MASHONALANDHoldings has signed a memorandum of understanding with Touch Road International Holdings that will see one of its buildings in the CBD Charter House being converted into a 5-star hotel.
The 5-star hotel will have about 80 rooms that will be complemented by various state-of-the-art restaurants and will gobble about US$12 million.
Harare has about 2371 rooms combined at a time when one of the biggest conference rooms (HICC) in the city is a 4500 seater meaning there is a huge deficit for rooms making the coming in of the 80 rooms from Charter House is a welcome development.
Addressing delegates during the signing ceremony in at Meikles Hotel in Harare, Mashonaland Holdings Limited managing director Gibson Mapfidza said Charter House has been overtaken by events to continue offering commercial offices as evidenced by low occupancy levels.
“At a Harare CBD macro-spatial level, most buildings, like Charter House, have gone past their effective economic life. In fact the property owners will have to ask themselves whether or not these buildings are still assets as they should be.
“As a result of the foregoing factors and others the highest and best use of Charter House is no longer commercial offices. This is evidenced by the current low occupancy level of the building and certainly Charter House is not alone. I should however hasten to say the building structure is very robust, functional and outstanding. For this we remain grateful to our yester year designers and builders.
Mapfidza added that his organisation’s role today is to make the CBD work again and put their buildings to their today’s uses and that this this triggered Mashonaland Holdings to carry out a research based on local patterns and international standards.
He said, “What came out clear is in line with modern urbanite living patterns and the possible uses as prescribed by the Harare Combination Master Plan Number 22, a hotel use, permitted through Special Consent Application, give the current highest and best use for the site.
“With the above realisation and after government made it abundantly clear that in the short to medium term the economic growth of Zimbabwe will be hinged on three sectors namely tourism, mining and agriculture, Mashonaland Holdings Limited, being a listed Real Estate Investments company, immediately identified tourism as a sector to partner the government through development of the necessary building infrastructure. This signing ceremony is, therefore, a culmination of engagements we have had with the ZTA and Touch Road International,” he said.
The company applauded the middleman role played that was played by Zimbabwe Tourism Authority in connecting the two partners.
Speaking at the same occasion Touch Road International Holdings chairman He Liehui said when he first saw Charter House he fell in love with it and his organisation is ready to transform the 61-year-old building into a beautiful young land.
“When I first saw the building (Charter House) I loved it and it’s a beautiful building, its 61 years old but we are going to turn it to a beautiful young lady.
“We have Tour Africa-New Horizon which is going to be bringing thousands of tourists and so we said we also need to have our own facility to offer best quality services as well.
“The President of Zimbabwe when he visited China he said Zimbabwe is open for business and we are here because we want to be the early bird,” he said.
In a speech read on her behalf, Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira said the project is significant as it comes at a time when the city is facing accommodation challenges.
“This development is indeed a significant one as it comes at a time when the tourism industry in Harare is in dire need of revitalisation, new offering and above all a need for additional luxurious smart hotels.
“This MOU signing occasion is really a testimony of the Zimbabwe Open for business mantra. Ladies and gentlemen there is nothing as uplifting as transformation of a very old structure 61 years old into a smart modern cosmopolitan building, there is no greater way to embrace our heritage,” she said. Mashonaland Holdings chairman Ronnie Mutandagayi revealed that this new development signals the entry into tourism real estate sector by Mashonaland Holdings Limited–