Owners of apartments in the delayed Sun and Sky tower development in Abu Dhabi have been told the developer will start handing over their units within a month.
Although there has been no official announcement, Sorouh, the company building the towers, has received its formal building completion certificates from the Government, project representatives have told several owners.
"I'm very happy, if it's correct," said Khamis Mahmood, who bought a two-bedroom apartment in the Sun tower last year.
A Sorouh spokesman would not confirm specific plans for the 1,150 apartments in the two towers, but said: "Sorouh has previously stated it expected to hand over Sun and Sky in the first quarter of 2011. Customers will be contacted shortly."
Sun and Sky is a seminal development for Abu Dhabi. The 65-storey Sun and the 74-storey Sky, along with towers in the nearby Marina Square development, are the first projects built on Reem Island, one of the first large-scale developments in the capital to allow non-UAE citizens to own apartments on a freehold basis.
Sorouh announced completion of primary construction on Sun and Sky last November. But handovers have been delayed while the developer waited for government approvals.
Marina Square, developed by Tamouh, has been facing similar issues. The developers have never explained the specific reasons for the delays, which has frustrated buyers.
"We've been waiting a long time for this," said one Sun and Sky owner, who asked not to be named. "There was a lot of vagueness about the reasons for the delay."
The building completion certificate for Sun and Sky is the final government approval, owners have been told. But the project will still need a takeover certificate from the construction company before Sorouh can begin giving keys to owners, according to people familiar with the process.
The developer has already conducted pre-handover inspections on more than 1,000 of the residential units. And many owners started placing ads offering their units for rent.
But the delays forced owners to change their plans. "We can't guarantee a date [to tenants] when we can get keys," said Ahmed Nawab, the chief executive of Trust City Real Estate, who bought 15 apartments in the development for about Dh22 million (US$5.9m).
Mr Nawab was told last week that handovers would begin next month. But the retail elements of the project may not be open until the summer.
"Handover is one thing, another is the fit-out and services," Mr Nawab said. "It may not be fully functional until June or July."
The retail mall in the podium connecting the two towers will not be open until the second half of this year, the company said in its recently released annual report. Seventy per cent of the space in the mall has been leased, including by Waitrose, a UK-based supermarket, the company said.
Sun and Sky is part of Shams Gate, the entrance to the master-planned Shams development created by Sorouh. All the infrastructure work is complete for the Shams district, including roads, canals, pedestrian bridges, sea walls, utilities and a synthetic natural gas plant, Sorouh announced in its annual report.
Work on the three towers that form the Shams Gate - the towers will eventually be connected at the top levels - is "advancing rapidly, and the core walls have reached 61, 60 and 52 storeys respectively", the company said.
"Numerous sub-developers are progressing with their developments [in the Shams district] with 10 plots now under construction and several more expected to commence by year-end," the company said.