By Kibo Ngowi
“We identified a gap in the market,” Appleby’s Director Batanani Nkhumisang tells me when I ask him about the vision behind creating the iTowers development. iTowers was developed through a partnership between the developers Tredinnick Botswana and ODE while Appleby’s is responsible for the sale and letting of space in the buildings.
“We wanted to create a development which could accommodate residential, office and leisure – basically a place where you live, work and play all in one area.” Mixed use developments are somewhat of a growing trend in Gaborone. A few years ago the city had no real developments of this kind to speak of but now there are at least three high profile mixed useproperties in Botswana’s Capital City.
One is Masa Centre, located a short walking distance down the road from iTowers, and the other is BDC Tower, located on the other side of town in Fairground Office Park. Along with iTowers, all three offer a mix of leisure, retail and residential space but Nkhumisang insists that iTowers remains the best option.
“Clearly, in terms of location, you can’t compare other locations to the CBD,” says Nkhumisang. “CBD is the hub. It’s where everything is going to be, both in terms of business and living. Secondly, iTowers offers spectacular views, in terms of height. iTowers South is going to be significantly higher than all other buildings in the city. So you’re paying for a premium space here and I have no doubt that it remains the best.”
When the first building of the iTowers development (iTowers North) was opened in 2013 it was easily Botswana’s tallest building with an elevation of 19 storeys but the second building (iTowers South), which is almost completely pre-sold and is at an advanced stage of construction, will dwarf it at a height of 28 storeys. There is also a three-storey building called the Hub located in between the two towers.
Built at a cost of aboutP200 million, iTowers North is predominantly commercial with most of the building being taken up by office space; the ground floor has a few retailers such as a coffee shop, salon, travel agent and other shops, while the first floor is for restaurants. There is currently only one restaurant, Liban, which serves Mediterranean cuisine, but another restaurant, which will cover two thirds of the floor space on the first floor, will be opening before the end of this year. Sky Lounge, a café with some of the best views in Gaborone, thanks to its placement on the top floor, is a big attraction for the tower but the most intriguing space in the tower is one very few people get to see – the penthouses.
The building has four penthouses all positioned on the 16th and 18th floors. Each penthouse covers a around550sqm (an average low-cost house in Botswana only covers around 150sqm). This includes four en-suite bedrooms, a spacious kitchen, and a roof terrace on the 19th floor.
Two penthouses will be available on short-term letting but Appleby’s is still working on the pricing, while two are owner-occupied.
Nkhumisang says he is happy with the performance of the first tower as all spaces in the building have been sold except for three units. What usually happens is that an investor will buy a space and then use Appleby’s to find a tenant to occupy the space. Appleby’s didn’t deal with any one particular bank to support the investors who acquired spaces in the building; a variety of financial institutions supported the acquisitions. Interestingly, the construction of both the first and second tower has been entirely self-funded by the developers Tredinnick Botswana and ODE.
Expected to reach completion by February 2016 at a total cost of roughly P200 million, the 28-storey iTowers South will be a departure from the business model of the first tower as it will contain predominantly residential space. “From our experience on the first tower we realised the demand was in residential so we quickly changed our concept for the second tower,” says Nkhumisang. He goes on to proudly declare that the building was 98% pre-sold before the earth works even begun so there are only six units remaining. The residential units in this tower range from P850, 000 upwards.
When the second tower reaches completion next year, iTowers will have solidified its place on the Gabz City skyline.
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