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The tender for the Deira Mall — which could be Dubai's largest shopping destination with a gross leasable area of an estimated 4 million square feet — could be awarded later in the year. Tenders have already been called for the prestige project, which could conceivably take three years to develop, according to a top Nakheel official.
Currently, Dubai Mall holds the ranking in terms of scale, with a 3.77 million square feet GLA and which is being added upon through an ongoing expansion.
''Deira needs a major retail destination and Deira Islands will provide that,'' said Ali Lootah, Chairman. ''I'm absolutely confident of our leasing strategy for all our retail projects in development — retailers are paying the rents we are asking for, and Nakheel will do its best to bring in the traffic. The rest is up to them.''
There is a second retail area on Deira Islands in the form of the Night Souq, which drew some heavy interest at the time of its leasing programme. With the island project (much changed from the original Palm Deira master plan), Nakheel expects to refocus development activity back on Deira. Being offshore gives it the space to do so.
The Deira Mall plus the Nakheel Mall, set for a first quarter-2018 opening on the Palm, will be the cornerstone of the developer's unfolding retail strategy. With the other retail clusters being added to its residential communities plus existing assets such as Ibn Battuta Mall and Dragon Mart, Nakheel is aiming for Dh6 billion in leasing income by 2020. This includes those coming in from its growing residential rental portfolio.
Last year, leasing contributed Dh1.6 billion. There are eight retail clusters that will open this year within the Nakheel portfolio, including the upscale Pointe on the Palm.
Over the last two years, the developer has been paying close attention to retail and hospitality opportunities. And the moves are paying off. The Dragon Mart 2 expansion pulled in 600,000 visitors last month alone.
On Wednesday, a 300,000 square feet extension — costing Dh100 million — was added to Ibn Battuta Mall and with the 60 outlets fully leased. A Marks & Spencer boutique store will be among the additions, as are those for Under Armour and Jashanmal.
This forms part of a wider expansion the mall is being put through. There will soon be a two-storey link — and featuring 90 outlets including a 24-hour food court — from the Metro station directly to the shopping and entertainment destination. A new multistorey car park will be added. A second cluster for cinemas is also part of the expanded master plan, as are two hotels.
A new expansion — also to feature a 300,000 square feet courtyard with a retractable glass roof for the winter months — will add a massive 4.7 million square feet of built-up area to the Ibn Battuta Mall development. This could take between three to five years to complete and scale it up to 7 million square feet of built-up and 1,000 outlets.
With Jebel Ali drawing in major residential projects as well as Dubai South taking shape, any expansion of Ibn Battuta Mall's leasable areas should make commercial sense from a mid- to long-term perspective.
''By 2020, Nakheel will have 15 million square feet of retail area in its portfolio,'' said Lootah.
On whether the time was then ripe for Nakheel to float its retail and hospitality arm, the Chairman said: ''Not for the time being — I want to first build up a proper mix (of assets) before we think IPO.''
Watch how Dubai Expo 2020 site will look like
Source: Manoj Nair, Associate Editor, gulfnews.com