirage, and the Vice Chairman of Softlogic Haresh Kumar Kaimal
The signed lease agreement is valid for a period of 10 years. Accordingly, Softlogic reserves the right to operate freely, except for the ownership of the arcade premises. Under this, all services including management, maintenance, operations and use of buildings are permitted. In addition, Softlogic is vested with the right to establishment of suitable businesses for the premises, including cash control.
The four and a half acre arcade complex consists of 42 shops.
In the post-war period, the primary focus was on urban development in order to establish an accelerated development plan for Sri Lanka. Under this, there was a need to re-establish the present city of Colombo as the old city of Colombo and to preserve and maintain the existing traditional buildings in Colombo. Accordingly, the Arcade Premises was set up to preserve the Independence Square premises and the surrounding areas as open spaces where people can move freely while preserving their antiquity.
Another objective of this is to get rid of the ‘islanders’ tag used to define the Sri Lankan community by implementing more modern urban development plans while preserving the antiquity of the city.
Secretary to the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing Sirinimal Perera stated that the Arcade Independence Square owned by the Urban Development Authority will be leased to Softlogic for a period of 10 years subject to an annual tax.
“We are confident that they will improve this. We hope that the arcade will emerge from its current state and embark on a highly successful development journey,” he said.
The Ministry of Urban Development and Housing states that the leasing of the arcade complex owned by the Urban Development Authority in Independence Square, Colombo to Softlogic, one of the largest companies in the business world will fulfill the main objectives of encouraging different business locations and business owners within the arcade premises and improve the businesses.
The Ministry of Urban Development and Housing also believes that Softlogic will provide a more affordable and quality service to all customers, without compromising on traditional, new sales boundaries and identifying customer needs.
Softlogic also hopes to introduce a more competitive business opportunity by protecting and further enhancing the business owners who remain in the arcade premises.
Ashok Pathirage, Chairman of Softlogic said it is hoped to transform the Colombo Arcade premises into a luxury market. “The Colombo Arcade is the best building you can find in Colombo. Leasing of Arcade Independence Square to Softlogic under Urban Development Authority is, the best example that can be given to define private public partnership. We can be really proud of that. It is our intention to develop this arcade complex into a luxury shopping mall. We believe that this process should be done in a transparent manner. Here we have a responsibility to protect transparency from beginning to end. Our company does this work not just for foreigners. It is also active for Sri Lankans. Our designs are also active for fresh outdoor celebrations and high quality weddings. The highest quality hotels are also included in the plan. We cannot do all this overnight. It may take three or four years. We need your support for that. We are confident that we will also receive that support through private-public partnerships with the Urban Development Authority.”
In particular, both sides believe that the experience gained in recognizing the ever-changing business world will not be difficult to achieve through the private common coexistence program launched jointly by the Urban Development Authority and Softlogic.
“Softlogic Pvt. Ltd. currently has a number of powerful business opportunities in the business world. Sharing all that with the arcade business community working with Softlogic will be another refreshing experience for the business world. The Arcade Premises is not an isolated place, it is a crowded environment so it is easy to invite customers to this environment and all the business owners on the premises have everything they need.”