Nigerian Developer Set to Build Africa’s Next Giant City
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
LAGOS, Nigeria—Africa’s cities are running out of land, prompting a real-estate developer here to erect what might be Africa’s ritziest district on a beach long known as a haven for day laborers and beer tipplers.
Developer Gilbert Chagoury, who has a gallery in the Louvre named after him, is developing Eko Atlantic, a city for 250,000 wealthy Nigerians on a landfill outside of Lagos.
The shacks that crowded the shoreline called Bar Beach are gone, replaced by construction tents. Families who squatted here were evicted. For the past four years, a Lebanese-Nigerian property developer has hosed sand into the ocean, creating new land for planned jogging paths, yacht jetties and condominiums with helipads for 250,000 opulent Nigerians.
The new Eko Atlantic township is emblematic of a booming business in Africa in which developers build walled-off cities for the very rich on a continent that is still the world’s poorest.
Developer Gilbert Chagoury, founder of Nigeria’s Chagoury Group, is the epitome of Africa’s moneyed class: Aside from a friendship with Bill Clinton, whose 1996 presidential campaign he helped fund, Mr. Chagoury boasts an ambassadorship from St. Lucia to the Vatican and a gallery in the Louvre named after him and his wife, both contributors.
Flush with funding from French banks that are enticed by Africa’s rapid growth, the 67-year-old Mr. Chagoury is aiming to cap his career with the most colossal real-estate project in West Africa.