Dubai: For the near future, Rizwan Sajan has his focus on two priorities - complete the sale of the second tower making up the ‘Oceanz’ in Dubai Maritime City. And the second, start adding to his land bank, which could yet see his company, Danube Properties, plan an entry into Abu Dhabi.
“The second Oceanz tower should have a sellout in the next 10-15 days,” said the founder and Chairman of Danube Group. “This is the fifth project we launched in Dubai this year, all of them being towers (and all of them with an upscale touch), with a combined investment closer to Dh7.5 billion.”
On whether going upscale and taking on more of a ‘master-developer’ role was part of a gameplan, Sajan said: “We haven’t changed any strategy - it’s still one building launched at a time. When that project gets sold - in our case, we manage to do that soon enough - we work towards a new launch. That’s how we always work.”
Which takes Sajan to his next upcoming priority. Buy more land and add to the bank. Through the recent past, Danube had been active on the land acquisition side, most of which have since seen projects to match them. (In Jumeirah Lake Towers, for instance, Danube was a recent entrant, a through the Dh1.9 billion twin-tower Viewz. There was also a plot deal involving investment firm Eshraq in JVC (Jumeirah Village Circle).)
“Any land that’s near the city’s established infrastructure and with accessible schools, hospitals and entertainment options, I’m always game for that,” said Sajan. “Soon, we will start on creating a new land bank in Dubai for a new round of growth.
“I am quite clear about the longer term prospects for Dubai property market. Sure, everyone realises that there will be some cooling off from peak values at some point. But even that represents solid investment potential for buyers, and that’s all developers want.”
A Dh7.5 billion project spread on the ground and upcoming spending on new land. How’s Danube planning to stay in sync with its funding needs?
Sajan has an instant response: “Once you are sure about your project and how fast it can sell, that takes care of the initial funds for that project. And you keep repeating the formula. Danube Properties has been extra careful with spending all through - it’s a discipline I adhere to.
“And you know what all that adds up to? No pressure on resources when we need it.”
Everyone with a passport is coming to Dubai to invest in a property. It’s unbelievable - and means every developer with a quality project will benefit.
Another emirate to expand
All through the years, the developer has been following a certain script. Buy and launch in Dubai, through mid-sized projects (of Dh400m-Dh500m) in emerging locations and, now, go in for bigger visibility projects in established freehold clusters.
There could soon be a change in this particular script. “Yes, we are considering prospects to launch in Abu Dhabi,” said the Chairman. “It’s about coming up with the perfect plot for a project that suits our brand in a new market.”
Abu Dhabi is in its own freehold boom, with Aldar, of course, leading the way by some distance. But there are ventures from Q Properties and Bloom that are getting buyer interest, while the Dh12 billion Jubail Island is hitting multiple construction and sales milestones.
Not for hotels
Stick with residential, that too will remain the Danube motto. “We will not get into hotel or serviced apartment ventures,” said Sajan. “That’s not where we want to be.
“As a developer, we find there’s so much more we can keep delivering in residential. There are buyers always interested in what we have to offer. It’s been a winning strategy for us.
Plus, of course, there is the ‘1 per cent’ a month payment plan. More developers are taking to this payment offer for their offplan buyers, especially those who are concerned about the steep rise in mortgage rates.
“Certainly, there are more of the 1 per cent plans around - but I don’t think anyone will argue that I was the first to introduce this. We are the original 1 per cent…”
Sure, I’ve been tracking what’s happening with the Palm Jebel Ali launches. “At the same time, I’ve to be careful planning how to use my resources. As a developer, I need to keep a close watch on the spending. It needs to be balanced with what I spend as an investor for my own needs.”