Dubai’s developers thinking horizontal

Dubai’s developers thinking horizontalImage Credit: Clint Egbert,

Dubai's developers are seeing value in thinking horizontal... i.e., villas. And they are being given the spread to pursue this line of development, if recent launches of premium standalone properties at Meydan City and MBR City are anything to go by.

Indigo Developers, which had made its initial mark with two eye-catching high-rises (Indigo Tower and Indigo Lake at JLT), is shifting its attention to the ground level. Anand Lakhiani, one of the founding partners at the developer, believes there is a strong case for doing so.

''Taking a slightly longer term developer perspective, there is bound to be more — and sustained — demand for comfortably spaced villa projects,'' said Lakhiani. ''And where pricing is a factor in a buyer's decision, there's the lower priced townhouse format.

Exorbitant plot prices

''Plot prices for high-rise development has turned exorbitant and there are few available plots in saturated Dubai Marina or JLT; at Downtown, Emaar is not selling many plots — if at all — to other developers. It makes sense for a developer to shift his focus from apartments.''

The plan for Indigo Developers is to launch a villa community off Dubai Academic City and within proximity to Akoya by Damac. The venture, tentatively titled 'Indigo Zen', will have around 350 villas scaling between 4,000-7,000 square feet. Land available for the project is 4.5 million square feet. (Pricing will be announced only closer to the launch.)

The plan to have the rollout to potential investors by May or June. On whether it wouldn't have been better to do so well before summer sets in, Lakhiani said: ''It can't be helped; there are some processes such as the 20 per cent requirement on construction timeline or bank guarantees before a sales launch. It takes some time to clear all the regulatory approvals.''

The Dubailand master-development itself has been a buzz of project activity; those such as City of Arabia or Falcon City which are some way into their development phase as well as more recently launched ones such as Akoya.

''A big plus with gated communities is that locations don't matter half as much — most of the buyers would have a preference for a slightly more secluded lifestyle that is a given with such projects,'' said Lakhiani.

While it works on the big upcoming launch, there is quite a bit keeping the developer busy. At Jumeirah Golf Estates, it is working on the Orange Lake — a cluster of 68 villas —towards a September completion. It was a project that fell victim to the downturn and was then revived by bringing in an outside investor in 2012 who provided the needed capital to revive it.

''Some of the original buyers did not continue and were suitably compensated,'' said Lakhiani. ''We have enough cashflow going to see through this project as per the new schedule of September.

''During 2009-11, we utilised our time to engage with our investors and offered them various options to continue their investment with us, to which a majority agreed. They realised we were here for the long haul and committed to retaining a long-term relationship with them.''

The developer also intends to shed some of the plots in its land bank that are now deemed surplus to requirements. ''Our focus is shifting to gated communities and individual plots in mature developments are not what we want to spend resources on. In fact, by selling them off, we add to our cash pile for our strategic ventures in the future.''

Source: Manoj Nair, Associate Editor,


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