New commercial business hubs and plazas are now the popular thing for property owners in Abuja with many of the structures now dotting the city centre. Moving along some of the busy areas in Abuja such as Wuse 2, Ahmadu Bello Way, Gwarimpa estates, Olusegun Obasanjo Way among others, Daily Trust observed that there are several newly built business hubs on these popular streets in the heart of Abuja despite low patronage in renting the shop spaces. Most of them were seen empty due what those spoken to describe as high rent the developer must have placed on them.
A developer who didn’t want to be identified told Daily Trust that he owns a plaza along Ahmadu Bello Way on which he has spent over N60 million to build and contains about 40 shop spaces. He said he had to pay through the nose to acquire the land on which he erected the build.
“Most times when a developer builds a business hub to modern standard and puts it up for rent with a high amount, you don’t blame him because even the building materials he used to built the property are high in prices. Also, calculate the bags of cement, sand, rods and other materials you will need from the scratch, the prices are not encouraging,” he said.
When asked how much he would rent out each shop space in the plaza, he said a shop goes for N900,000 to N1 million depending on the floor of the building.
A property agent along the Wuse 2 axis, Chidi Azuibike, who also spoke with Daily Trust, complained of low patronage last year as people couldn’t afford to pay very high amount to rent a shop space, adding that they don’t recover their money through their businesses at the end of the year so for them there is no gain.
“If you look at most of the shops on this street, you will find out that they are empty. Some of the shops in the plazas haven’t even been occupied ever since they were built. Some have stayed empty for over two years because of the high amount of rent the owners have placed on them.
“For example, if I am to acquire a shop here for N1.5 million to sell fabrics, tell me how I will be able to recover the rent within a year from the fabric business and renew the rent. So, what happens mostly to these people doing business here is that once they pay for the first year and are not able to make it up by the end of the year, they pack up.
“But a man must struggle to feed his family. So what people do these days is to come together and rent a shop space and with that you will see a shop being occupied by 2-3 business owners so that at the end of the year, they split the rent and pay,” the agent explained.
Azuibike called on developers to reduce the annual rent placed on properties so that, they too as agent would be able to make their little fee out of the annual rent fee.
Some properties along Gwarimpa estate were not left out as they were being converted from residential to business hubs as well. Daily Trust gathered that the converted properties are much cheaper in price as a shop space goes for N500-600, 000 per annum.
A business woman who sells female outfits complained of low patronage despite paying through her nose to acquire a shop in Gwarimpa. She said she had to increase the prices of her goods so she will be able to meet up what she has paid for rent at the end of the year, and called for reduction and regulation in the annual rent fee, adding that the demand from property owners is too high and could bring down businesses.