Radwan Dakmak presents the quality office building A Atlantic Tower

Interview with Radwan Dakmak, CEO of Meridian Group

Why did you convert serviced apartments into a commercial building?

The original plan was to have a serviced apartment building in the complex of the Atlantic Tower therefore they would complement each other. Visitors or short-term staff who come to Accra to work for multinational companies could use accommodation that is located in the same complex. But due to the 2020 pandemic, we decided to put the concept of serviced apartments on hold until we saw how things would change. Many companies now have employees working from home, even in Ghana, and the number of expatriates flying into the country has been drastically reduced, so the demand for serviced apartments attached to commercial buildings has also fallen. That’s why we decided to convert the serviced apartment building into a commercial building. The other thing that prompted us to do this is that the Atlantic Tower is fully occupied and because there is a need for more office space, we figured we might as well add more commercial offices. The general market trend is still slow, but there are companies in Atlantic Tower looking to expand, which also prompted us to convert the serviced apartment building into a commercial building.

What kinds of trends do you see in the market?

We have EDGE Certification for Excellence which proves that Atlantic Tower was built with good quality materials and is energy efficient.

We are in an uncertain environment. Due to the new variant of COVID-19, flights to and from South Africa were affected. The world is now a global village and a problem somewhere can have a ripple effect. Stocks have gone down all over the world; the price of oil has fallen and all of that in one way or another is affecting us in the business world. We need to be very careful and careful before making any trading decisions, especially in immovable because the costs involved are enormous. In our case, we had already spent a fortune designing the property as hotel apartments, then suddenly the pandemic came and we had to change everything. We had to demolish a lot of structures that were in place to convert it into a commercial building. You can’t keep changing in terms of design. Now that we have moved into the commercial space, we need to continue to the end. The key to success is adaptation to the current situation. The coronavirus is likely to continue to mutate, so we need to adapt.

There is a demand. Atlantic Tower 1 is full, and we have probably 25-30% occupancy demand in the new structure which we can secure immediately if there are no more big changes happening in the world.

What are the advantages of choosing Atlantic Tower?

Number 1 is Airport City which is one of the best locations in Accra for commercial real estate. Number 2 is quality and that is why we have the EDGE (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies) certification of excellence that we obtained two years ago. This proves that Atlantic Tower was built with good quality materials and is energy efficient. Number 3 is the service we provide. We are at the top of our game, we have maintenance staff who make sure all of our customer’s needs are met. Number 4 is our pricing. We have lowered our rents by about 25% because we understand the market conditions. We have a tenant at Atlantic Tower called Regus. It is a global provider of serviced office services, and can rent space for a week, a month, two months or as long as businesses need when they come to Ghana. They occupy approximately 2,000 square meters which have been subdivided into smaller areas that can meet shorter-term business needs.

Who are the other tenants of the Atlantic Tower?

Nestlé is our biggest tenant. They moved from one of the properties in the area in 2020. There is Aker Energy, one of the largest oil and gas companies in Ghana. We also have British Petroleum which has a smaller office. There is a Spanish company called GB Foods which has factories all over Africa and it is headquartered in Central Africa located in Ghana. We have VFS, the visa issuing company, Omni Bank which is a local bank in Ghana, and car showrooms for Ford and BMW. Both are represented by the Tractafric concession in Ghana.

In addition, in tower B we have Turkish Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Meridian Port Services and Baj Freight.

Atlantic Tower

How much space do you expect to have in 2022 when the conversion is complete?

Right now Atlantic Tower is fully occupied and that’s one of the reasons we want to convert Tower B into office space. We believe there is a demand and when it does we should be able to fill it, especially since we will be using the same quality materials that we used in Atlantic 1.

It will be a higher quality Class A building similar to Atlantic 1 and we believe we will do the same, if not better. New designs have been developed which we will be implementing in Atlantic 2. This will actually be an upgrade from Atlantic 1.

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