To date, the WTC Colombo remains the most coveted business address, towering over banks, hotels, government institutions and major public transport terminals.
Pravir Samarasinghe, Director and Chief Executive Officer of Overseas Realty (Ceylon) PLC, reflects on the successes and impact of the iconic World Trade Centre Colombo. As the defining landmark of the central business district of Colombo celebrates 25 years, Samarasinghe shares insights into why it continues to blaze a trail in the commercial property sector.
The World Trade Centre is an iconic landmark that defines the character of Colombo. Can you take us through the property’s journey?
The remarkable story of the iconic World Trade Centre began more than two decades ago when a visionary entrepreneur and property tycoon Mr Shing Pee Tao, the founder of the Shing Kwan Group of Singapore, dared to believe in the future of Sri Lanka and its commercial capital, Colombo. His World Trade Centre project would define the heights to which Colombo could emerge as a plush and sophisticated commercial hub for the region, becoming an indelible benchmark for high-rise commercial property in the country.
Mr Tao’s deep attachment to Sri Lanka took root in the late 1950s with several business interests in commodities and shipping, culminating in the acquisition of Overseas Realty (Ceylon) Ltd, a listed company on the Colombo Stock Exchange which owned an undeveloped plot of land in Colombo. His $130 million investment to build 39-storey twin towers that would become the first A-grade office property in the heart of the central business district of Colombo was the largest foreign direct investment at the time.
Driven by this passion, Mr Tao brought in one of the leading construction companies in the world, Turner Steiner of the USA, to construct the Twin Towers. Since commencing operations 25 years ago, the impressive and formidable office towers continue to define Colombo’s skyline, housing the largest business-to-business network under one roof and offering a corporate ecosystem comprising world-class infrastructure with many modern conveniences and amenities.
WTC Colombo is the exclusive license holder for the global World Trade Centre and WTC trademarks from the World Trade Centers Association. The World Trade Centers Association is a distinguished global brand facilitating international trade with its influential network of over 325 World Trade Centers spread across 100 countries.
As the Chairman of Overseas Realty, Mr Tao led the company for over three decades until his passing away last year. He left behind an enduring legacy that continues to grow in significance.
What makes WTC the best business address in Sri Lanka?
To date, the WTC Colombo remains the most coveted business address, delivering the best in design, facilities, and services, located in the heart of the central business district, in close proximity to all major banks, hotels, private and government institutions, and major public transport terminals.
Housing the largest B2B network under one roof, WTC Colombo has a prestigious tenant base numbering over 200 local, international, and multinational brand names, including the Colombo Stock Exchange, the Securities Exchange Commission, and the BOI of Sri Lanka.
As the most intelligent building with smart infrastructure in the country, WTC Colombo is a one-stop shop for its tenants and visitors. With in-built services such as airlines, banks, business suites, data centres, food & beverage, medical centres and a gymnasium all under one roof. It is also the most energy-efficient commercial building in Sri Lanka, winning many coveted awards for sustainability over the years.
The twin towers will continue to evolve and grow in relevance and modernity. Therefore, WTC Colombo represents an enduring endeavour to keep abreast with new concepts and technology and maintain its status as a futuristic benchmark for high-rise commercial properties. To provide superior facilities and services to tenants and visitors, we completed an ambitious refurbishment programme in April 2021, including retrofitting all major MEP Systems and upgrading all interiors.
Tell us about your relationships with your tenants. Can you profile them for us? What is the secret to establishing long-term relationships with tenants?
Endorsing its reputation for delivering the best experiences, facilities and services to tenants, WTC Colombo continues to attract prestigious local and multinational companies. Today, the build – ing houses leading loyal clients such as Huawei Technologies, Glaxo SmithKline, E&Y Global Delivery Services, Lanka IOC, Mitsubishi Corporation, Deloitte Consulting, Valible One PLC, Bharti Airtel, China Harbour Engineering Company, Asia Broadcasting Corporation, etc.
As the owner, manager, and developer of the iconic World Trade Centre Colombo, Overseas Realty continues to dominate the office market bringing extensive expertise, domain knowledge and experience to its real estate development and management.
What is your outlook for the property sector? And what is next for Overseas Realty (Ceylon) Plc?
I am a fervent believer in the Sri Lankan property market. I am even more bullish on the growth prospects for Sri Lanka, despite the unfolding economic challenges that we can overcome.
Political stability, economic growth and business confidence are crucial elements for the property sector to flourish in any country. However, Sri Lanka’s regional prospects in tourism, logistics and services over the next decade are as enticing and exciting as ever, inspiring all of us to work together to emerge from this current economic crisis.
With WTC and Havelock City, I believe we have set the foundations to enable a transition into a modern economy, redefining living, working, and doing business for a new age.
Havelock City Residential Complex comprises eight residential towers with 1100 condominium units built in four phases. The sale momentum of completed luxury apartments in its final phase is very encouraging.
We are excitedly looking forward to opening the Havelock City Commercial Complex comprising the 50-storey Mireka Tower with 600,000 sq. ft of A-grade office space and the Shopping Mall with a mix of fashion, food and beverage, entertainment experiences and more