July 13, Colombo: Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa today declared open a new upmarket shopping complex at the Independence Square in the posh neighborhood of the capital Colombo.
The "Independent Square Arcade" was constructed by converting the old office complex of Auditor General's Department into an upmarket shopping mall under the Phase two of Independence Square Renovation Project.
The special project under the Colombo city development programme has been completed at a cost of Rs. 550 million by the Ministry of Defense and Urban Development under the instructions of Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
Renovation of the historical building which was constructed in 1799 during Dutch colonial rule of Ceylon has been carried out by Sri Lanka Army and Navy preserving its original architecture.
An area of 90,000 square feet has been developed with attractive commercial buildings covering 40,000 square feet and a public garden to attract foreign and local visitors. The renovation has been completed within a short period of 2 years adhering to the green concept.
The shopping complex will comprise 42 high end shops selling some of the world's well-known brands. According to the Chairman of Urban Development Authority Nimal Perera, all the shops had been given to local businessmen.
Under the Colombo city development programme, the government is converting old office buildings into high end shopping enterprises while preserving the old architecture to attract upscale local and foreign tourists.
A similar shopping complex was built and opened in 2012 October in the old colonial building of Colombo Racecourse after renovating the building to preserve its historical value and the colonial architecture under expert architectural design.
Earlier the Urban Development Authority renovated the old Colombo Dutch Hospital in Colombo Fort that was built by Dutch colonial rulers in 18th century as a modern trade complex.
(Photos by Sudath Silva)