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Roma Park: First of its kind

The first mixed-use development of its kind in Zambia, Roma Park offers a modern and unique design that combines urban living, light industry and retail and commercial opportunities to investors and expanding businesses. With such openings on the horizon, Endeavour spoke with Muzingo Banda, Marketing and Sales Manager for the project, to investigate.

Located in the heart of Lusaka, just 2.5 km off the Great East Road, the Roma Park project is turning 120 hectares of land into a mixed-use residential and commercial development that will provide living, shopping, leisure and business properties in a fashionable new urban hub. Close to a railway line and key road networks and situated only 3km from Mandahill Shopping Centre and Mass Media, 6km from Lusaka town centre and 20km from Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, the development’s residential and commercial plots are in a strong position to create a buzzing and well connected hot-spot for Zambia. These plots are now standing ready, waiting for individuals and businesses to take advantage of this promise-filled new destination – in fact, the residential plots are already almost sold out.

The exciting development expects to draw together retailers, industrial companies and home owners alike. It is co-owned through CPD Properties Limited by the CPD Investments Group and Rendeavour, the latter being Africa’s largest urban land developer, and the former specialising in commercial properties. Between the two, this project is in good hands; Rendeavour’s portfolio includes previous city-scale developments in Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo, whilst CPD’s services include land acquisitions, property development, investments, disposals, renting, leasing and property management service, putting them in a strong position to operate as the key developer on this project.
In fact, CPD Properties is currently entirely focused on seeing Roma Park come to fruition. The company set the park’s wheels in motion in 2009, purchasing what was a bare agricultural plot labelled Farm 609. From there, they embarked on an impressive infrastructure rollout, preparing their new plot for urban life with the provision of water and sewage reticulation, electrification of the entire development, construction of over 10km of roads and the facilitation of fibre optic connectivity throughout the development. Building on this foundation, Roma Park has since transformed into one of Zambia’s first mixed-use developments and, through partnership with the Zambian Development Agency and backed by the Zambia government, one of the country’s first official industrial parks.

When complete, Roma Park will encompass mixed-income residential and commercial properties, including a retail mall, box retail, restaurant and conferencing facilities, warehousing, industrial, and office space. The construction was designed to occur in two phases, over a total of five to seven years. Beginning in earnest in 2011, the project infrastructure is now complete, and the finished plots are already selling well. This is good news for CPD; on top of holding the responsibility for the acquisition, masterplan design and infrastructure rollout, the company are also handling the essential aspect of sales. We spoke with Muzingo Banda, Marketing and Sales Manager, about CPD’s target market: “Our residential customers are middle to high income working class/business people, as well as property development companies. Meanwhile, our commercial customers range from light industrial, warehousing, retail and business commercial companies.”

For investors, Roma Park offers an ideal placement for anyone in the residential, retail and commercial, warehousing and manufacturing sectors. It seems that Muzingo’s target audience share that view – whilst plots are still being developed, over 300 completed plots have already sold, including over 98% of the residential plots currently on offer! In 2016, Roma Park also branched out into building its own residential houses for sale, with two different modern designs available. Roma Park even already boasts its out restaurant, The Retreat, which turns the finest Zambian ingredients into a memorable fine dining experience – the first of many such locations to add spice and colour to this budding urban build.

With a product and development this hot, CPD and Rendeavour have not only had interest in terms of sales. Companies have been keen to get involved and the project has also been supported by a small army of loyal suppliers and consultants, including DLC Townplanners, Electronic Survey Automation, Rankin Engineering, Unik Construction and KVA Power Solutions. Lusaka Water & Sewerage Company and ZESCO have been fully engaged as the government utility providers.

Whilst Roma Park was a first, a good idea soon catches on, and as the project has evolved, CPD have found a few copycats on their horizons. Muzingo elaborated: “The real estate industry in Lusaka is growing steadily. Roma Park was Lusaka’s first mixed-use gated estate, but there have been several competing projects that have mushroomed around the city. Competition is present, though we only have a few competitors with high end residential offerings. However, the commercial sector is highly competitive, with a lot of office space within the area where Roma Park operates, coupled with people’s preference to operate in the central business district as opposed to moving away.”

Could these commercial competitors be beating Roma Park to the finish line? Given their healthy sales thus far, it doesn’t look like CPD should be too worried. However, Muzingo is conscious of the challenges they must face, listing slow economic growth within the country and region, high interest rates on mortgages, and for CPD itself, the excessive cost of infrastructure development. That said, she is confident: for one, the costs of infrastructure construction may have been high, but the result of this is infrastructure of the highest quality standards. For another, whilst there is rivalry from builds closer to the city, they do not share Roma Park’s access to the airport and other nearby shopping centres.

However, her confidence also comes from the CPD team, and the entire team working on Roma Park: “We are an experienced and innovative development team who have successfully executed our plan and met customer satisfaction.” CPD Properties currently has 90 employees in total working on the Roma Park project, whilst those working on Roma Park in various capacities from outside of CPD average at about 1000 people per day. For Muzingo, this cooperative, collaborative approach is key: “We are working together, one body with different body parts, striving towards one goal.”

Finally, CPD are confident in their knowledge of their market, and most importantly, believe in the quality and importance of what they are selling: “We have a specific target on who we want to sell our product to and we have given ourselves realistic time frame in which to sell Roma Park plots. We try to differentiate ourselves from the upcoming gated communities and industrial parks. We provide quality and deliver as promised. We believe that what we have to provide is more than just a house or a home – it is a lifestyle.”