x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Trump Tower delayed indefinitely

Work onTrump International Hotel and Tower project, developed by Nakheel, is suspended indefinitely.

Artist rendering of Trump Tower on Palm Jumeirah, it's unsure when work will resume on the project.
Artist rendering of Trump Tower on Palm Jumeirah, it's unsure when work will resume on the project.

Work on the Trump International Hotel and Tower project has been suspended indefinitely. Nakheel, which was developing the project, first called a halt at the end of last year. The Al Habtoor Leighton Group has spent the past few months making the site safe and preparing it for a possible resumption of work, according to David Savage, the managing director, but it is not known when the project will resume. "Initially they thought it would be six to 12 months, but the honest answer's going to depend on what happens in the market," Mr Savage said Wednesday. "It's a high-end product, so it's got quite an unusual market." Al Habtoor Leighton, a joint venture between Dubai's Al Habtoor Engineering and Leighton International of Australia, had been working on the Dh2.9 billion (US$790 million) construction package in partnership with Murray & Roberts, a South African firm. "We're finishing off the ground levelling and will be leaving the site in the next month," said Mr Savage. "Nakheel stopped the contract but we kept working with them to get the site closed up, so it's safe and ready for them to restart." He said the firm had recovered its costs on the project but still had "some way to go with finalising everything". Trump Tower was to be a centrepiece of the Palm Jumeirah. In June last year, one buyer offered Dh11,100 a square foot, or almost Dh110m, for a penthouse in the building, which at the time was more than twice the going rate of Dubai's most expensive seafront properties. The project was to be the first in the region for Donald Trump, the US property magnate. Mr Trump later attended a star-studded event in New York to launch the project, as part of a Dh18.4m global marketing campaign. Nakheel has delayed work on most of its high-profile projects, including Palm Deira, The Universe and Nakheel Harbour and Tower. Less work has meant a more competitive environment for construction companies. "We've got more tenders than we've had for a long time ? so there are opportunities out there, but it's more competitive," Mr Savage said. Al Habtoor Leighton Group is bidding for a number of projects in Abu Dhabi, including the St Regis Hotel on Saadiyat Island. It also plans to bid for the main construction contract for the Louvre museum on Saadiyat, in partnership with Murray & Roberts. Mr Savage said the loss of some contracts had not had a major impact on his company's order book, which is worth about Dh26bn. The company this year pulled out of a deal to build Concourse 3 at Dubai International Airport. It had been working on the Dh4.9bn contract with Murray & Roberts and Takenaka, a Japanese company. The joint venture pulled out of the deal after failing to reach an agreement with the Dubai Department of Civil Aviation over contract -renegotiations. The company is working on Dubai Pearl, the new convention centre in Jebel Ali, and Tameer Towers in Abu Dhabi. "What's probably slowed in the last six months is more new work to replace the work we're doing, as opposed to the order book changing dramatically because of lost projects," Mr Savage said. The company is also looking at opportunities in North Africa, including Libya, and recently won a contract with Al Rajhi Projects in Saudi Arabia. agiuffrida@thenational.ae