At a gala event at one of Dubai’s plushest five-star hotels, investors wait outdoors in the sweltering summer heat for a glittering fireworks and light show to mark the completion of the latest addition to the emirate’s crowded skyline.
Technical hitches have led to a delay of one-and-a-half hours to the opening ceremony, but when you have already been waiting eight years for the iconic Infinity Tower, what is another 90 minutes?
It has been a long and winding road for the project. Since its launch in 2005, the 75-storey residential development has faced numerous setbacks — not least due to the structural challenges posed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill’s architectural decision to have the building twist 90 degrees from its base, giving the tower the appearance of a distressed Coke bottle.
The collapse of one of Dubai Marina’s walls in 2007 led to the site’s foundations turning into a 27-metre deep swimming pool, subsequently taking nearly two years to fix. Various completion dates have come and gone since — the most recent in October 2012 — while Infinity has also been subject to an eleventh-hour name change to Cayan Tower, in honour of the project’s developer Cayan Group.
Dave and Ann Whiteling*, both from Britain, paid nearly AED2m for a two-bedroom property when Cayan first launched sales in 2005, having already handed over 100 percent of that sum to the developer. They plan to use their apartment in the distinctive building, which overlooks the Arabian Gulf, as a holiday home.
“We’re just relieved that it’s finally done,” Ann tells Arabian Business. “Some people have been waiting just as long for apartments that will probably never see the light of day,” she adds, referring to the bursting of the emirate’s real estate bubble in 2008, which saw prices plummet by up to 65 percent overnight and countless projects delayed or scrapped altogether.
The couple says that they almost gave up on the development ever being built when the site was flooded in 2007, an incident which they claim they only became aware of via online news articles, rather than from Cayan itself. At one point they were offered the chance to take delivery of their property minus a functioning electricity connection.
The couple say that they were not aware of the tower’s last-minute name change from Infinity until the new moniker was beamed up the side of the building in 300 metre-high lights at the opening event.
In light of all the setbacks over the past eight years, Cayan’s chairman and president seems understanding when asked, half jokingly, if the building’s protracted construction schedule is finally at its end. “The building is finished, and if you don’t believe us we have a certificate of completion from the government to prove it,” Ahmed Al Hatti beams.
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