Apr 03 - 09, 2006

Rafi Group has become a household name in the field of real estate development. Its projects have won acclaim for aesthetic appeal, excellent architectural planning and top-class construction material. EMPRESS TOWER is the latest architectural venture of Rafi Group, which has been completed and possession is being handed over to its buyers. Centrally located near Simla Hill at the intersection of important roads - Empress Road, Davis Road, Egerton Road, Abbot Road, Durand Road - it promises to be the most prominent high-rise building of its kind on Empress Road and its prime location is what the Group is boasting about

The Rafi Group has given the city some magnificent commercial arcades and housing schemes and has been in the land development business constantly for the past 27 years earning its credibility and broad based clientele successfully,

The brains and driving force behind the Rafi Group is the personality and vision of its Chairman, Imtiaz Rafi Butt - a debonair, energetic, warm-hearted person in his early fifties. The writer had occasion to talk to Imtiaz Rafi about his recently completed project EMPRESS TOWER, the idea behind the establishment of the Rafi Group and the mushrooming of shopping centres.

Q. You began with Rafi and Zaitoon Plazas on Hall Road. For the last many years you have been concentrating on Gulberg, Garden Town and Jail Road. Why have you moved back to downtown Lahore?

A. Firstly because EMPRESS TOWER is the first serious attempt to provide an office-cum-commercial and residential facility in this part of the city. No such facility exists there at present. Its central location, select ambience and proximity to several key points in the city will be most advantageous both from the customers' and traders' point of view. As a case in point, EMPRESS TOWER is very close to the railway station is, in fact, the main entry point for traders / customers who come to Lahore from distant parts of the Punjab and they would surely welcome the presence of a trouble-free, spacious commercial centre like EMPRESS TOWER so close at hand to meet their business requirements. Retail / Wholesale shops have a wonderful future in this multi-purpose complex. Besides, there is the added facility of beautiful and cosy apartments for shop owners who may want to live in the same block or precincts. Secondly, Empress Road and its neighbourhood is rapidly coming up as a vibrant financial district, having major airlines and travel & tour related business, with tremendous potential for growth. Moreover, Lahore is a fast growing city in the 21st century at a time when the world trend is towards a free market economy. With the promise of an investment-friendly climate in Pakistan and bright chances of joint ventures, multi-national companies will, drawn to this city. Empress Road and its environment have tremendous potential for growth and we have, therefore, shifted our focus to this part of Lahore.

Q. What are its special features?

A. EMPRESS TOWER have offices, apartments and a sizable shopping arcade. Three floors have been reserved exclusively for shops. These floors will be interlinked through over a dozen staircases and connections and will appear to be a "three-in-one" compact unit. Movement from one floor to the other would be effortless and the customer will hardly notice that he has sauntered by from one floor to the next. The complex will be a compact covered unit and meet all the requirements of the customers under one roof and will emerge as a complete shopping-market of its own kind. Two complete basements have also been set apart exclusively for car parking. There will be ample parking space - even in the future.

Q. There is a general impression that apartments are unsuitable for the Lahori way of life where the absence of a "Vehra" is unthinkable. Given this premise will your apartment scheme be successful?

A. This myth has since been exploded. The apartments in our previous projects LANDMARK and CENTRAL PLAZA sold out sooner than expected. The response was enormous. Otherwise, too, it is extremely expensive to live in a centrally-located area like the one around Simla Hill other than in an apartment. EMPRESS TOWER is offering its customers apartments on very attractive terms and prices to suit their budget - something that the customer, in view of the low prices, might well be able to afford. For this and other reasons, like the low maintenance cost of an apartment as compared to that of a house and 24 hours security, Lahorites are fast becoming apartment-minded and there is tremendous potential in this field in the foreseeable future.

Q. How are your projects more distinguished than those of others?

A. Rafi Group is a company with a passion for excellence and uses human, financial and technological resources skilfully to attain that excellence. Its team functions under a management whose business philosophy is geared to the achievement of highly specific and viable goals. In the operational area, the delivery of high-level quality services, use of innovative management techniques and systems are the keys to the achievement of desired results.

Q. What is your viewpoint about shopping centres?

A. Shopping is more than just buying what you need. Building a shopping centre is not just putting together walls and floors. Modern concept of shopping demands that the public be guided into purchasing through better display and interest-creating arrangements. What is happening to-day is that shops of various sizes are put side by side without a thought to their collective effect. The developers care only for the space that can be sold and thus destroy the overall quality of shopping. No wonder most shopping centres in Lahore present a deserted and neglected look.

In EMPRESS TOWER, Rafi Group's most prestigious presentation till date, Imtiaz Rafi Butt has tried to translate this dream into reality. Rafi Group's Project Director, Hasnain Raza stands completely and fully committed to it.

"Problematic challenges", he says, "become opportunities and yield to successful solutions when backed by a right combination of hard work, imagination, initiative and good common business sense".

According to S. A. Kazmi, its Finance Manager, EMPRESS TOWER would be "a profitable investment as the terms and price is very attractive. In view of the overall economic situation, EMPRESS TOWER offers the best prospects for investment in the coming years."

Considering these factors it would not at all be surprising if EMPRESS TOWER proves to be yet another landmark in the distinguished record of the reputed Rafi Group.