New Development Alert

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ikea-village-2012-olympic-site The latest in the saga of retail giants turning house developer is that Inter IKEA has bought a 13 acre site on Sugar House Lane, in what will become the site of the London Olympics — right next to the Olympic Stadium to be precise — to build a mixed use development of retail and office space and 1500 residential housing units. Contentious as they may be; new players are entering the housing market, is it good or bad news?

News of the IKEA plan follows the recent approval of a Tesco housing scheme in Bromley-by-Bow, consisting of 450 residential units, a primary school, shops and a hotel, which is Tesco’s fifth development after those in Dartford, Kent, Streatham and Woolwich.

The Tesco story went national for obvious reasons, while IKEA’s previous developments were completed with much less fuss. Yes, that’s right; this isn’t IKEA’s first foray into property development in the UK. The company has built a development of prefabricated houses in Gateshead, which, despite all the jokes about flat-packed housing are fully occupied, and “honestly modern” according to the Telegraph. The firm had a proposal to build a 19 story apartment block across from Hillingdon station refused.

The system used to build the Gateshead houses was called BokLok, similar to the kit-houses being made and sold by UK firms.

Plans have not been released for the Sugar House Lane development, all we have is statements from Inter IKEA saying that they won’t look like the BokLok housing, and a statement from Peter Andrews, the chief executive of the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation (LTGDC). Andrews said that he expects the units to display “the ethics of IKEA”.

“From what I’ve seen, they’re going to be different to the high-rise-dominated plans that were up before,” he said.

Andrews also said that he fully expects the development to become “a Covent Garden in the East End”. A retail, housing and leisure hub abutting the Olympic Park, this IKEA village will be one of the things making the new East End a place in which people will be proud to live, as well as a tourist destination to die for.

The question of whether this is good or bad depends on your viewpoint. From the viewpoint of outward facing business in the east end this is a good thing, because UK developers and investors are often prejudicial to the industrial east end, whereas those from outside are coming in with an open mind. Inter IKEA are currently joined by Australian developers Westfield and Lend Lease.

From a first-time buyer’s perspective this could also be good, because it is expected the 35% of the 1500 units will be affordable housing, and affordable by IKEA’s standards may be more affordable than that of Barratts.

For the residential property industry, agents, surveyors, architects, and for the wider economy, companies with substantial capital entering the market can only be perceived as a good thing.

On the whole though, time will reveal whether retail big-shots have a place in the creation of residential housing in the UK or not. One thing is certain; most developers care about the bottom line more than whether housing is affordable to core society, and it is unlikely that Tesco, IKEA, Inter IKEA or any big retail chain will have different priorities.

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Eat your heart out Dubai! So you think you can build a big building? Moscow is sending a message to the world with preliminary planning permission having just been granted to build the World’s largest building.

Crystal Island will cover a staggering 2,670,000 square meters, stand 450 meters tall and will cost an estimated $4 billion.

The tower, designed by renowned British architects Foster + Partners, will be multi use containing 3000 hotel rooms, 900 serviced apartments, a business centre, office spaces, a sports centre, entertainment centre and shopping mall as well as an international clown school, restaurants and cafes. Visitor numbers are expected to be high and there is a planned 16,500 space car park to accommodate them.

According to the designers: “The building’s spiraling form emerges majestically from a newly landscaped park, rising in converse directions to form a diagonal grid. This distinctive geometry extends throughout the project into the park. The result is that the scheme is seamlessly integrated into a new park landscape, which provides a range of activities throughout the year, including cross country skiing and ice skating in the winter.

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The real estate market in Panama is booming and one of the most “happening” areas is the luxury condominium sector. Despite attempts by the Panamanian government to slow down development, the skyline is bursting with new developments. Demand is high, partly because Panama is one of the largest free trade areas in the world, second only to Hong Kong. Panama is also a major banking centre due to “relaxed” banking laws.

There are some doubts as to the long term viability of this market, which is largely populated by “flippers,” property investors who buy and hopefully sell on a condo before construction is even complete.

Estate agents are obviously keen to encourage this practice as it means earning several commissions on the same piece of property and are trying their hardest to push prices over $5,000 per square meter. So far, the highest achieved has been $4,000. As little as 2 years ago, the record price was Less than a quarter at $1,000.

But the fear is, that when the time comes, there will be no actual “residents,” for these condos. Only time will tell as to how well grounded these fears are, and for the time being, Panama is still attracting many foreign flippers.

Here is a look at some of the upcoming condo developments in Panama City.

Element Boutique Condominiums

A 32-story high-rise featuring 100 luxury condominiums.

Doha – Two Qatari property developers on Sunday unveiled a $5bn tourism project, adding to a slew of major investments underway in the gas-rich Gulf emirate.

The complex is to include two hotels, a marina, chalets, “abstract-design” gardens and sports facilities on an area of almost eight million square metres according to Ghanem al-Saad, chairperson of Barwa, one of the developers.

The project in Al-Khor on Qatar’s northeastern coast will take about five years to finish, according to a statement issued by Barwa and its partner Diar.

Diar has already announced plans to build a new residential and leisure city called Lusail at a cost of more than $6bn.

Qatar, which has a population of 750 000, of whom only 150 000 are nationals, says it has nearly $50bn worth of infrastructure projects underway.

Record-high energy prices over the past few years have fueled a real estate development frenzy across the Gulf Arab states with countries competing to unveil the biggest and boldest projects.

The UAE’s Dubai, which is by far leading the development craze, announced plans last week to build the world’s largest hotel strip at a cost of $27.2bn rivaling that of famed US gambling town Las Vegas.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, announced in December plans to build the King Abdullah Economic City on its western coast at a cost of $26bn.


Dubai Lagoon, the 3 billion AED high watermark of living, announced their launch of the second phase of the contemporary property development based in the heart of new Dubai. Targeted at middle income, the Lagoon development is well located for the new airport and minutes from two main highways, Dubailand, Dubai Sports City and Dubai Knowledge Village.

The second phase boasts studios to two bedroom properties and all include fully furnished kitchens as standard. All Buildings of Dubai Lagoon’s second phase will be based around a stunning sapphire coloured lagoon. The second phase is expected to be ready for occupation by June 2008. It is expected the second phase will be as popular as the first phase, which sold out within 54 days, due to the flexible and extended payment terms. Sonia Husain, Executive Director of Dubai Lagoon said:

‘It is expected that the launch of phase two will be met with the same positive response as phase one. We have a unique proposition at Dubai Lagoon that caters for the middle management demographic, a previously ignored demographic by property developers. In addition to well appointed and good value investment opportunities we are offering flexible payment terms and fantastic options’.

Property buyers can take advantage of the payment terms which allow the purchaser to pay 60% over the initial two years with the balance to be paid over the next five years, like monthly rent. Dubai Lagoon is launching the second phase with a celebratory options scheme which will offer the buyer a variety of incentives dependent upon the property purchase. The incentive allows the buyer the option of a new Chevrolet motor vehicle (Spark, Aveo or Lumina), a PAN Emirates Furnishing voucher or a 5% discount upon booking.

Unlike other real estate incentives that wait until completion, with Dubai Lagoon as soon as one book an apartment the owner can drive away the vehicle or take away their vouchers to furnish their new home. In addition to these incentives the apartments are all ownership sub-lease hold title which means that all owners are eligible for family residence visas, subject to UAE immigration rules and regulations. The first phase of Dubai Lagoon proved very attractive to both investors and residents, largely due to the charming, tranquil and luxurious surroundings, resulting in sales of an equal split between the two groups.

Source: AME Info

Related links: Official Dubai Lagoon Website

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Luxury lifestyle provider, DAMAC Properties, announces its spectacular ‘Double Debut’ in Abu Dhabi with the launch of two prominent real estate projects. Dolphin Towers, a three-tower structure, including 400 one, two, and three bedroom luxury condominiums and 10 exclusive sea facing townhouses, will be located within the stunning Al Raha beach development. Oceanscape, an iconic mixed-use undertaking, including 184 one, two, and three bedroom apartments with state of the art finishing and 8 townhouses, is due to be positioned on the renowned Al Reem Island.

The company has in place a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) to provide mortgage financing for all customers wanting to buy properties in each of the newly launched developments.

Under the terms of the MOU, ADCB will provide a very competitive processing fee and interest rate, as well as 90% financing for a period of 25 years. Buyers into both properties will pay a AED 500 monthly installment throughout the period of construction. DAMAC will also provide mortgage financing through Union National Bank (UNB), a leading institution with wide reach inside the UAE. The bank’s extensive number of branches will provide clients from around the country with the opportunity to apply for a highly competitive mortgage financing scheme of up to 90% financing for a period of 25 years, thus enabling them to buy into DAMAC’s newly launched stunning projects within the UAE capital.

The Dolphin Towers project encompasses apartments with stunning sea views and the latest in smart home technology. Each townhouse exudes exclusivity and comfort, while including its own private swimming pool and sit out garden. Its luxury amenities include a marina, boardwalk and promenades, an infinity pool, health club, steam and sauna, gymnasium, a gourmet food court, 24 hours maintenance and security, ample parking space, concierge service, a guest lounge and meeting room for business gatherings, as well as an abundance of retail outlets at ground level.

Oceanscape provides the ultimate in luxury lifestyle. Its sea facing location and ultra modern design will make it the most sought after address in Abu Dhabi.

At Oceanscape every townhouse will include a private swimming pool. The real estate endeavor will comprise a number of high-end amenities, including an infinity pool overlooking the mangroves and the sea, a state of the art health club, Jacuzzis, steam rooms, saunas, relaxation and massage rooms, as well as a pharmacy, boutique shops, restaurants, cafes, and a Children’s play room and AV centre.

All Oceanscape customers will experience piece of mind with round the clock security, maintenance and concierge services, ample parking space, smart elevators that enable fastest access to each floor, along with smart home technology with electronic access system.

“Our “Double Debut” in Abu Dhabi is a natural progression towards a prosperous future for DAMAC Properties due to the substantially strong growth potential of the Abu Dhabi real estate market”, said Hussain Sajwani, Chairman of DAMAC Holding. “

Since I started my contract catering business in Abu Dhabi 24 years ago, my dream was to build a leading regional business conglomerate. From a young company in the UAE capital, DAMAC Holding has grown into a major regional player in a wide variety of businesses with 5000 employees in 16 countries. While aiming to diversify the group’s activities, we launched DAMAC Properties 10 years ago, and today, the property company has grown tremendously to become the Middle East’s most prominent private sector developer’, commented Sajwani.

He added: “Due to our stong faith in Abu Dhabi’s economic growth over many years, we have devised a long term plan for our real estate investments within the UAE capital city and promise to launch many more exciting projects, going forward”.

Sajwani reiterated: “Our belief in Abu Dhabi’s potential stems from the government’s strong commitment towards developing its real estate industry substantially, as evidenced by its introduction of a number of highly ambitious master planned developments. Investors have reacted by expressing tremendous interest while launching a number of spectacular projects “.

The property company was recently honored with three prestigious Bentley International Awards 2005 in the categories of Best UAE Development for Marina Terrace, Best Architecture for Ocean Heights and Best Developer Website ( at a ceremony in London on 4 November 2005.

The Bentley International Property Awards, now entering their 11th year, have been described as the ‘Oscars’ of the property industry. The aim of the awards is to distinguish the highest levels of achievement in a range of property-related fields. Categories cover a wide range of property and real estate related activities and services, including Development, Interior Design, Architecture, Property, Advertising, Marketing, and Estate Agency Services.

The total value of DAMAC Properties’ projects is over AED 10 Billion. It is a subsidiary of DAMAC Holding, an accredited ISO 9002 company that has grown into a global conglomerate with more than 5,000 employees in 16 countries. Being the first private developer to make a commitment to Dubai’s real estate market, DAMAC properties has become a market leader with a strong sales record to its credit.