Damac says 40% of Versace-linked tower sold

Developer says still in talks with investors in stalled Dubai Palm Springs project
Damac says 40% of Versace-linked tower sold
Units in the 23-storey Damac Tower start at $700,000
By Elizabeth Broomhall
Tue 06 Dec 2011 10:09 AM

Damac Properties, the real estate developer behind Dubai’s Ocean Heights and the Waves, has sold more than a third of units in its Versace-branded tower in Beirut, its CEO said Monday.

The Dubai-based firm has secured investors for almost 40 percent of Damac Tower’s apartments, after signing a deal with Italian fashion house Versace to oversee the interiors in June last year.

“In Lebanon, we mobilised the site in 2010, we launched in June 2010, and so far, although being a very premium project in an area which is still under a lot of political turmoil, our sales are very good,” said Ziad El Chaar.

“Versace don’t get involved in the exterior look of the building, they just want to make sure the exterior is premium enough to carry the brand. They get involved in the design of all the common areas, and then they add a touch of Versace to all the individual apartments.”

The 28-storey tower is currently under construction in downtown Beirut, and will be completed in the last quarter of 2013. Apartments start from $700,000.

The project is one of three Damac developments with designs by Versace Home, but the first to be completely fitted-out by the Italian fashion house.

Privately-held Damac was among Dubai’s most prominent real estate developers during the Gulf emirate’s property boom from 2006-2008. The collapse of city’s real estate market after the onset of the global financial crisis forced the company to delay a number of projects.

Damac in August offered investors in its stalled Palm Springs project a partial refund, after work on the Nakheel-owned master plot, Palm Jebel Ali, was suspended.

Investors told Arabian Business they had been offered a 70 percent refund of their deposit upfront, or 25 percent immediately followed by a further 25 percent annually for the next three years.

Palm Springs was designed to be a 25-storey beachfront development located on Palm Jebel Ali. The offshore island stalled in the wake of the emirate’s real estate crash and is now designated by Nakheel as a “long-term project”.

Damac said in September it had no plans to launch any further projects in the UAE and would instead focus on handovers, and developments in markets such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The company has delivered 21 buildings comprising 4,072 in the year-to-date, El Chaar said.

“In some of the projects we have some delays but most of the delays are under control,” he said.

“In our purchase agreements with our customers there are terms for project delays and if delayed what compensation [will be paid]. This is standard procedure in off-plan development.”

Asked about the Palm Springs investors, El Chaar said the firm had seen a “positive response” to its refund offer but declined to specify how many investors had accepted the offer.  

“We have offered them a full refund in staged payments [or] a lump sum [70 percent] payment immediate which is unprecedented in the market,” said El Chaar. “We are talking to our clients on a case-by-case basis, and we are working very hard to bring [the issue] to a close.

“There are a few [investors] which we are continuing talks with.”

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