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It's arguably a brave scheme in the current climate, but one that developer Palma Holding insists the city is crying out for. Amid multiple high-end developments set to launch in the coming months and analysts forecasting a cooling in the market, Palma Holding, in collaboration with real estate investment firm Banian, recently unveiled Serenia, a Dh1.5-billion residential project it dubs Dubai's most exclusive beachfront residence.
Situated between the Anantara and Waldorf Astoria hotels on the Palm Jumeirah Crescent, Serenia will feature 250 apartment units across three buildings, designed by the renowned Hazel Wong, the architect behind the city's landmark Emirates Towers.
''Our mission statement is to develop Dubai's most exclusive beachfront residence and the reason we're calling it most exclusive is, firstly, we gave up our hotel licence — there's absolutely no hotel or retail component,'' says Kareem Derbas, CEO and co-Founder of Palma Holding. ''It is 100 per cent residential, the first such development on the Palm Crescent.
''Second, it's a Dh1.5-billion project and we could easily have fitted 500 units in it, but we decided to build only 250 homes. We're calling it a boutique development and yes, it's high end. Third, it's a 227,000-sq-ft plot with a building footprint of only 25 per cent — 75 per cent is landscaping, a swimming pool, tennis court and amenities. It's going to have a Beverly Hills-style gate [and] only residents can enter.''
Launched for sale last week, the development has one- to four-bedroom units ranging from 904-4,144 sq ft, and three penthouse suites the largest of which covers 12,648 sq ft. While prices start from Dh2 million, they reach Dh36 million for a presidential penthouse.
With Banian as a funding partner, Palma Holding says its plot has already been paid for in cash, with more than 25 per cent of the construction costs also set aside. That means it needs to sell only 30 per cent of the properties to complete the development — a great deal less than the 80 per cent required in previous large-scale projects.
Derbas is confident the market is buoyant for luxury property. ''Regardless of the state of the economy, changes in lifestyle and trends, the desire for beachfront property worldwide is unlimited,'' says Derbas. ''It's ever growing. And this is a boutique development, it's on the Palm Crescent, it's on the beach—there's always going to be demand for 250 units like that.''
While discarding the hotel component ensures exclusivity, the developer insists it won't leave residents lacking the luxury amenities offered by other mixed-use developments. The communal space will have an Olympic-size infinity pool, with separate exercise lap and children's pools, high-tech sports and exercise facilities, barbecue and relaxation zones and gardens. It is the palm's ''sweet spot'', explains Hassan H. Nia, CEO of Banian, enjoying uninterrupted views of the Burj Al Arab in front and Atlantis The Palm at the rear.
Indeed, the views have helped win the participation of Hazel Wong, who is herself something of a draw for the project. Speaking at last week's launch, she said her interests revolve around ''location, location, location — you can't ignore it''.
Unveiling her designs — three functional and modern apartment blocks that she describes as ''background buildings'' — Wong says, ''We want to build a home that will last for years, where you'll be as comfortable in ten years as on day one. If you don't see landmark features in the buildings, it's because that's how we want it.''
Serenia will have a bespoke concierge service offering personalised services such as hotel-style housekeeping, while keeping the basic owner maintenance costs to a minimum. The developer says the lack of a retail element, bars and restaurants that are more common to the Palm lifestyle will be mitigated by the development's proximity to both the Anantara and Waldorf Astoria — a meal out is only a short stroll down the beach.
With the lifestyle that Serenia brings to the table, Derbas has no doubt about his target buyer.
''Anyone who loves the beach,'' he says, before correcting himself: ''Well, anyone who loves the beach and has a bit of cash.''
Source: Jennifer Gibson, Special to Property Weekly