Investor: 'Lagoon problems are far from over'

UK investor slams developer for claiming issues over refunds are resolved.
Investor: 'Lagoon problems are far from over'
By Tamara Walid
Tue 02 Sep 2008 03:26 PM

A Dubai Lagoon investor insisted on Tuesday that there were still a lot of people who felt let down by developer Schon Properties, despite what company bosses claim.

UK-based Sheraz Bhatti told Arabian Business that the Lagoon project was his first sortee into the Dubai property market and his experience had deterred him from making further investments.

He was responding to comments by vice-president Danial Schon on Monday when he said the problems with delays had been "beyond the company's control".

Schon Properties said it has conducted a meeting with all investors and the issue was solved, resulting in most investors choosing not to refund their money.

But Bhatti, who has been refused any refund, said there were still a lot of investors who were angry with the developers.

He told Arabian Business: “Schon had an open forum where investors were invited to attend. Unfortunately, I do not believe any overseas investors would have attended due to the short notice – one day. Most of the attendants were local investors.

“Furthermore, Schon have not communicated the responses to me or other investors,” he said.

Bhatti added that he was not convinced investors left the meeting satisfied “as the refund issue remains outstanding and payment plans are not being revised to link it with construction”.

The developer told Arabian Business on Monday that problems were behind them and the project would now be finished by the second half of 2011.

They added that difficulties including cancelled contracts and work permit freezes were beyond their control.

Schon added that the majority of investors who have been offered refunds because of the delays have chosen to stick with the project.

After long delays and angry protests from disgruntled investors, the developer has agreed to grant refunds to investors who were sold plots in 2005 with a completion date of the end of 2007.

“They [Schon] mentioned this in a forum but I do not think many investors who do not belong to this group are happy about it,” said Bhatti.

“RERA says that all investors are eligible for refund. I am a phase 2 investor and a recent e-mail from Schon says that they are looking into my case, but they have been looking into it for the last three months!”

Bhatti is still hoping to get a refund for the money he’s invested in Dubai Lagoon. All he wants at this stage is to exit the project.

“We investors have been cheated,” he said.

Additionally, Bhatti claimed he had not been informed of any changes in the project’s layout, which Schon explained had to be implemented due to unavoidable road works decided unexpectedly by the government.

“No formal communication from Schon regarding this was made. Schon’s management team does not know how to manage its communication with investors. Communication is almost non-existent,” added Bhatti.

He added that investors continued to pay their installments when construction is yet to commence.

“I, along with many other investors, am dissatisfied but our requests for full refunds have been turned down.

“This is my first investment in Dubai’s real estate, which I hoped would be a very profitable and lucrative proposition. This project is turning out far from that,” he added.

Schon said it had suffered very high costs due to delays. The Dubai Lagoon project, which was initially estimated at a cost of $272 million, has today bumped its value to $598 million.

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