Jumeirah Gardens On TrackFriday, October 09, 2009
The first residents of the phenomenal Dh350 billion Jumeirah Gardens project could potentially move in within the next two and a half years. Jumeirah Gardens was launched at last year's Cityscape event and was amazing both in terms of ambitious design and outrageous cost. While Meraas has seemingly kept a low profile this year, in fact a lot of work has gone on behind the scenes, reassessing the masterplan and talking to investors. In hindsight, October 2008 wasn't the best time to launch a new project, especially one of this scale, however Sina Al Kazim, chief business development officer of Meraas, said that he had no regrets. "Not at all. The launch gave us a good name and since then, we've gone to banks and re-strategised and we've spoken to our investors to try and meet their requirements," Al Kazim said. The masterplan of the project is now being revisited."It's about quality not quantity. Of the visitors to the stand, around 70 per cent are serious investors and are looking for a good opportunity in the right location.
It's in line with investor demand, it's what the market is looking for," Al Kazim told Gulf News. The masterplan is also now flexible enough to withstand more changes depending on how the market performs going forward. Attention is first being focused on one of the islands of the projects, the 7.5 million square foot East Bay which is being redesigned "for today's market". The island will comprise freehold residential units, including townhouses and villas, retail space and will also feature a 200-room, five star hotel. The hotel has been bought by an investor and the operator will be announced in November. About 55 per cent of East Bay has been sold and funds will be received in line with construction milestones. Original plans for towers and a hospitality are no longer the focus. "Infrastructure is a priority. [With] the Metro launch, our landbank is within close proximity to Metro stations. As long as the infrastructure is sound, real estate will also be sound," said Al Kazim.
Meraas has started reclamation of the East Bay island and hope to complete it by the end of 2010. "The island will be completed within a year and within to two and a half years residents will be living on the island," said Al Kazim. While housing on the island is aimed towards the higher end of the market, Al Kazim said that his company will look at buildings based on gaps in the market, such as affordable housing. Townhouses on East Bay start at a surprisingly reasonable Dh650 per square foot. There were set to be six islands in total when complete, including the commercial island, a 'mini-Manhattan'. However, development on these will start once demand is proven to be there. When East Bay exceeds around 75 per cent and demand is still there, construction will go ahead with the rest of the islands and also the towers on the mainland.Source: Gulf News