x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Owners' frustration at Reem handover delays

Seven months after the start of handovers in Marina Square, thousands of buyers still do not have possession of their apartments.

Primary construction is complete, but only one of the 13 towers and a few town homes are occupied. Sammy Dallal / The National
Primary construction is complete, but only one of the 13 towers and a few town homes are occupied. Sammy Dallal / The National

Seven months after the start of handovers at the capital's Marina Square on Reem Island, thousands of buyers still do not have possession of their apartments in the high-end development.

Primary construction is complete, but only one of the 13 towers, Rak Tower, and a few town homes are occupied. The remaining towers have been waiting for final government approvals.

"A lot of people are really upset," said Ahmed Nawab, the chief executive of Trust City Real Estate, which is working with several buyers in the project.

About half of the towers in the 26.7 hectare development are in the process of being handed over to sub-developers. But many of the buildings still do not have electrical services, say sources familiar with the project.

"This is one of the biggest developments in Abu Dhabi," said Samia Bouazza, the marketing director of Tamouh, the master developer of Marina Square. "Handovers have to be phased out."

Marina Square is the largest development on Reem, the US$30 billion (Dh110.18bn) "city within a city" planned to house more than 200,000 people. Along with Raha Beach, Reem is one of the first projects in Abu Dhabi to allow foreign ownership of apartments.

Tamouh announced the start of handovers in March, soon after Sorouh's Sun and Sky Towers, the first development on Reem, started turning over apartments to buyers. Tamouh built the project, with more than 3,400 residential units, but the individual buildings are owned by different companies.

The process of handing over buildings to the sub-developers has been delayed while buildings received civil defence certification and other final permits from the Abu Dhabi Government.

"In order to receive all the necessary approvals, we had to delay handing over units," Ms Bouazza said. "We are all working to give end users a safe place to move in to."

But the delays have been "very frustrating", said one buyer in Marina Heights, two 43-storey towers with a total of 704 apartments.

"We're paying rent, we're paying storage fees for furniture and we're paying our mortgage," said the buyer, who asked not to be named. "It's a triple whammy."

A notice sent to owners last week from a sales representative of the Profile Group, the owner of Marina Heights, said the towers were "physically and technically complete and that final handover and occupation will soon be able to commence".

The last remaining step is connecting power services to the building, the notice advised.

"While this process is entirely within the control of the authority, Tamouh do expect it to be completed imminently," the notice said. Once the buildings are connected to power, a 14-day completion notice will be issued to owners, it said.

"I don't believe it," said one Marina Heights owner, who wished to remain anonymous. "They always promise, but then it doesn't happen and I don't know why."

Guy Alan Sadler, the chief executive of Profile Group, referred calls to Tamouh.

Letters have gone out to buyers in several of the towers asking for their final instalments, but many are refusing to pay, Mr Nawab said.

"People are not going to pay the last instalment unless they have the keys and know the building will be handed over," he said.

Mr Nawab bought residential units in Marina Blue and Ocean Terrace, as well as office space in Infinity Tower.

"I've lost a lot of money in one year," he said.

"Everyone is tired of waiting."

kbrass@thenational.ae