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It's hard not to be impressed at how Dubai Sports City (DSC) has evolved over the past decade. The 50-million-sq-ft community is said to be the world's first purpose-built sports city. Located on Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road, the master develoment's flagship projects include Victory Heights, Canal Residence West and Canal Retail Promenade.
The project's developer said it will also add more world-class facilities, which already include the iconic Dubai International Cricket Stadium, which has hosted major cricket tournaments, and the Els Club and Golf Course, an 18-hole, par-72 course designed by celebrated golf champion Ernie Els. The list goes on to include some of the region's most well-known sports academies at the Sports Village, including the Spanish Soccer Schools, Butch Harmon School of Golf, the acclaimed ICC Academy, and Fit Republik, with the only permanent Olympic gymnastic arena in the UAE and an Olympicsized swimming pool.
''It is wonderful to see DSC growing every day,'' says Khalid Al Zarooni, President of Dubai Sports City. ''Our aim is to set up a community with an active lifestyle for both residents and visitors. With what we already have in place and what is soon to be added, we are quickly becoming the ultimate home and sporting destination.''
There's more in the pipeline with 200,000 sq ft of retail space soon to be added, featuring shops along the Canal and within the housing developments. ''We're making great progress now,'' says Vijay Sajjanhar, Chief Financial Officer of DSC. ''We have a great mix of residential, sporting facilities and food and beverage outlets, all of which are proving to be success stories.''
In June, DSC also announced the handover of its latest flagship development, Canal Residence West's Venetian building. The 274-unit building includes studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, offering numerous amenities, including a swimming pool, gym and sauna.
Canal Residence West's other buildings, the European and Mediterranean apartments, were handed over much earlier. The 5,000 residents expected to move into the buildings will add to the 15,000-strong community that occupies prime space in the upmarket Victory Heights and other buildings in the vicinity.
Sajjanhar says that Fortuna Village is also moving forward at great pace. ''It's the eighth residential area within Victory Heights, the villa community that fringes The Els Club, and it's on target for completion early next year.'' He adds that in total, DSC has handed over 1,650 units across Canal Residence West and villa developments. This, however, does not include sub-developer projects. In terms of gross floor area (GFA), 4 million sq ft has been handed over, including Canal Residence West and Victory Heights.
''In addition to Fortuna Village, DSC is also working towards completing the retail promenade at Canal Residence West and the Victory Heights community centre, and launch [other projects], including the North Hub, within 12 months,'' says Sajjanhar. ''Everywhere you look, things are happening, and the fact that properties within Dubai Sports City offer one of the best returns on investment anywhere in Dubai is another reason for people to look at what we have to offer.''
First step to ownership
His optimism is shared by real estate brokers and investors who see DSC as a great investment destination on account of its impressive facilities and location.
''The main reasons [for its popularity] are quality, price and location,'' says Alex Stern, a property consultant with ERE Homes. ''There is a large number of new towers with high-quality finish that are available to tenants at great prices. Where the traditional areas such as Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Lakes Towers and Downtown Dubai have high prices, you can now move 10 minutes down the road and get larger apartments, with a golf course or canal views for a fraction of the price.
''This has meant that professionals who don't want to spend the astronomical prices in the competing areas can live in relative luxury.''
Stern says DSC is a great location for people to get onto the property ladder, as it is not fully completed and will continue to enjoy steady capital appreciation, which is unlikely in more established areas. ''This also means people can gain [value] over time while living in their property, or get a great return on investment of 7-10 per cent,'' says Stern. ''With its easy commuter links, including a 10-minute drive to Shaikh Zayed Road and Al Khail Road and immediate access to Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road, it makes access to Abu Dhabi, Jebel Ali, Downtown and most other areas quick and easy.''
Stern says feedback from people who have bought homes in DSC are generally positive. ''They have an understanding that there is a lot to come from the area,'' he says. ''It has very easy access to all the amenities in Dubai Motor City, which is a short distance away. Furthermore, with the opening of the retail areas within DSC later this year and next year, it will give people more reason to move to this area.''
Victory Heights is clearly one of DSC's more popular developments, with nearly 1,000 villas and town houses. The upscale golf community, home to the Els Club and Golf Course, is marked by its walking paths, playgrounds and greenery. There are schools nearby, such as Bradenton Prep Academy managed by Gems Education and Victory Heights Primary School, which has around 2,000 students.
Nilanjana Ghosh, a homeowner in Victory Heights, says these factors prompted her decision to buy a home in the gated community. ''The first thing that appealed to us was the fact that almost 60 per cent of the Victory Heights community is open, green and located on a golf course,'' says Ghosh. ''In a place such as Dubai this option appealed to me immediately. Moreover, when we checked out the floor plans and construction standards, I found it much better compared to other similar communities. And last but not the least, I have a sports-crazy husband and it was a given that he would be drawn to a place that has some of the region's best sporting facilities and events on offer.''
Justina Eitzinger, another Victory Heights homeowner, also praised the construction standards and facilities at DSC. ''We bought our home in Victory Heights in 2010 and we purely went by the quality of the infrastructure, the layout of the villa and all the finishing,'' says Eitzinger. ''Among several villas that we had seen, which included homes in Emirates Hills, Jumeirah Village Triangle and Jumeirah Village Circle, the villa in Victory Heights stood out for its quality.''
Both homeowners also complimented the community's maintenance services. Sajjanhar says the maintenance team also oversees large projects such as the academies, the championship golf course and Dubai International Stadium during events. However, Ghosh and Eitzinger say they would like more amenities such as tennis courts, a bigger swimming pool and a recreation club and retail area.
''A lot had been promised on these lines prior to forming the community, but these are still to be delivered,'' says Ghosh. ''We are committed to our demands and will remain hopeful that DSC will build these for us.''
Eitzinger adds the need for more competent medical facilities with emergency care, to complement the schools and many sporting platforms on-site.
Meanwhile, work has commenced on a community centre for Victory Heights and new retail and education facilities. DSC says major milestones are set to be met in the next two years, including new residential, commercial and sports facilities.
''We are running a marathon, not a sprint,'' says Sajjanhar. ''We already have so many facilities in place with more to come, so it's taking shape nicely.
''[DSC] must be the first development that built the facilities first. We now also have a fantastic community in place and we are quickly delivering what is important to us all, enjoying the way of life Dubai Sports City aims to provide.''
Dubai Sports City in focus: Q&A with Vijay Sajjanhar, Chief Financial Officer of Dubai Sports City
- What are some of the key draws for investors at Dubai Sports City (DSC)?
Living in DSC ensures great quality of life. We have the right mix of education, entertainment, sport and fitness facilities and the Els Club golf course right at your doorstep.
The community is well developed, so for investors it is a great [investment] as three schools are already functional, there is an 18-hole championship golf course, sport facilities and ready retail outlets on the promenade.
There's also easy access to main roads, E 311, E 44 and Hessa Street. So DSC is also very well connected and we are situated in a very exciting part of Dubai as the city grows.
Ninety-eight per cent of the infrastructure is ready and investors who buy plots obtain utility and sewage connection right up to their plot. The master plan is complete so investors can buy into a well-developed community and get a ready master plan.
There's also good return on rentals, with yield being around 7 per cent.
- Tell us about Canal Retail Promenade and other retail spaces that are being developed?
The promenade is 1.06km in length and its perimeter is 2.4km. We have 200 retail spaces in total at the promenade.
The retail space in Canal Residence West phase one has 22 retail shops in the Mediterranean, European and Venetian buildings. The second phase will have around 14 retail shops below the Arabian and Spanish towers.
- What are the starting prices for apartments, retail units, villas and town houses?
There are various buildings in DSC. These include our projects and the ones from sub-developers.
You can find a studio here for Dh600,00, a one bedroom apartment for Dh800,000-Dh1.1 million, a three-bedder for Dh2.7 million and town houses at Dh3.1 million. Luxury golf course villas range from Dh5 million–Dh7.5 million.
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Source: Manju N, Special to Property Weekly