Labelled by business experts as the first and the biggest indigenous Church-Private-Partnership (CPP), this church/business matrimony has given birth to a modern 21,000 square metre shopping mall in Kumasi.
Located right beside the Suame Roundabout, the $130 million project being constructed by the Consar Construction Limited is a collaborative effort of the Methodist Church, Ghana, the Asanteman Council and Retail and Reality Limited, with funding from financial institutions such as German Development Bank and the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development.
Dubbed Garden City Shopping Mall, it comprises a cinema, a water park, a 180-room hotel, a 2,500 metre square office complex and will be the Christmas present to the people of the Ashanti Region next week, since it would be ready for use in December 2016.
Although construction work commenced four months ago, representatives of the Methodist Church, the Asanteman Council and Retail and Reality Limited cut the sod to officially signify the commencement of the project at a colourful ceremony that attracted the crème de la crème of society.
Apart from other local companies and shops that would pitch camp at the Garden City Mall, internationally acclaimed retail points such as Shoprite supermarket and other retail companies would be around to offer first-class services and products to the people of the Garden City.
For construction alone, over 1,000 Ghanaians, both skilled and unskilled, would be employed during the period by the construction firm, Consar Construction Limited, and its sub-contractors. The project, when completed, will provide employment to about 1,200 workers.
Another unique feature of this multimillion-dollar project is the lead role of purely Ghanaian professionals and consultants, which affords them the opportunity to exhibit in concrete terms to the entire world their talents and expertise. The icing on the cake is the contractor, Consar Construction Limited, a Ghanaian contractor, making the project a wholly Ghanaian development.
Some fascinating features of the mall include a water park with swimming pools, slides and facilities for a children’s recreation centre.
According to the designers, because the land is very waterlogged, the team would turn this into an advantage by tapping the source of the existing stream and channelling this natural water into a water feature running along the whole frontage of the development.
Housed in a nine-story building, the three-star hotel would provide the proverbial Ghanaian hospitality laced with an international touch for businesses, revellers and tourists.
In keeping with the theme of its name, the Garden City Mall portrays its heritage by the inclusion of several ‘green’ features, notable among them being an extensive garden and a flowing stream on its north frontage. The stream is partially fed by ground water which is expressed on site as a natural well.
This water is circulated back from a reservoir which ensures that the water in the stream will have a constant flow throughout the year.
There is also to be a number of potted plants in the mall itself, all served by natural light which is let into the malls by way of extensive skylights placed strategically throughout the building.
The exterior component of the food court will also be provided with plants and trees. The parking areas are provided with planters between some of the bays, providing both shade and natural green areas.
Access to and exit from the site has been carefully planned so as to provide a free flow of traffic, even at peak times. These entrances and exits have been provided with extensive view and acceleration lanes, making the merging of traffic from the site with the traffic in the surrounding area almost seamless.
Parking bays have been provided and could contain 1000 vehicles at a time and have been arranged in such a way that none open onto the main circulation routes.
Commercial traffic, deliveries, etc. are made to use a route which is completely separate from that used by shoppers. The design of the traffic flow also allows for taxi ranks, bus and “tro-tro” stations.
Real Garden City
The architectural treatment of the building also reflects its ‘Garden City’ theme. The frontage is interesting and varied, making use of earth-coloured plaster work as well as a number of stone accent walls.
All large walls erected at the area will be decorated with aesthetically beautiful ‘Akwaaba’ sculptures, providing both a traditional Ghanaian greeting as well as blessings and good fortune for tenants and shoppers alike.
Just before the sod-cutting ceremony, the Vice-President of the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID), Dr George Agyekum Nana Donkor, and Mr Alex Bruks, the Executive Chairman, Delax Africa Group, signed a loan agreement for the construction of the mall. The ECOWAS Bank is providing a $20-million loan.
Giving his public seal to the project, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Asantehene, in a speech read on his behalf, expressed excitement at the project which he said would provide employment, pleasure and leisure for the people and boost the economy of the centre of West Africa.
He called for devotion to duty, loyalty and commitment by all those who were working at the construction site and other partners involved for a successful execution which would help to reduce congestion at the Central Business District of Kumasi and bring to an end, an era of selling on untarred pavements and undesignated areas.
The Administrative Bishop of the Methodist Church Ghana, Rt Rev. Dr Kwaku Asamoah-Okyere, commended Asanteman for allocating the land decades ago to the church and also helping it to maintain the land in spite of serious attempts by some people to take the parcel of land from the church.
He said the church shared the view that, “Whatever favours we obtain from the Lord, we are entrusted with them on this condition that they should be applied to the common benefit of the church [and the community at large].”
He said the construction of the mall was the affirmation of the church’s conviction which had always been at the heart of its commitment to relevance, adding, “It is this: Faith and economics are inseparable. Thus church, as a faith community, has a contribution to make in respect of economic life of community.