x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Al Hamra Village project on track

Latest phase of Al Hamra Village, a Dh5 billion residential and leisure development in Ras al Khaimah, is on course, according to one of its executives.

Al Hamra Village is the first development in Ras al Khaimah opened for sale to foreigners.
Al Hamra Village is the first development in Ras al Khaimah opened for sale to foreigners.

The latest 1,000-unit phase of Al Hamra Village, a Dh5 billion (US$1.36bn) residential and leisure development in Ras al Khaimah, is on course for delivery by September, with fears about buyers not making payments proving groundless, according to the developer. Many buyers had been waiting for their property in Al Hamra Village, the first development where foreigners were allowed to buy in Ras al Khaimah, for two to four years, and in most cases 50 per cent of the property price was due after delivery. Romain Felber, the general manager of Al Hamra Real Estate, the government developer, said: "When I came here a few months ago, I thought I would face a huge number of people who would not pay the due amount after delivery. "I was really anxious but in fact it goes pretty well. The majority were end-users. Somebody who still has 50 per cent to pay will not want to lose the other half. We already collected payments of 600 people out of the 1,000." Al Hamra Real Estate has been actively helping to find financing for buyers of units in the project, and negotiated with Lloyds, Bank of Baroda, HSBC and Dresdner Bank to arrange loans for buyers. "More than 80 per cent of the first three phases in Al Hamra have been sold," Mr Felber said. "We want to keep around 20 per cent of the units to rent. Industry is a major strength here in Ras al Khaimah, so there is a real need and demand for rental units." Al Hamra Village will eventually include 5,000 residential units, a golf course, a 250-berth marina and a 600-room Palace hotel with 250 flats. The first group of owners has already moved in. Marina facilities include a diving centre - the first in Ras al Khaimah, according to Mr Felber - sailing lessons, wind surfing, water skiing, jet skiing, fishing trips, a restaurant and two swimming pools. There are already nearly 100 yachts berthed in the marina. Al Hamra Real Estate recently announced it was cancelling more than half of the apartment buildings planned for the fourth and last phase of the development. "We will only build the waterfront ones," Mr Felber said. The market downturn has also meant that prices for units in the development have fallen by about 37 per cent on the secondary market since June last year, according to property brokers. Jay Clench, the sales manager at the property agency Hunt and Harris, said: "You can get a town house for Dh1.25 million, that's about Dh575 per square foot, compared to more than Dh2m, or Dh920 per sq ft before. Some buyers have asked for an extension but most of the town house owners seem to be paying at handover." Al Hamra Real Estate said some 50 per cent of the shops planned for the development, which includes a mall, had opened. Mr Felber said that the company had recently taken over the projects of most of the smaller sub-developers, with the intention of finishing the units itself. As people have moved into some of the new units, there have been complaints about the quality of water and the absence of a clear maintenance structure. Mr Felber said a new maintenance service had been set up. Many of the town houses had actually been completed two years ago, but could not be delivered before the new power plant was opened this year. Water pumps had suffered from corrosion and were staining the water. "We are replacing a few hundred pumps with better quality material and are adding an additional filter," Mr Felber said. "It will cost several hundred thousand dirhams and will be finished in three to six months." Property management fees will be around Dh7 per sq ft and will cover the maintenance of infrastructure including sewerage, drinking water, electricity, roads, parks, waste and external housekeeping. ngillet@thenational.ae