Italian group pitches $30bn UAE smart city mega project

Development has no location yet but backers claim a significant amount of equity is already in place
Renaissance City will be a masterplan for smart city project for 30,000 residents in a 290 hectare space and will blend the cultures of the UAE and Italy
By Neil Halligan
Thu 10 Jul 2014 10:40 AM

A new $30 billion Italian smart city is the latest largescale development project proposed for the UAE. Unveiled at a press conference in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, the developers behind the project claim they are more than hopeful it will come to fruition as a significant amount of equity is already in place to finance the plans.

According to the promoters of the Sirei project, Renaissance City will be a masterplan for smart city project for 30,000 residents in a 290 hectare space and will blend the cultures of the UAE and Italy together, making it different from any city project in the UAE.

Included in the design of the project is 300,000 square metres (sq m) of retail space, 160,000 sq m of hotels, a total of 13,000 residential units and 260,000 sq m of office space.

Sirei, which is a group of Italian real estate companies led by company founders Massimo and Gianluca Mazzi and architect Paolo Caputo, presented the masterplan with a hope to develop the project somewhere in the UAE.

The masterplan, they say, can be altered or even downsized to suit any project that it may suit – including the recently announced Mall of the World.

With a significant amount of equity already in place, they are hopeful that the plan will come to fruition in the near future, but did not give any definitive timeline plans.

Ideally, they would see the city developed in Dubai, in conjunction with the Expo 2020 – possibly creating a bridge between it and the Milan Expo 2015, where Dubai’s event will be launched.

“We have already had some discussions with local companies,” Gianluca Mazzi, of Sirei, told Arabian Business.

“We have also had some suggestions and proposals, but still we haven’t decided the location.

“Of course, as everyone in real estate knows, location is the main factor of any development project, so it is something that we will need to evaluate very carefully.”

He said deciding the location will be based on two key drivers.

“One will be the vicinity to the sea or other environmental features that will allow us to keep the sustainability of the project, because that’s something that we do not want to waive. If you want a project that looks at the future, it cannot waive the sustainable part.

“Secondly is the market, because at the end we want this city full of people, living there and spending their lives, so we must make sure that it is a success on the commercial front as well.”

Already Sirei has the support of an American investment fund in place for the project, which they say will be developed in phases.

“The broad idea is that the overall cost would be $25 billion to $30 billion,” said Mazzi. “It would be developed in phases, so not all of the money will be required before selling to investors in one of the later phases.

“We see that the equity necessary for all of this is about one third. I am making non-detailed financial information, because it’s such a massive plan, I cannot go in depth.

“About $10 billion equity is required and the fund that is coming with us is about 30 percent to 50 percent of this equity.”

He said they have been encouraged by the interest shown in the project, and are more than hopeful that it will become a reality.

“It’s not only hope, but there are many hints that this project is very interesting for local partners. And it can be the whole project or part of the project, because speaking of location we perfectly know that we might find a fantastic location for the retail, or the healthcare, or the opera, but it’s smaller or inside another project. We can also make a single part of the project happen somewhere.

“This project is also detached in different parts, but if you want to obtain the experience, the ultimate target for us is to realise the full project. We can, however, consider smaller, thematic areas.”

Sirei will bring the project to potential investors in the UAE during September this year.

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Last Updated: Thu 26 Jan 2017 01:27 PM GST

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