A Dubai flagship residential and retail development has overhauled its mix of commercial tenants to add shops that cater to the local community.
Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR), a development of nearly 40 towers on the Dubai beachfront, has more than doubled its occupancy on one of its shop levels, having previously lost retailers and restaurants that struggled to make a profit.
Dubai Properties Group (DPG), the developer behind JBR, has leased more space to businesses such as nurseries, supermarkets, offices and hair salons on one of its levels after retailers and cafes had left because of few customers and poor sales.
"DPG has assessed and implemented changes to reflect the evolution of the project and needs of customers as well as residents," said a DPG spokesman. "In response to the growing residential population, we have added more services."
JBR's shop units are split over two floors, the ground level and a plaza level one floor up. Huge numbers of people stroll along 1.7km stretch of the ground-level promenade, called The Walk, spending money in the many restaurants, cafes and stores.
But the plaza level upstairs does not get anywhere near the same volume of foot traffic, so retailers and restaurants have been replaced by businesses that residents in the towers frequently use, such as gyms, dentists and music and dance studios.
As a result, the plaza-level occupancy has increased to 75 per cent over the past 18 months, DPG said.
Matthew Green, the head of research and consultancy for the UAE at the property firm CB Richard Ellis, said the move to offer more services to the community on the plaza level was "100 per cent" the right decision.
"It should change around the fortunes of that component of the JBR development. [DPG] have been dynamic and realised that they needed to change the plaza," he said. "If you go back a couple of years, the retail mix was not working or getting footfall. All the footfall was on the ground floor."
JBR can house up to 15,000 people and sits along nearly 2km of beach, next to a number of hotels. It has become one of Dubai's most popular entertainment and leisure destinations since its completion in 2007.
The plaza level had once been earmarked as a shopping district that could house hundreds of retailers.
Virgin Middle East, one of the few remaining retailers on the plaza level, is considering changing its shop into a discount outlet or making it an extension of its head office, which is next to the store. As part of the overall revamp of JBR commercial tenants, Hilton Worldwide has extended its Jumeirah hotel next to the development and taken one of the tower blocks on JBR to offer serviced residences.
DPG would not confirm that it has had to heavily reduce rents to entice businesses to the plaza level, but the company said: "All of DPG's rental rates are both highly competitive and in line with current market conditions."