Hydra Properties has begun handing over the first phase of its long-awaited Dh2 billion Hydra Village on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi - four years after it was originally scheduled to be completed.
The developer said it had completed all construction work on the 448 town houses forming the first part of the mega project in Al Shahama on the Abu Dhabi-to-Dubai highway. The project was originally launched in 2006 and was due to have been completed in 2009.
But investors in the project, which is to eventually house 10,000 residents, complained that their houses had not yet been connected to the mains water supply and the main access road linking the development with the city is not finished.
Pictures of the villas also show that the development has not been landscaped.
Hydra was unable to comment on specific questions about the scheme's water supply and access road or about when the landscaping of the scheme would be completed.
"Since the launch of the project we have faced a number of challenges as a result of the global financial crisis, which had an impact on all real estate developers," said Ali Saeed bin Sulayem, the chief executive of Hydra Properties.
"We successfully implemented an aggressive consolidation strategy, reallocating customers from underperforming and risky projects into projects that have shown strength, such as Hydra Village. The completion of phase one at Hydra Village is the first in a series of milestones we will celebrate as it shapes up to become a comfortable residential community," he added.
The 947,000 square metre development has been divided into 10 development zones. Hydra said that it had completed zones four and seven. It added that it had completed half the construction work on zone eight of the project, while zone six is about 30 per cent complete. However, the company did not give an expected completion date for the entire scheme.
Hydra Properties has faced a stream of disputes and lawsuits from investors seeking refunds for deposits they had paid.
In 2009 a group of Hydra Village buyers began negotiating with the developer as a group rather than on an individual basis.
The law firm MIO is handling hundreds of ongoing legal cases filed by buyers against Hydra. It was unable to comment on how the completion of the units would affect the cases.
"We are very excited that after five years of waiting, customers are finally able to start moving in or look at renting out their properties," said Matthew Holzl, a former Hydra Village investor himself and partner at Pink Properties, which advises a number of Hydra investors in selling or renting our their town houses.
According to Mr Holzl, when connected to the water supply and road network, two-bedroom properties at Hydra Village are likely to fetch an annual rent of Dh80,000 to Dh85,000, a sharp discount on similar properties at nearby Al Reef, which currently bring in about Dh100,000 a year.
"Our commitment to our remaining projects is as fierce as ever. We have ridden out several hurdles and setbacks on our journey like all real estate developers following the downturn. However, we were able to take away key learnings and experiences which help make us stronger today," said Mohamad Al Habech, the chief commercial officer of Hydra, which is owned by Royal Group.
"We are now focusing all our efforts on the other zones at Hydra Village and on the Hydra Avenue development on Reem Island. Successful completion of these projects will help bring back consumer confidence in our company and in the recovery of the Abu Dhabi real estate market."