By Martin Morris
Project through halfway stage, but plans for refrigerated beach abandoned due to environment issues.
Work on the AED2.3 billion ($626 million) Palazzo Versace Dubai is now ''well under way''. However, plans for a refrigerated beach have been scrapped after concerns over its environmental effects, according to the National newspaper.
Developer Emirates Sunland Group said that 80 percent of the 169 private residences, which start from AED17.7 million, were sold before the crisis. Soheil Abedian, MD of the firm said financing had already been secured from a syndicate of banks.
''The majority of buyers had paid 50 to 60 per cent, so we were able to continue with construction,'' the newspaper reported, quoting Abedian.
The Palazzo Versace Dubai, overlooking the waters of Dubai Creek, will be the second Versace hotel after the launch of Palazzo Versace Gold Coast in Australia in 2000.
As well as the private residences, which will be fitted out with furniture designed by Versace, Palazzo Versace Dubai will have 217 hotel suites.
But Abedian admitted that ''sales have slowed in the past few months'' and the developer has had to be more lenient about receiving payments in the crisis.
''We're looking at them on a case-by-case basis,'' he said. ''Not one single Versace apartment has been cancelled.''
Palazzo Versace is expected to open in 12 to 18 months, depending on the progress on the infrastructure of Culture Village.
''We can only open our project when we have received all the infrastructure required for the opening, such as electricity, water and the road,'' Abedian said. ''We are hopeful that within 12 to 18 months they would be provided.''
He added that given the high-end positioning and famous brand name, the hotel would have no difficulties attracting guests.
Speaking earlier, he said: ''When people choose to buy designer clothes over high street brands, they do so because of the outfit's style, the way it has been cut to complement its buyer's shape, its high-quality material and the degree of craftsmanship.
''For Palazzo Versace, the same principles apply which is why we are investing so much time and attention to detail with the interiors and exterior of the development. This will ensure residents and hotel guests experience the ultimate luxurious lifestyle the Versace brand emulates.''