Exclusive: SmartCity Kochi Infrastructure Ltd CEO Manoj Nair said the company has held preliminary talks with some of the leading hospitality majors and real estate firms
SmartCity Kochi, the futuristic Indian IT project being promoted by the investment vehicle of Dubai’s ruler, is currently looking for a joint venture partner to help it build a five-star hotel at its site in central Kerala.
In an exclusive interview with Arabian Business, SmartCity Kochi Infrastructure Ltd CEO Manoj Nair said the company has held preliminary talks with some of the leading hospitality majors and real estate firms for the hotel project but nothing has been finalised yet.
“International hospitality chains are interested in taking up management contract of the hotel. So, we are now scouting for a developer for the project,” Nair said.
“We are also open to join hands with financial investors, including those from Saudi or UAE to execute the hotel project on a joint-development mode.
“Since we own the land, the company can join hands with a financial investor, with part of the land being our contribution in a co-development venture for the hotel project,” he added.
The five-star hotel project at SmartCity Kochi, which will also have a service apartment attached to it, will be built on a 9.5-acre plot within the township.
“We are actively in discussions with few financial investors who are evaluating the opportunity to invest in the building infrastructure (of the hotel-cum-service apartment), Nair said, without disclosing the names of the investors or their groups.
Dubai Holding, the investment vehicle of the emirate's ruler, holds an 84 percent equity stake in SmartCity (Kochi) Infrastructure Pvt, which is a mixed use township project on 246 acre-land in Ernakulam, central Kerala.
The remaining 16 percent stake in the joint venture is held by the Government of Kerala.
The project is being developed on a ‘walk-to-work’ concept, with a township with all social infrastructure and other amenities, including multi-sports complex and a multi-transport hub.
SmartCity Kochi already has an international school set up by GEMS, part of the UAE-based Varkey Group.
The project also has entered into a co-development agreement with Sands Infrabuild, part of the Abu-Dhabi-based LuLu group International, to build a 152-meter high IT-twin towers, touted as South India’s tallest IT twin towers.
The LuLu group-promoted IT tower project is expected to be completed by December 2020.
SmartCity Kochi has also tied-up with leading Indian real estate company Confident Group for development of a massive residential project in its township.
“So far we have attracted investments to the tune of $525 million in the SmartCity Kochi project and we expect another $700 million investment for development of both IT and social infrastructure projects in our next phases,” Nair said.
The entire project is to be completed in five phases. The IT corridor of Kochi is expected to generate about 500,000 IT jobs.
The first phase of the project is already completed with a built up area of 650,000 sq ft, which houses offices of leading multinationals including Baker Hughes (part of GE group), EY, Gadgeon, IBS and, N Dymensions.
Nair said there are no plans for either Dubai Holding or the Kerala Government to dilute their stakes in the joint venture, and that the SmartCity Kochi project is on schedule on its planned development of the IT-cum-township project.