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Many local, foreign investors expected:

City in the sea at Galle Face





 An artistís impression of the proposed port city at Galle Face

Sri Lanka would build a city in the sea which is bigger than Male, the capital of Maldives, at Galle Face Green. This would, for the third time, change the contours of the island nation.

The first time this happened was when the Ruhunu Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa International Port was opened last November when sea water was taken in for the port. This was followed by the Colombo South Harbour development project which would add a 6.2 kilometre breakwater and reclaim over 400 acres from the sea.

The Urban Development Authority (UDA) and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) are now planning to reclaim land from the sea and build a 500-acre plus port city under the Galle Face development project, which would once again change the landscape of the country.

The project has already received approval for environmental issues and construction is expected to commence by the end of the year. The project is to be completed in three years.

One of the key players who would carry this mammoth task forward, Chairman, UDA, Janaka Kurukulasuriya said that the project is expected to cost around Rs. 30 billion and the funding would come through the SLPA as well as from investors. "We are also hoping to conduct some pre-sales," he said.

With the 30-year conflict coming to an end with the humanitarian operation, Sri Lanka is fast becoming a paradise for investors as well as for high-spending tourists. "This was one reason for us to launch this project."

The other reason to build this city on the current location is to support the new Colombo South Harbour. "Though a breakwater is built, the waves could have an impact on the smooth floor of the Colombo South Harbour development project. This proposed 500-acre development would also act as a buffer," he said.

Harbour extension

The proposed buildings that would be built in the port city would also help the extension of the Colombo Harbour.

The Chairman outlined that they would build this port city, mainly targeting the private sector, both local and global. "Once we get the project off the ground, we would market it globally", he said.


MPs Namal Rajapaksa and Duminda Silva with Chairman UDA, Janaka Kurukulasuriya laying the foundation stone for the multi-storeyed housing complex.

The port city would be the best landscaped property in the island.

First, a second breakwater would be built in front of the Old Parliament. "This would be at sea level and would not be visible to the public. This would serve as a buffer to the proposed harbour city", Kurukulasuriya said.

The next step would be filling the reclaimed land and would commence from the outer side of the Colombo South Breakwater.

He explained that both Colombo South Harbour development and port city projects would stretch up to the Old Parliament building and the view from Galle Face Green would not be affected in any way.

The Lotus Road, which lies between Galadari Hotel and the Old Parliament building would be extended to the sea from the roundabout, creating a four-way junction with a bridge.

"The bridge would run over the sea and be the access road to the new property," the chairman said.

The new property would be divided into three segments-one to house offices, the second for residential purposes and the third for leisure.

In the area proposed for leisure, a yacht marina, a mini duty-free shop and Customs office would be built. This itself would be a mini international harbour.

The land would be provided for investors for leisure activities and many international hotel chains along with local investors are expected to invest.

A golf course too is planned to be built.

A second suspension bridge would be built in the centre of the city.

The area of the city adjoining the Colombo South Harbour would be reserved for offices and the maritime sector and many maritime investments are expected to be made here.

Several private universities and educational institutions too are expected to invest in the project.

Twin towers

The ongoing construction work of the Colombo South Harbour development project overlooking the Galle Face Green.

Kurukulasuriya said the Secretary of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa is very keen on this project and has infused many new ideas to make the city more colourful.

The architects of the project are designing a mini Petronas (similar to the one in Malaysia) at one end of the proposed city.

This would be two buildings with around 40 floors each. Each tower is to be built separately and joined by a sky bridge either across the 30th storey or the rooftop.

The idea of building two separate towers is to provide a view of the sea.

The twin towers would be allocated for mixed development and a foreign investor has already forwarded a proposal for this project.

He said the concept of building on land reclaimed from the sea is also being practised in Dubai and has got a very good response. "However, in Colombo, more planning has to go in to the project as the sea is not as calm as in Dubai. "This is one reason we are building a breakwater," he said.

Galle Face development

The surroundings of Galle Face Green are to be developed while keeping the old heritage aspects intact. The buildings of the Presidential Secretariat, Finance Ministry and Galle Face Hotel would be refurbished.

The Army headquarters facing the Galle Face would be shifted to a new location and a five-star hotel built there by Hong Kong-based Shangri-La hotel chain. This deal has already been finalised.

In a bid to provide more entertainment to the Galle Face Green area, an underground mini market has also been proposed.

The Chairman said that clearing out slums from the city too is an endeavour they have undertaken.

The UDA has identified slums in Maradana, Kotahena, Borella, Bloemendhal, Mattakkuliya and even in Colombo 7.

The slum-dwellers would be provided with apartment houses in high-rise complexes in the Western Province. These houses would have electricity, pipe-borne water and other 'luxuries' the slum residents would never have even dreamed of.

The first such housing unit would be built at Kaduwela for which the foundation stone has already been laid.

"However, we must emphasise that the slum-dwellers would not be relocated to their new houses until they are completed."

Kurukulasuriya also stressed that these people would not be given accommodation in Avissawella or such places far away from Colombo. "However, if they so request, we could provide them houses outside Colombo."

Fort to be developed

He said in a bid to beautify the city and to add more recreation facilities, the land opposite the World Trade Centre would also be developed.

Work on this project is under way and the cleaning and widening of the pavements are now in progress.

"Many of the roads in the area that remained closed would be reopened which would reactivate business in the area," he said.

The UDA would also construct a parking area for vehicles which is a crying need at the moment.

New walkways are to be developed and a mini park too would be put up.

He said aspects of the old heritage of the Fort would be maintained.

The Colombo City is changing into a modern international city of which all Sri Lankans can be proud of. The new developments would bring the country even closer to the goal of the Wonder of Asia.

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