• Monday, April 22, 2024
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BusinessDay

Posh neighbours, refined business

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 On a cool Saturday evening in April, Yomi Adeleke is strolling on Queens Drive in Ikoyi as it’s his custom. The lapping sound of the lagoon and the gentle breeze rustling the palm trees by the lagoon front have unexplainable effect on his psyche. He moved into Banana Island, a new neighbourhood at Ikoyi, a few months ago. He wanted to move close to “where it’s happening”, a place where he could be next-door neighbour to top blue-chip executives who currently dominate the Nigerian business scene.

Adeleke is one of the few people who are conscious of choosing a place to live. “I can’t live anywhere,” he says. “I have to think of living in a neighbourhood that will serve my business interest. Considering the nature of my business, I cannot afford to live far away from my associates. Not only that, I have to live close to my prospective clients, those who make things happen.”

Hence, for Adeleke, Banana Island is the latest kid on the block, a place where top business gurus in the country live. On the roll call are top executives of Etisalat, the chairman and chief executive officer of Phillips Consulting, among others.

Banana Island is an artificial island located in the Lagos Lagoon and attached to the south-western Ikoyi Island by a dedicated road strip which is linked to the existing road network. It was constructed by HiTech, the construction arm of the Chagoury Group, and is a joint venture with the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Works and Housing. The banana-shaped island is approximately 1,630,000 square metres in size (less than a square mile) and is divided into 536 plots (of between 1,000 and 4,000 square metres in size) mainly arranged along cul-de-sacs, so designed to enhance the historically residential nature of Ikoyi.

Residents are provided world-class utilities including underground electrical systems (unlike the overhead cabling common throughout Lagos), an underground water supply network, a central sewage system and treatment plant, and street lighting and satellite telecommunications networks. The developers also intend to develop a main piazza, a club-house, a primary and secondary school, a fire and police station and a medical clinic. They are also negotiating to build a 5-star hotel on the island, along with an array of smaller guest houses.

Derin Adefulu, a former corporate affairs executive, who currently resides at Lekki Phase One, says she would like to live on Banana Island because of its accessibility. “I like Banana Island because it is located at Ikoyi. I won’t get held up in traffic logjam while going to and returning from work. It’s convenient and it works.”

 However, those who reside in the Lagos Mainland but cannot afford the luxury of owning a home on the Island have also looked for alternatives to striking better business deals. Dayo Adenaike owns a private company on the Island, yet he lives at Ikeja GRA where he says good business deals abound. “We can’t all live on the Island and I am fully aware of the craze by some people to live on Banana Island. It’s a good development, though I still prefer to strike my business deal on the Mainland. Ikeja GRA, Shonibare Estate, Allen Avenue, Opebi, Adeniyi Jones are places where some of my clients live. Hence, I decided to live there.”

For Adenaike and people who think like him, their residential area determines the kind of clients they have in their kitty. “You can’t afford to live in some unknown area when you are targeting top business executives. The closer you are to them the better. They can just get to know about the kind of business you do by the mere interaction of your kids with their kids and before you know it a multi-billion naira business deal is knocking at your door.”

Samuel Adeoye, a resident on Queens Drive, Ikoyi, says his wife’s interaction with neighbours has opened untold business opportunities for him. “It works like magic. Your choice of residential area determines 65 to 70 percent of the kind of business you get. It’s about interaction and meeting those who make the Nigerian business scene tick. You do not only wine and dine with them, you speak their language, dress their style and live their lifestyle too. You have to live close to them. They will remember you before they remember any other person that may be introduced to them in the office.”

The lush environment, rich neighbourhood, sprawling lagoon front, great walkways, cool ocean breeze, uncompromising security have always been the attraction for those who live on the Island, but more than ever before, the person who lives next door counts.

The invasion of some residential areas like Ikoyi by top corporate companies also accounts for why some people are relocating to new places like Banana Island, Lekki Phase One and Two, Victoria Garden City, Goshen Estate, Pearl Garden Estate, Oniru Millennium Estate, among others.

A drive through Banana Island is more revealing. Good planning, well-laid lawns, large space, beautiful layout, rich architectural masterpieces, and, most importantly, access to the seaside endear residents to the estate. The environment speaks of sheer opulence.

The estate is an epitome of beauty and the layout shows that good things are hard to come by. Properties on this Island are very expensive. But those with the means go beyond mere wish to appreciating it. With plots arranged along cul-de-sacs and designed to enhance the historically residential nature of Ikoyi, residents pay through their nose to acquire, secure or maintain a property in the estate.

For a luxury apartment, intending residents pay as much as $130,000 per annum plus $15,000 service charge per annum. And the potential tenant will be required to pay two years’ rent in advance – that is, $260,000 upfront.

The high price of rental luxury apartment in Banana Island, Ikoyi should also give you an idea of the cost of land there. If rental price is dead expensive, there is no disputing the fact that land prices will be just as expensive. Land prices are in the range of between N150-300 million ($1-2 million) depending on the size.

Despite these ridiculously high rent fees, people still drift in their numbers to these new areas. Abey Omakiri, a resident, says the money he paid as rent for a flat in one of the luxury apartments in the new estate will get him a good four-bedroom bungalow in his hometown in Aboina, Rivers State. But his consolation is that the environment is cleaner and the air fresher than in other parts of Lagos, especially Mainland where rent is cheap. “I will pay anything to enhance my lifespan. Instead of paying less in poor neighbourhood to get infected, I’d better pay more to give my life the pampering it needs.”

Apart from the health advantage, some other residents say the proximity to their workplace is the most important reason to give out their life savings as rent to agents.

A lot of people wake up very early in order to meet their job demands and come back very late. In the process, they give less attention and affection to their families.

“I will rather do anything to see my boy live better than I. My childhood was spent in a poor neighbourhood in Agege, but my son has to feel the opulence of Banana Island at least for a generational change,” says Mike Ahieze, a resident, who is also a banker and businessman.

But Jide Adegoke, a real estate developer, says, “You actually get value for your money when you rent these expensive luxury apartments, especially if you work on the Island. The stress of driving through the unending traffic jam, the time wasted and the opportunity it denies one of sharing affection with one’s family are enough reasons to live on Banana Island.”

 

FUNKE OSAE-BROWN and OBINNA EMELIKE