x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Hong Kong developer plans new skyscraper for Abu Dhabi's Reem Island

One of the largest construction companies in the Far East, Chun Wo, the builder of the Reem Diamond, also plans a Dh50 million spending spree on land around the capital.

Chun Wo Holdings of Hong Kong is planning a new project on Reem Island. Silvia Razgova / The National
Chun Wo Holdings of Hong Kong is planning a new project on Reem Island. Silvia Razgova / The National

One of the largest construction and development companies in East Asia is expanding its UAE operation.

The Hong Kong-listed contractor and developer Chun Wo Holdings plans to start work this summer on its second apartment block on Reem Island and is looking to spend up to Dh50 million (US$13.6m) on land in the capital for new schemes.

Chun Wo, which in September topped out its 10-storey Reem Diamond project, said it was planning to press ahead with its 30-storey, 200,000 square foot "Le Cube" block next summer.

The company's spending in the emirate comes as it moves its focus away from mainland China as a result of government measures in China to cool off the property market.

Derrick Pang, the deputy chairman of Chun Wo, said the developer was planning to increase its UAE operations and take advantage of the lower land costs in the capital.

"I think there is a market here because Abu Dhabi is the big brother of the UAE and it's where all the wealthy people come to," he said. "Prices in Hong Kong are pretty crazy. We're talking about at least Dh10,000 per sq ft now, so everything here looks very cheap. Over the next few years I think we will be concentrating on Hong Kong and Abu Dhabi. In China the property market is a little bit tough."

Mr Pang said Chun Wo hoped to bring Hong Kong-style metropolitan living to the UAE capital.

"We really understand the lifestyle of a metropolitan citizen and how you tailor-make that kind of product for them. That's the lifestyle we want to bring from Hong Kong to here," he said. "It is the kind of product that we have done many, many times. There are some developers who are bringing the kind of product close to that, but in Abu Dhabi I see very few products that are like that."

Chun Wo is currently completing its 48-apartment Reem Diamond project. It hopes to use the scheme to showcase its work and to attract buyers to Le Cube and other projects.

"Reem Diamond is going to be a signature project that we want to bring out the name of Chun Wo. It's really also a testing ground for us," added Mr Pang. "Of course we want to make money, everybody wants to, but we care about our brand more than anything. So it's a development where we import materials from Asia. That's our style, our own standard."

It bought the Reem Diamond site for Dh325 per sq ft but estimates that total development costs will reach Dh1,500 to Dh1,600 per sq ft. It hopes to sell the scheme at Dh1,700 to Dh1,800 per sq ft - well above current market prices on the island.

The developer bought the land to develop Reem Diamond and Le Cube in 2007 and had hoped to complete the first development this year. But Mr Pang says that plans were delayed, both by the global financial downturn and by problems in shipping over materials.

They were also held up, he said,by delays in building out the infrastructure on Reem. The developer also owns a third site on Marjan Island in Ras Al Khaimah, which it plans to hold as a long-term project.