x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Dubailand golf and villa project chips out of the bunker

A delayed 4.15 million square feet golf course based housing scheme in Dubailand, once endorsed by Maria Sharapova, could finally complete in 2016.

Tennis star Maria Sharapova during the official launch of the Dubai Lifestyle City in 2007. Joseph Capellan / The National
Tennis star Maria Sharapova during the official launch of the Dubai Lifestyle City in 2007. Joseph Capellan / The National

A delayed golf-based housing development in Dubailand, once endorsed by the tennis player Maria Sharapova, could finally complete in 2016 after the developer ETA Star Group struck a deal with the distressed property expert Pacific Ventures to build it.

Pacific Ventures, which specialises in taking over and completing stalled housing schemes in Dubai, said it had signed an agreement with ETA to develop 125 luxury villas and town houses at Dubai Lifestyle City, a 4.15 million square foot project between Dubai Bypass Road and Emirates Road. It was originally announced in 2007.

Parvez Khan, the chairman of Pacific Ventures, a property developer from Pune in India said the Tony Ashai-designed development would be mostly complete within two years.

Pacific Ventures is also completing two stalled Dubai housing projects under the Dubai Land Department’s Tanmia scheme.
Work originally started on Dubai Lifestyle City in 2009, when ETA awarded the construction contract to Saleh Construction to build 68 Tuscan-themed villas and 120 apartments. It was also to include a JW Marriott-branded and operated sports club and an IMG multi-sport training academy. A first phase was expected to be completed in 2011. As many as 300 homes are planned for the site.

It was also due to feature a Wall of Fame featuring celebrity hand prints including those of  Sharapova, the Bombay Dreams composer AR Rahman and the Bollywood director Karan Johar.

The project was delayed following the global financial crisis. According to Mr Khan, just 20 per cent of the golf course was completed before the crisis hit. He said the work had restarted and the course was now more than 50 per cent complete and six or seven of the villas were half-completed.

“I am joining hands with ETA and we are doing this project jointly,” Mr Khan said. “This is not through the Tanmia scheme. This is directly from ETA.”

Mr Khan declined to say how much his company had paid ETA to take on the scheme but said that it worked out as an “almost 50/50 joint venture”.

He added that ETA and Pacific Ventures planned to sell the 67 biggest villas for a minimum of Dh25 million each. Smaller villas, he said, would fetch Dh6.5m to Dh7m and town houses would be sold for about Dh5m.

Pacific Ventures was one of the first developers to take advantage of Dubai Land Department’s Tanmia scheme in which the Land Department and the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera) use their powers to reallocate stalled schemes to new property developers looking to invest in Dubai.

Under the terms of the scheme, Tanmia conducts technical and financial evaluations of the projects and tries to resolve their legal disputes. It then presents them to interested developers. The new developer must then honour sales made to previous investors if it wishes to continue and can sell the remainder of the flats on the open market.

Last year Pacific Ventures took over two partially completed housing blocks in Jumeirah Village Triangle under the Tanmia scheme. Mr Khan said that about 50 of the 90 flats in Edmonton Elm – now Pacific Edmonton – had been bought by investors before the financial crisis and 80 per cent of them were continuing with their repayments. He said all 60 of the investors in the 90- apartment Pacific Residencia were continuing to buy. The company aims to complete both projects by the end of next year.

“I say to the investors it is a good market now. Instead of losing 20 per cent or 30 per cent of your downpayment, why don’t you continue?” Mr Khan said. “I was the first one to go to Tanmia and ask for these projects which are stopped.”