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India’s Bengaluru-based developer Sobha will start construction on homes in the 183-acre mixed-use development in the Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid City (MBR City) in the second quarter.
Nestled in the corner of Al Khail and Al Ain Roads not far from Meydan and around 3km from the Burj Khalifa, Sobha Hartland has been designed as a complete community featuring freehold villas and mid- and high-rise apartments, as well as lifestyle amenities such as hotels, offices, two international schools, a clubhouse, mosques and retail centres. At least 40 per cent of this eight-million-sq-ft development is dedicated to green living with sprawling cycling and walking tracks.
Big on space
The community includes 280 four- to six-bedroom villas, as well as 1,800 apartments featuring a mix of studios, three-bedroom homes and duplexes distributed among 16 mid-rise buildings. “We decided to go for four-, five- and six-bedroom villas because we wanted to reach out to [those with] big families, who would usually want up to eight bedrooms, as well as those who have smaller families, [who prefer something] in the middle,” says Ajay Rajendran, Vice-Chairman of Sobha.
“We will adapt the apartment sizes to what the world wants as we go along.”
Sales of the units opened last September, with phase one including 73 villas and 79 apartments. “We have carefully planned the Sobha Hartland development cycle ensuring conservative sales assumptions,” says Rajendran. “Large master-planned communities such as ours require a fair amount of financial planning in advance.
“This allows us to start design and construction in a timely manner. We will start construction in [the second quarter] as planned and begin deliveries in phases from the first quarter of 2017 to the last quarter of 2020.”
Sobha has been around since 1976, delivering more than 75 million sq ft [of property] to customers, and with 38 million sq ft under construction. “It shows our commitment to timely and quality delivery,” he says.
“There will be no delays to what we’ve committed to — 2020 is the outer point in the time frame. We could possibly push back by 18 months, but don’t see any extraordinary reasons to do so, although we have to move with the market. The apartments will move with market requirements, with delivery maybe changing here and there by a few months.” April 2017 has been slated as the time by which the community facilities should be ready, including a school, retail facilities, parks and a hotel.
“[In] a customer-focused decision, the emphasis is on getting the community facilities off the ground to have them ready when the first homes are handed over,” explains Rajendran.
Although the developer isn’t concerned about finding buyers in the UAE — despite the market slowing down its focus has been on widening its commercial reach, tapping into the growing demand for UAE developments from London, Singapore, Riyadh, Doha and Kuwait city, where it will open new sales offices by July.
The developer also points out that the pricing of homes at Sobha Hartland, starting from Dh1,600 and Dh2,050 per square foot for apartments and villas respectively, hasn’t been affected by the recent predictions of a downward adjustment in prices, which can go up to 10 per cent.
Sales terms, including the 10 per cent down payment, a payment of the same amount after three months, 50 per cent linked to construction, and 30 per cent on completion, haven’t been changed.
“We’re sticking to what we offered three to four months back. We valued the development and [structured] the payment plan taking the buyer’s point of view into account,” says the Sobha Vice-Chairman.
Around 80 per cent of the buyers are end users, some of whom are purchasing through mortgages. “We have received hundreds of inquiries, [and] the issue of a more [lengthy] payment plan could come up. [But] it’s not a fundamental conversation, rather one that revolves around the product and its delivery,” he says.
Customers can look forward to a show home in the not-too-distant future, according to the developer, and lots of action. Sobha has already been on the ground for nearly a year, readying the Hartland International School, which it will operate from the new term in September. The second school might be operated by North London Collegiate School.
Rajendran says, “When someone has the option [to choose] where to live, they would [probably go for a place] where the kids can walk to school.
“At the same time, Hartland International School with 2,000 seats, and the second school with 1,800 seats, will attract pupils from outside the community [as well].”
Sobha is also the main contractor since its parent company has most construction-related services under its roof, including architecture and engineering, and metal, glass and wood works. All the designs, mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems and landscaping are being done in-house, and being the developer and contractor, Sobha can ensure the project is delivered on time and meets quality standards.
“As engineers, we know the design aspects of construction. To deliver the highest quality standards we adopt intense and expensive quality-control processes, which are very effective,” says Rajendran.
This standard of quality control will also apply to Sobha’s other mixed-use villa community in MBR City — District One. The $9-billion (Dh33 billion) development will feature lagoons, beaches and a recreational island, and is expected to be completed by 2019. It is a joint venture with Meydan and an update on it will be available soon, says Rajendran.
Source: Nicole Walter, Special to Property Weekly