Dubai's Meraas eyes late 2010 Pearl Jumeirah land handover

Investors to receive land by end of Nov with infrastructure to be completed by Q1 2012
LAND HANDOVER: Meraas Development will hand over Pearl Jumeirah land to investors by November 2010. (ITP Images)
By Reuters
Tue 05 Oct 2010 11:29 PM

Dubai property firm Meraas Development, which two years ago put its $95 billion flagship development on hold, is set to handover land from the project's redesigned first phase to investors later this year, an executive said on Tuesday.

State owned Meraas launched its Jumeirah Gardens project in October 2008 but, just two months later, announced it was reviewing the project's phasing and rollout as a result of the global financial crisis.

Meraas, which provides infrastructure and sells land for the renamed Pearl Jumeirah project, a man made island off the coast of Dubai, has already sold 45 percent of the sellable land for investors to build on, Sina al Kazim, the firm's chief business development officer told Reuters in an interview at this year's Dubai Cityscape.

Land will be handed over to the investors by the end of November while the infrastructure - electricity, roads, water and sewage - will be completed by the first quarter of 2012.

"Yes, it was part of Jumeirah Gardens but we re-masterplanned that particular section to bring ourselves in line with what the market required," Kazim said, adding that 90 percent of the land had so far been reclaimed.

He said: "Jumeirah Gardens initially had a different type of phasing strategy ... the first phase today we believe is this, the next phase we'll see what the market requires," he said adding that the landbank from the original project remained the same.

Kazim declined to give a revised value for the whole Jumeirah Gardens project or Pearl Jumeirah.

Meraas sold 45 percent of the sellable land around the time it began land reclamation, Kazim said, adding that 35 percent of the 10 million square foot island was for sale, with the rest set aside for landscaping, public facilities and infrastructure.

The offshore development had orginally been called East Bay when the project was first launched two years ago and was to be made up of high rise buildings, but will now be home to residential villas, a five star hotel and a retail area.

Dubai's once booming property market was hit particularly hard as a result of the downturn with billions of dollars put on hold or cancelled while financing for real estate projects all but dried up.

Developers across the Gulf region have had to rethink ambitious real estate developments to make them more viable in such difficult times.

Land buyers for Pearl Jumeirah were predominantly UAE nationals, but also included Indian nationals.

Kazim said: "We've also got very strong interest from Iranian nationals as well as from China and Taiwan."

"We've got very strong feedback (from potential buyers) in Cityscape. We know what the market is like. Gone are the days of queuing outside and selling the product in two days," he added.

Meraas is also developing an industrial project called Nadd al Hamar in Dubai, he said. (Reuters)

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