x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Construction to start on Ivory Tower

Construction of the Ivory Tower project in Dubai should begin on Nov 1 - more than three years after it was launched.

Ivory tower construction is expected to start on Nov 1.
Ivory tower construction is expected to start on Nov 1.

DUBAI // Construction of the long-delayed Ivory Tower residential project in Dubai is expected to begin on Nov 1 - more than three years after it was launched. The project, which is being developed by Saudi Arabia's Sokook Investment Group, has roused the anger of hundreds of investors who purchased units off-plan and were told they would be completed this month. Investors have recently filed complaints to the Dubai Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA).

A spokesman for Sokook told The National last month that the project had been delayed because of a demand by TECOM - the master developer of the International Media Production Zone (IMPZ), where Ivory Tower is to be located - for a bank guarantee from the developer before construction could begin. The spokesman said a recent meeting held between Sokook, TECOM, RERA and the Dubai Land Department (DLD) resulted in the bank guarantee being waived, which meant that the project would go ahead.

The matter has since been taken up by RERA, which issued a statement to investors on Wednesday in response to their complaints. "The dispute began when ­TECOM asked for a bank guarantee and an escrow account from the developer - but this was before the escrow law had been implemented," said Khawla Madani, a senior legal officer at RERA. "The issues have now been resolved. Sokook has said that construction would begin on Nov 1, or even earlier, and that it is negotiating with contractors."

Ms Madani added that there had been no previous complaints against Sokook, and that the reason for the project's delay was considered as a 'force majeure', something that was beyond the developer's control. About 770 investors are believed to have bought property in Ivory Tower, about 100 of whom were from the UK. While the project was delayed, Sokook had given investors the option of selling the property back at the original price - with an interest rate of between five and 10 per cent - or holding on to it.

In an email sent to RERA at the end of last month, investors alleged that the "buyback" option was illegal. "We received confirmation from Sokook that they never forced the 'buyback' option on their clients - it was given to them as an option. So it was not illegal, as it was never forced," added Ms Madani. Sokook was unavailable for comment. @Email:agiuffrida@thenational.ae