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What do Paris' Avenue Montaigne, New York's Fifth Avenue, Singapore's Paterson Hill and London's Kensington Palace Gardens have in common? These are some of the world's most expensive neighbourhoods. Manicured lawns, haute couture boutiques and extravagant homes define them.
But another area the world's elite is keeping an eye on is Downtown Dubai. Regarded as one of the prestigious strips of real estate in the world, it epitomizes the UAE's booming economy and property market. Moreover, Dubai, with its great quality of life and easy accessibility, is fast becoming the destination of choice for globetrotting expats to invest in.
Setting the stage John Stevens, Managing Director of Asteco, says, ''Downtown Dubai is one of the world's most visited tourist, shopping and lifestyle destinations. It, therefore, commands premium real estate value, representative of its location and popularity, and a continued demand for high-end residences.
''Developments [such as the Burj Khalifa] that are unveiled on the world stage have a dual purpose. They represent the emirate and also serve as brick-and-mortar marketing tools to attract investment. Dubai is one of the world's most watched cities and always on the radar of [international] investors, particularly areas such as Downtown Dubai that already have strong global recognition.''
For Robin Teh, Country Manager at Chesterton Middle East and North Africa (Mena), the lure of Downtown Dubai is that it provides the perfect mix of leisure, retail and lifestyle. ''The community offers everything for a chic lifestyle such as eateries with panoramic views and world-class shopping in The Dubai Mall. The location is popular among expats and visitors alike. Even a stroll down the well-lit boulevard is quite an experience for many.''
Asteco's third-quarter report outlined a 35 per cent year-on-year increase in property prices for Downtown Dubai, commanding anything between Dh1,600 and Dh3,000 per square foot. ''Although prices stabilized in the third quarter, the area remains the most expensive in Dubai, witnessing the second-highest annual growth behind Jumeirah Lakes Towers, underscoring demand for property in the neighbourhood,'' says Stevens.
New York and London still command top prices — a 5,000-sq-ft, five-bedroom penthouse in The Park Laurel condominium complex in Manhattan was tagged at $23.7 million (Dh87 million), while a 4,100-sq-ft, four-bedroom penthouse in Chelsea Harbour in London will set you back $15 million, according to Zawya, a business intelligence agency. In comparison, a five-bedroom penthouse in The Address Residence Sky View costs $6 million, says Stevens.
Chesterton Mena states that prices for properties in Downtown Dubai range from Dh1,900 to Dh2,600 per square foot and can go up to Dh8,000 for Armani residences. ''These are significantly lower compared to world-class locations such as Manhattan where average prices range from $1,300-$1,800 per square foot,'' says Teh. ''Central London continues to be the most expensive with prices from $1,800-$3,000 per square foot.''
According to a market survey by Knight Frank, a real estate consultancy, Dubai ranks 19th in terms of average residential price range, while London is third and New York, eighth. Thomas Wiegand, Director of the Project Sales Department at Sotheby's International Realty in Dubai, says, ''While it might be flattering for Dubai to compare itself to two of the best-performing and most established markets in the world, there are, in fact, few real comparable features for the Dubai market. A more realistic comparison would be other emerging markets.''
The real estate company is managing Signature Estates' upcoming bespoke residences in Downtown Dubai called The 118.
Apart from the world's tallest building, Burj Khalifa, and At.mosphere, the world's highest restaurant, Downtown Dubai is also home to the world's tallest musical fountains and longest travelator, which connects the Metro station to The Dubai Mall, as well as six world class hotels and the glittering Mohammad Bin Rashid Boulevard. The Dubai Mall is the world's largest shopping centre and houses 1,200 retail outlets.
A range of events and festivals take place throughout the year in Downtown Dubai, including concerts and art exhibitions, adding to its prestige, says Stevens.
The area will also feature a modern art museum and The Opera District by Emaar Properties. Construction of the latter has commenced, and its centrepiece will be the 2,000-seater Dubai Opera, which is scheduled for completion in 2016.
''Dubai Opera's design is inspired by the dhow, the [region's] traditional sailing vessel, and envisaged to be as iconic in appearance as the Sydney Opera House,'' says an Emaar spokesperson.
The Opera District will fit in perfectly with the glamour and architecture of Downtown Dubai. It will also further cement the emirate's position as a regional cultural hub by encouraging local talent and promoting global cultural exchange.
Emaar launched the 66-storey Opera Grand last year, the first residential tower in The Opera District featuring more than 200 luxurious apartments.
But it's The 118, due for completion in mid-2016 that's touted to set the bar for ultra-premium homes with its 27 full-floor residences.
Raju Shroff, Director of Signature Estates, believes there is no better place than Downtown Dubai to launch The 118. ''The residences are targeted at top-end buyers who appreciate the value of space, focus on attention to detail and quality finishes,'' he says. ''Each residence spans a sprawling 6,600 sq ft, while a duplex is spread across 12,000 sq ft. Prices start at Dh24 million.''
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Source: Sanaya Pavri, Features Writer, Property Weekly