Old Mutual plans to turn commercial properties into residential flats

Old Mutual plans to turn commercial properties into residential flats

By Kuda Chideme, HARARE, January 24 (The Source) – Old Mutual Zimbabwe (OMZ) intends to convert some of its commercial properties in the capital into residential flats as demand for commercial space in the central business district continues to fall, a source familiar with the developments told The Source on Tuesday.

The company, which has a sizeable property portfolio with several office complexes and shopping malls dotted around the country is struggling with high levels of voids and defaults like many other property companies in the country as the economy continues to deteriorate.

In 2015, the value of OMZ’s property portfolio declined by seven percent from $439 million to $408 million.

An official with knowledge of the plans told The Source that OMZ had applied to the City Council for a permit which would allow the company to redevelop the properties for mixed use.

The properties earmarked for redevelopment are Old Mutual House and Finance House which are at the corner of Sam Nujoma and Speke Road.

“Such an application would take three to four months and it really should not be a problem given that they have done everything by the book. So I am pretty sure that we should be seeing some activity in that area in the second half of the year,” he said.

The Greatermans building along Sam Nujoma which houses Pick ‘n’ Pay’s flagship store on the ground floor, will also be redeveloped with a parking lot on the first and second floors but the store will be remain in place, the official said.

Last year OMZ pulled down another one of its idle properties along Robert Mugabe to make way for the development of a mall which will house small-scale businesses and informal traders.