This is a story yet untold. It has been a while since buildings similar in design have been rising up and decorating the skyline of the city. Then, a young Maldivian brimming with ideas of design and concepts of innovative luxury apartments stepped foot in Hulhumale' with a unique purpose in 2016. The fruit of his labour, the 14-storey "K Park residency" building towering over the Central Park in the reclaimed suburbs, is by no mean ordinary.
With all the features of a "true luxury apartment", K Park Residency is a tree blooming and blossoming from a seed planted in the Maldivian soil by this youthful local and renowned Hanbo Tech Company of Korea.
Are you interested to know who this individual is?
Who built K Park in his wonderful mind?
Hassan Mamdhooh (Mandey) has been frequently seen out on the streets at political protests and events, a loyalist to influential political leader Gasim Ibrahim. Would it surprise you if I said Mandey is the man behind K Park, the building to which life is slowly being breathed into? The very building that is changing the very face of luxury apartments in Maldives?
When I first asked Manday about the brains behind the building, he did not give me an answer. On the second day, when I repeated the same question, he bent down and picked up a safety helmet at the worksite of K Park and put in on his head. He then turned towards the construction site and proudly declared to me, loud and clear - "I am the man behind the K Park".
This is the point at which he began sharing untold stories about his journey into K Park.
"One day I was out apartment hunting with Sampath [the veteran football player]. None of the apartment were within my budget. All had extremely high rents and extremely large advance payment amounts. Because of these prices, I had a eureka moment where I suddenly wanted to get into the real estate business. I then asked Sampath more about how the real estate business works."
Manday recalled that his barrage of questions on real estate seemed to annoy Sampath, therefore, he decided to leave the topic for the time being and re-visit it when he was alone with his thoughts.
"The same day I had the urge to learn how the top real estate businesses in the Maldives operated. I looked into Platinum. I researched their apartment sizes and prices online and on their website, and that was all I could talk about. That is the moment I started dreaming of finding investors to back me in building a luxury apartment"
In just a few days, Manday sketched his dream luxury apartment building in his mind. Even back then, Manday had his own company, his partner of business being Ismail Latheef (GK). With Manday's non-stop chatter of a luxury apartment building, GK himself was inspired and finally said "let's do this" and gave the green light to begin their vast project. Manday recalled no one had taken him seriously before that, with almost everyone giving a monotonous and bored acknowledgement of his idea.
"I knew what was happening even then. It is easy to ignore an unimportant "nobody" who comes out with big ideas of a big building. It dint help that I was an activist", said Manday.
GK's short sentence affirming his faith in Manday was like music to his ears. His partner's small words had a mighty affect on Manday's strive. Although the road ahead seemed long, his purpose was finally as clear as day. He then set off to Economic Ministry to present his idea.
"When I went to the ministry they basically laughed at me and said, how are you planning to do this? Where is the money? Ware is the human resource? They kept mocking me. At that time, the only answer I had to their questions and mockery was, "I am willing to work for this. I didn't have a better answer, and I then left the building", revealed Manday.
Depressed with the Economic Ministry's icy response, he then went to his longtime aide and guru, Gasim Ibrahim. He relayed his ideas and dreams to Gasim, who urged him to "stand up on his feet".
"This is what Gasim said: I can give you the funds. But if someone gives you the money, there will be no other way but to continue taking money from people. Try standing up on your feet. Show the world that you have the capability to do this on your own."
A new resolve
Manday said Gasim's words strengthened his resolve, and as a result, he dived back into finding a way to make his dream a reality with new-found enthusiasm- but the progress was slow. With no new developments, the most he was able to do was sip tea and continue to talk about his plans.
"Things trudged along until I traveled to Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka, I met a friend working in the Sri Lankan army who put me in contact with a Korean party, The Koreans wished to invest in the Maldves, not in my apartment project but in pursuing a solar light project in Hulhumale. I worked with them to help them pave their way. While helping them out, I pitched my idea for a luxury apartment to them and proposed their investment. These are not people whose line of business is real estate, nor did they have any interest in the field. They were solar generators."
Manday outlined the market for luxury apartments in the Maldives, and ways in which the business can be expanded. The owner of the company listened to him attentively and asked him to send a proposal.
"That was when I took the drawing of my dream building, which was simply laying around after the initial rejection from the Economic Ministry, to the Korean group. After listening to my proposal, they expressed their interest in the project and gave their green light!"
Manday admits he was able to prepare the proposal with the assistance and support of some friends and acquaintances, including a friend working in the Housing Ministry at the time. After reeving the go-ahead from the investors, the time then came for Manday to go from one institution to the other, seeking the next steps for his project. Not one person guided him in his endeavor, instead, obstructed his path by giving seemingly "great ideas:".
Manday faced further challenges and pressures from the government. Every single one of them tried to remind Manday that he was "just an ordinary person", and that such ordinary people cannot pull off and succeed with such huge projects- that it is unbelievable that a Korean tycoon was willing to partner with a local "activist boy" in building a business.
"Nobody guided me in the right direction. Everybody just kept giving me ideas that would ruin me. In the end, when I got the green light to go ahead with the project after much effort on my part, the tables tuned. Suddenly everyone wanted to get behind me. They started giving pointers and guiding me", said Manday.
"What I realised was, everyone wants a particular person or group to be affiliated with this project. I believe that is the reason I why I received so much backlash the government".
The establishment of K-Park Residences
After much pressure and turmoil Manday's project was finally on its feet. Now came the stage where a name had to be finalized for the much-anticipated building. Mandey's friends came up with the name "M-Park", a tribute to Manday and also keeping in mind the Korean roots behind the building. However, the name was rejected by Manday, after which he went ahead with "K Park Residence", a branding that GK came up with.
"Now that the name and branding were finalized, we proceeded with the next steps and were met with more conditions. The government kept showing us reasons why we cannot pull off the project while HDC kept coming up with excuses after excuses. Finally, we were all set to sign the agreements with HDC. However, even in that window of time, HDC prolonged the signing for long hours, keeping me waiting along with our Korean partners up to the point that my partners started to feel concerned", related Manday.
Friends and family
While the K park building is being adorned and completed in its final stages, Manday says his friends and family played two different roles in his journey to establish himself as a "big business man" - a mighty evolution from a "mere activist".
While Manday's wife, dad and siblings always had his back throughout his journey, his friends also helped him along the way.
Then again, there were enemies disguised as friends and families waiting for an opportunity to foil his plans.
"Not many people knew what K-Park really was. What they knew was that it is a Korean establishment with a Maldivian partner, although not many were aware of who the partner was. I didn't want to let them know I was behind K-Park either. I went to the K-Park office only when necessary. However, of the people who were aware of my involvement were several people who wished to sabotage my work and reap the benefits of my turmoil themselves. This includes friends, family and the government"
While there were disloyal friends, those close to him advised him to avoid a situation like "Sea Life Global" and encouraged him to stay true to his dreams. They urged him to be an honest person and not to give up on his dreams.
Then, a very special friend found him a third partner to help him in his affairs - This is where Ibrahim Nasheed, popularly known as Kutti Nasheed comes into the picture.
Kutti, who initially came onboard the K Park project to assist Mandey in the design process is now a vital part of the K park team, involved in all aspects of the project. Manday said the project was blessed with Kutti at a time when going forward seemed difficult and work was at a standstill. Kutti came into the picture and revolutionized the whole project, praised Manday. Before Kutti joined, only three inexperienced 19-yer olds were working with Manday. The Korean company wished for new staff to be trained, and the young talents were recruited for the purpose. Now, these three employees are experienced in their field, and can readily secure high paying jobs in the field.
"K-park is a new, innovative concept. These three young individuals assisted us when we were in a dark place. I was able to trust them even with all sorts of bullets coming at us. They are the true pillars of K-park", said Manday.
"Then there is GK, Naappe and Kutti. This project was build from scratch with no investments or funding in the initial stages. Saambe from Personal Computers made a set up for us. Gasim Ibrahim provided his unwavering support"
A grand scheme to reap benefits?
When Manday first tstarted working on the K-Park project, he received a lot of backlash from the government and HDC, mostly due to his reputation as an activist. A familiar face on the streets, having once landed in jail due to a protest, Manday's dream proposal was not something the government could easily digest. Nobody accepted his plans as "solid" work.
"Many government officials and several businessmen said Manday is schematizing to get his hands on the money of his investors. This includes some friends and relatives as well. Some people called me an idiot. My proposal was actually thrown inside the Ministry. However, today, those who mocked me then are now restless to meet me. Even political figures are now approaching me to seek funding for their campaigns".
Manday said his wife had to give birth pre-term to his twin children via a c-sec abroad at a critical point iin his business. On one hand, both children were admitted in the nursery. On the other hand, the project was commencing back in Male', with vultures circling and eyeing the project.
"I shed tears, I had no choice. On one side were my wife and my two babies; on the other hand were the million entrusted to me by a prominent Korean businessman. In that difficult situation, my wife urged me to go back to Male'. She told me to prove my loyalty and honesty, she told me to take care of what had been entrusted upon me".
His partners undying faith and trust
Manday is quick to admit that K-Park became a successful project, not because of his own intellect but because of the trust placed in him by his Korean partners. He believes the success of his project is owed to his honesty and transparency with his partners.
Those who approach investors are usually after an ulterior motive: They take advantage of the investors , and purposefully fails the project in the end. Manday was careful not to let this happen.
K Park's style and elegance
The images of K Park Residence that won the hearts of the public during the Livin' Expo held last month was exactly what Manday had envisioned in the beginning stages of his mega-project.
While the project is nearing completion after almost three year's hard work, this luxury apartment building with its own unique features is getting ready to make its debut. The project was slightly delayed due to last minute changes brought to the design of the building in order to accommodate a roof-top swimming pool, adding to the uniqueness of the building.
"Right when the re-design was completed, the contractor backed out. This was also the result of so-called friends and family interfering with the project. A Thailand contractor also backed out. There were so many circumstances where one would have gone crazy and given up. However, I always prioritized making my unique luxury apartments a reality. This is what is being completed now", said Manday.
The design of the apartments prioritizes the spaciousness of the apartments. The balconys of the apartments are enough to leave you in awe.
When the word "luxury" is used to describe an apartment, most people think this has to do something with the finishing works and the fittings installed in the apartment. K-Park will bring an end to this misconception. The silk wallpaper used in the Presidential Palace will be used in K-park apartments, and renowned Korean brands such as Samsung and LG products will be installed in the building. Even the locks of the apartment are smart locks from Samsung!
Mock-up apartments of the apartments that will be available for purchase will be ready for viewing within this month. The semi-furnished apartments will then be completed according to customer requrements.
With 2 room apartments of 1200 sq-ft and 3 room apartments of 1500 sq-ft, the same cement used to build the brand new Sinamale' bridge was used to construct this mega structure. K part is one of the fastest building to have completed it's structural works, second only to Dharumavantha Hospital. The building is not only luxurious, but also the strongest building in Maldives at the moment. By the time residents move in, the building would have settled to the ground completely. The building was designed keeping in mind the humidity and the weather of Maldives.
K-Park is a mix commercial development. The building, with day cares and gyms will also have several other surprising features, in addition to commercial outlets in the first floor of the building. With an in-house Korean franchise restaurant and special event space on the terrace, one can take in and enjoy the scenic beauty of Huhumale City from the K-Park building.
Manday, the activist who was apartment hunting yesterday is no longer "an ordinary man". He is now the owner of the great K-park luxury apartment building - the sweat and brains behind K-Park Residences.
No. of storeys: 14
No. of apartments: 110
Types of apartments; 2BHK and 3BHK
Size of the building: 21,000 sq ft
Commercial use: 2 floors
Parking: Ground floor with option to buy parking space
Residential use: 11 floors
Event space and swimming pool in building terrace
Day care centers and gyms
KoreAn style franchise restaurant
Apartment prices between MVR 3-6 million
Can make payments through BML
Semi furnished with Korean brands
Solar energy for building lights and lift
Five passenger lifts, including a stretcher lift
Tiles and glass with temperatures that adapt to the environment