x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Discovery Gardens turns into battlefield over services

Residents complain about a lack of facilities – swimming pools, tennis courts and manicured lawns – promised in promotional material.

DUBAI // For a while, Discovery Gardens lived up to its expectations as an affordable community with swimming pools and tennis courts.

But five years on, people who bought into the community close to Ibn Battuta Mall say they have been let down by the developer, Nakheel.

Michael Aldendorff, a South African who bought his one-bedroom flat for Dh726,000 in 2007, is one of a number of owners in Discovery Gardens refusing to pay service fees.

"We were promised so much but it's never been delivered," Mr Aldendorff said. "The original plans showed a large park … but that is just sand and dust at the moment.

"The basketball and tennis courts, I believe, have been leased out to a third-party company to allow them to run classes. So … during certain periods of the day residents can't use the courts as classes are taking place.

"I don't think the gyms will ever be built and the swimming pools remain locked. I've not paid my service fee for the past two years and that's simply because Nakheel haven't kept their promises."

Mr Aldendorff said owners in Discovery Gardens were paying one of the highest rates in the emirate at about Dh19 a square foot.

Kiron Bellani, an Indian who paid Dh1.2 million for her one-bedroom flat in Discovery Gardens in 2008, said she had regretted it ever since.

"The problem was that I bought at the height of the market and it's not worth anything near that now," Ms Bellani said. "When I moved in the landscaping was lush and green. The grass was regularly cut and the public areas were kept clean and tidy."

In the past few years the communal areas have deteriorated, she said, and street lighting is not turned on.

Ms Bellani recently paid Dh20,000 in service charges.

Nakheel said there had been "major improvement" in landscaping in the first quarter last year and 13 pools were in advanced stages.

"We appointed a service provider for maintenance of landscaping and have been receiving positive feedback from residents about the condition on site," it said in a statement.

Nakheel set a deadline of January 25 for fee defaulters to pay up or be barred. Yesterday, residents who had not paid the fees said there was still no problem in accessing their flats.