x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Masdar City to start developing 500 homes in phase 1

Masdar City is about to start work on a first phase of 500 homes at its masterplanned development close to Abu Dhabi airport. It is looking to sell four plots of land which will eventually fit 700 homes to third party developers.

The first homes at Abu Dhabi's planned super green Masdar City are finally set to go ahead, Masdar officials said.
Masdar City is about to start work developing a first phase of 500 homes at its masterplanned development close to Abu Dhabi airport. It is looking to sell four plots of land which will eventually comprise another 700 homes to third party developers to build.
Within six months Masdar will start to tender contracts to build a first phase of the Woods Bagot designed homes at the city which would be completed by 2016, the company said at Cityscape Abu Dhabi.
Masdar said that the development had already been fully leased to corporations and educational establishments and would be owned by Masdar City.
The development is part of a wider plan to build a first residential neighbourhood of 2,000 homes at Masdar - a US$15-18 billion development which is slated to eventually house 40,000 residents and 50,000 workers in super sustainable surroundings.
Around two thirds of the flats in the second phase have been leased out to Masdar institutions already as homes for their staff but a final third of around 750 homes will be leased out on the open market once they are completed, Masdar said.
The homes will be build around a community square of about 6,000 square meters of retail.
The company also plans to sell four plots of land to developers to build another 700 homes in total at the development. It is also marketing six office plots comprising a total of 180,000 square meters and one hotel plot to third party developers.
An original Norman Foster designed master plan for Masdar City was unveiled in 2007, as the world's first entirely self-sustaining, zero-carbon, zero-waste city. Completion of the entire ambitious project was originally slated for 2016.
But the project was hit hard by the 2008 global financial crisis which effectively put a break on Masdar's development and an increasing number of the project's features were either rationalised, modified, or shelved. The phrase "zero carbon, zero waste" soon disappeared from Masdar's marketing material, and by 2010, plans for the podium, pod-based personal rapid transport system, and rooftop solar panels on every building were abandoned and cars were allowed into the scheme.
Although no homes have been built at Masdar City and only a small proportion of the planned office development, the company says it has already completed a 16 building university campus for the Masdar Institute as well as a 10,000 square metre incubator building and the 22,000 square metres Siemans office building which is now fully leased at rents of less than Dh2,000 a square meter.
Masdar is currently developing another 32,000 square metres of offices which will be a third occupied by the new Masdar HQ and a third by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) while a final third will be leased on the open market.
Moreover a 316 room Double Tree Hilton Hotel is under construction and Emirates College of Technology has signed up to lease another 30,000 square meter faculty which is currently being designed.
Masdar City director Anthony Mallows said that he was confident that within two years Masdar City would have doubled from its current size of 150,000 square metres of development to more than 300,000 square metres.
"I think the idea that you could build a district in five years all funded by the government is incredibly ambitious. And the journey we have been on is to learn innovate and understand what it takes to build a really sustainable city on a global paradigm. We are still maintaining all those original sustainability objectives except this business of zero carbon because nobody can be zero carbon. People release C02 when they breathe," Mr Mallows said.
He urged the government to "get on with it" and to build the Abu Dhabi metro in order to link Masdar and other key development sites in the capital in a more sustainable manner.
lbarnard@thenational.ae