Filling in lakes could improve JLT: property analysts

Replacing the lakes with community facilities would enhance area but not affect prices
The executive chairman of Dubai Multi Commodities Centre, Ahmed bin Sulayem, has said he would like to fill in all of the four manmade lakes and build other amenities.
By Courtney Trenwith
Sat 20 Jul 2013 09:50 AM

Replacing some of the lakes in Jumeirah Lakes Towers with community facilities would improve the living environment but would be unlikely to impact on property prices, according to real estate analysts.

The executive chairman of Dubai Multi Commodities Centre, Ahmed bin Sulayem, has said he would like to fill in all of the four manmade lakes and build other amenities.

‘Lake C’, in the northern end of JLT, already has been filled in and a 55,000 square metre park including an amphitheatre and basketball court are due to be completed there by the end of the year.

Bin Sulayem announced this week part of ‘Lake A’, in between clusters A, B and M, also would be replaced with a mosque and car park.

Head of UAE research and consultancy at CBRE Matthew Green said replacing all or some of the lakes with community facilities would improve the area in the long run, although some residents and investors may be “disgruntled” during the construction period.

“Having community facilities is going to be a far more practical use of the land area than the current lakes,” Green said.

“If you’re an investor though, maybe you’ve bought on the premise that you’ll be having a lake view when you’ll have a park view instead, [although] I don’t think investors would differentiate too much between those. I wouldn’t expect to see too much fluctuation among buyers [before and after the lakes are filled in].”

Green said a park and running track in Jumeirah had proven popular and most residents expected such facilities, which don’t presently exist in JLT.

“I think over all it’s a positive move [but] there will maybe still be some disgruntled residents [because] their current view will be turned into something else and the construction you’ll have while they develop that,” he said.

“From a developer point of view, as well, it’ll probably help [DMCC] manage running and maintaining the lakes – they’re probably quite costly for them and without really receiving any benefit.

“From their point of view, they could look at ways of creating additional revenue from the park area.”

Priyesh Patel from Dubai-based agency Aston Pearl Real Estate said recent investors had welcomed the idea of filling in the lakes.

“It’s really personal preference,” Patel said. “A few of the buyers who’ve bought [JLT properties] from us recently have said there would be more outdoor space and they like the idea; we’ve had a positive response.

“I’m not saying sales have shot up - they haven’t bought for that reason; [they’ve bought because] JLT is still well priced.

“I’m sure it’ll have a good impact over the long-term when everything is done.

“But with Jumeirah Lakes Towers being the name, it should have some lakes in there.”

Spokesperson for property website dubbizle.com, Ann Boothello, said potential changes to property value would depend on what replaced the lakes.

“When an apartment has a lake view it's always deemed as a plus, adding value to these units. However, if the lakes are not treated and maintained, then it will surely prove detrimental in the long-run,” she said.

Boothello said adding a school, hospital, entertainment centre or sporting facilities would make JLT more self-sufficient but already problematic traffic concerns also had to be taken into consideration.

“Self-contained communities tend to maintain healthy property values,” she said. “If the economy takes a hit, the prices may drop, but less in comparison to other less equipped communities and eventually recover faster than others.

“However should they plan to replace one or two of the lakes with anything that is expected to lure more people to the community, they need to think of easy access to and from these spots if they truly want to add value to the community and ensure price levels are not affected.

“Residents and JLT property owners are highly unlikely to appreciate anything that further agitates traffic flow. Ensuring that the community comprises of all necessities such as schools, hospitals, and supermarkets creates convenience if the road infrastructure is in place. So if it is well-planned it could have a positive impact.

“If not, prices could see a drop and become less attractive as a residential community, similar to the likes of Jumeirah Beach Residence.” 

During an interview with Arabian Business last week, Bin Sulayem said it was unlikely all of the lakes would be filled in.

“The only lake that I think will be untouchable is the one facing the Dubai Diamond Exchange [because of] the view,” he said.

He had earlier told a press conference, “It’s no secret, I hate lakes. I love more efficiency.”

Responding to criticism on Arabian Business, Bin Sulayem insisted he would consult the community before changing any more of the lakes.

He is yet to reveal details of the new mosque, with the announcement brought forward following the reports about filling in the lakes.

In a statement on Wednesday he said it would cater for 1000 worshippers, including 300 women in a separate, raised platform, and it would be named after Uthman Ibn 'Affan, one of the companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

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