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Wed 21 Sep 2011 10:43 AM

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Threat of fresh delays for Dubai's twisting skyscraper

Heavily-delayed Infinity Tower may see 2012 completion pushed back amid liquidity woes

Threat of fresh delays for Dubai's twisting skyscraper
The 73-storey Infinity Tower was initially scheduled for completion in 2008

Liquidity woes may push the completion date of Infinity Tower, Dubai’s tallest, twisted skyscraper, to Dec 2012 in the latest in a series of delays for the project.  

The building, which features a rotated design, was initially slated for completion in 2008 but suffered extended delays in the wake of the global financial crisis.

“We are still targeting [completion by] the middle of next year. In principle, with the building the way it is now, there should be no problem finishing it in six months,” said Kareem Derbas, CEO of Cayan, the developer behind the tower. “Physically, engineering-wise it can be done; we are past the complexity stage. If you look at the building we have topped out.

“The reason why we don’t have a fixed date is the installment and liquidity issue. With everything that’s happening and Dubai and people struggling to make installments, it has had an impact on the progress of the project. The more money you have, the faster you can build it.”

The project was also impacted after the collapse of a nearby quay wall caused the building site to flood, Derbas said, which set contractor Arabtec back significantly.

Construction of the 330m tower began in February 2006, when a design by Burj Khalifa architects SOM caught the eye of the developers. Cayan, intent on making the most of its unlimited marina plot, had launched a paid competition to architects worldwide in the hopes of finding an original design.

“We wanted to give people an incentive to do something crazy, and to get the best design in the world. It’s the best plot in the marina, so we wanted to do the best design,” said Derbas.

“The concept from SOM blew everyone’s mind. Even in the proposal, they sent an actual physical model. When we saw the model it was an easy decision.”

But the arrival of the global economic recession did little to help the 73-storey project, whose price tag added 30 percent to the cost of a standard, straight-line high-rise.

In a bid to raise extra cash for the project, Cayan was forced to begin selling some of the tower's 497 apartments earlier than expected.

“In hindsight, if I could untwist the building, it would help,” Derbas said.  “We used to sell 70 percent [of the units] and keep 30 percent until completion, as we believe that a product will always sell at a premium at the end of the project.

“We sold 70 percent... prior to the crisis, [and a bit more] in the past year to improve the cashflow of the project. But we’re trying to hold on to as much as we can until the end of the project because we believe it’s going to be the best project in Dubai.”

Compared with their peak price, the value of the tower’s apartments has declined 20 percent.

“At the right price we could sell all of them [the remaining 30 percent] tomorrow. But we want to get the best price. We think when it is 100 percent complete, people will pay the price we are looking for,’ Derbas said.

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