ABU DHABI // Private investors have been invited to build and operate 40 new community centres in Abu Dhabi at a total cost of nearly Dh3 billion.
Work is expected to begin this year on 20 of the neighbourhood centres, which will contain convenience shops, leisure facilities and government services, and two larger district centres with supermarkets and other facilities.
The remaining eight neighbourhood centres and 10 district ones should be completed by 2016.
Each neighbourhood centre will cost between Dh30m and Dh40m to build, and district centres will cost about Dh120m to Dh150m each.
The municipality will deliver the project with the help of the private sector, using a Build, Operate and Transfer framework, in which the investor is required to finance, develop and operate the centres. No public funding will be allocated to the projects.
Centres may also incorporate sporting and educational facilities, restaurants, cafes and what Abu Dhabi Municipality describes as "high-class recreational outlets".
Each centre will consist of convenience retail, community services and customer services under one roof.
Convenience retail is defined in the plan as supermarkets, pharmacies and banks; community services as facilities such as swimming pools, gymnasiums, libraries and training facilities; and customer services include government-related services allowing people to pay bills.
The centres will be either "neighbourhood" or "district" depending on the population density in any given area and depending on the scope and nature of services needed by residents.
The neighbourhood centres will serve between 6,000 and 10,000 people and the total floor area will be about 7,000 square metres, while the district centres will serve 30,000 to 40,000 persons with a total floor area of up to 21,000 square metres.
According to the municipality, tenders for eight of the 40 centres are already out and construction agreements have been submitted for six of the eight.
The 40 sites for the centres - eight on Abu Dhabi island and 32 on the mainland - have been identified.
Mainland areas such as Khalifa City A and B, Mohammed bin Zayed City, Shawamekh, Shamkha, Shahama, Samha and Abu Dhabi Gate City will all benefit from the project.
The initiative is part of the municipality's strategy of engaging the private sector in delivering community amenities.
This is a two-pronged strategy - the first relating to the "rehabilitation and upgrading of the existing municipal assets and examining the strategy of managing them" and the second relating to "the launch of new investment projects as well as entertainment and service facilities".
The project is also part of Abu Dhabi's drive to upgrade public facilities and introduce new facilities needed by the community for the sake of proving integrated, modern services that conform to the highest international standards.
The municipality said the initiative had received huge support from the emirate's Executive Council, which said it fitted perfectly with Abu Dhabi's 2030 plan.
Yesterday, the municipality also announced the construction of a series of rest houses on motorways built to world-class standards and filled with multiple services. Many of the rest-house projects will be auctioned off to private-sector investors this year.
The aim of the rest houses project is to serve the needs of road users and ease existing traffic issues through moving some services, such as restaurants, to new sites, where parking spaces are more readily available.
The rest-house project will also enhance the standards of safety, health and quality of services, while also improving the appearance of facilities, enhancing the shopping experience and creating more job opportunities.
Another aim is to provide attractive investment opportunities for a number of small enterprises that are supported by the Khalifa Fund.
The municipality is now inviting private-sector investors to participate in the development of the community centres project in both mainland and island locations in Abu Dhabi.