Sri Lanka’s built environment has come a long way from its economic and geopolitical troubles in the 2000s. With the days of the civil war behind it, the teardrop-shaped island also known as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean has magnified its wealth, a largesse inevitably funneled into real estate and asset ownership. The headcount poverty rate has fallen to 4.1 percent in 2016, a far cry from the 23 percent recorded in 2012-13. Last year, the GDP per capita in this nation of 21.4 million stood at USD4,065.
Infrastructure projects are changing the face of the island. From the Western Province Megapolis to the Bandaranayake International Airport extensions, the government’s major initiatives over the last three years have positioned the insular country front and centre on investors’ radar.
These initiatives are intersecting seamlessly with the private sector’s own efforts. The following are just a sampling of the ventures leading the pivot to modern Sri Lanka:
1. The One
This supertall will truly put Sri Lanka on the map for positive reasons. At 376 metres high, The One will be taller than anything built in South Asia upon its completion in 2021. Jutting out of Transworks Square Colombo 1, the skyscraper will rise beside two no less majestic buildings housing The Ritz-Carlton Hotel and The Ritz-Carlton Residences. Together the edifices will offer 4.5 million square feet in built-up space, including a shopping mall. Residents can protect their units with biometric access systems and even commute in the sky; the project features a helipad.
2. Port City Colombo
The country will at the very least be on China’s map. Port City Colombo, a USD15-billion reclamation project, is both an ongoing extension of the Sri Lankan capital and a strategic maritime link between Asia and Europe along China’s modern Silk Road. It could be the most aspirational sliver of real estate in the city: home to 5.6 million square metres of built-up space comprising grade-A offices, hotels, healthcare amenities, retail and lifestyle destinations, and more. Sprawling for 269 hectares, Port City Colombo will be divided into different precincts: Colombo International Financial City, Central Park, Living Island, Marina and the International Island.
Rising 68 storeys and 240 metres high, Altair will also rank among the tallest buildings in South Asia. Up for wins in the Luxury Condo Development (Colombo) and Luxury Condo Architectural Design categories at the 2018 PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards (Sri Lanka), the project enlisted renowned architect Moshe Safdie no less for design duties. The 404-unit development consists of two towers, one upright and the other seemingly leaning upon it — a future icon of the Colombo skyline, indeed. Pradeep Moraes, director at Indocean Developers, the company behind Altair, is the winner of this year’s Sri Lanka Real Estate Personality of the Year award.
4. Cinnamon Life
Cecil Balmond, the designer behind the ArcelorMittal Orbit in London and the CCTV headquarters in Beijing, is lending his quirky sense of élan to Cinnamon Life, one of the most stylish, futuristic integrated resort developments in South Asia. Cinnamon Life will feature an 800-room, five-star luxury hotel, in addition to 427 premium residential apartments. The development by Waterfront Properties (Private) Limited, a member of the John Keells Group, will also have a 30-storey state-of-the-art office tower; 295,000 square feet of shopping and entertainment spaces; and 115,000 square feet in event venues. Cinnamon Life “will be like nothing Sri Lanka has ever seen,” Balmond said.
5. Capitol TwinPeaks
Winner of Best Condo Interior Design at the recently concluded 2018 PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards (Sri Lanka), Capitol TwinPeaks are a pair of 50-storey condominium blocks rising above Staple Street in Colombo. The 435-unit twin towers feature curated options for open-plan concepts and closed kitchen layouts. “The colours inside are reminiscent of its natural surroundings, and the Zen garden on the 50th floor is a highlight,” judges at the awards noted. Singaporean interior designer Index Design Pte Ltd ensured high ceilings for both standard and penthouse units alike as well as American walnut hardwood for bedroom floors. The project by Capitol Developers – Sanken Group also won the Highly Commended award for Best Luxury Condo Development (Colombo).