DUBAI: A bachelor ‘invasion' and sliding rents have triggered fears that Discovery Gardens may suffer the same fate as International City if developers don't act fast.
Anosh, who owns a unit at the popular residential district, said Nakheel should pre-empt the bachelors' creeping "invasion" before its image is eroded.
"Bachelors are not welcome to live here. This is a concern for me as an investor. Nakheel should nip it in the bud. Otherwise, it will tarnish the place and reduce its overall liveability factor," he said.
A number of hotels house their staff at the massive 26,000-apartment complex, while residents reported some units now house labourers.
Unbridled bachelor migration may change the community's profile and dent property values, said Tom, another resident, adding: "There were times when my wife and mother-in-law went for a walk and felt there were people following them. Safety-wise, I would not rate it 100 per cent." Others reported labourers loitering around the clusters.
"There are certain areas in Discovery Gardens where men gather. It feels weird [to pass by those areas]," Filipina hotel staff Shirley said. Her colleague Marie said over a hundred others live in units leased by their employers. "When we jog, we avoid some parts as they are dark and virtually empty," she added.
Ahn, an IT executive who used to live in the Mogul Cluster, said bus-loads of bachelor workers have become a regular sight where he used to live. "My wife and I have seen it." "This is becoming another International City," complained another Asian resident.
While the development has grown in popularity with good access to the Metro through feeder buses, a slide in rents has seen one-bedroom apartments going for between Dh38,000 and Dh45,000 — around 30 per cent off from 2009 levels.
Others said some residents may be "over-reacting" and any talk of it turning into ‘Ghetto Gardens' is exaggerated. "It's only towards the end of some clusters that bachelors are found," said Vinod, an Indian, pointing to the Mogul and Meso-America Clusters.
Other residents said as the number of tenants increases, retail shops should be allowed to operate in other clusters, instead of just the Zen area. XPRESS discovered around 50 buildings completely unoccupied in three clusters.
Traffic snarls have become a daily affair due to a narrow two-lane access, which residents in nearby areas also use. "Access should have been planned properly before this area was built," said Abdul, an Arab resident, who complained about long rush-hour tailbacks.
A Nakheel spokesperson said: "Discussions are going on with the regulators to study the possibilities of establishing legislations to control bachelor housings within our communities." He also acknowledged residents' concerns about the narrow two-lane road access, adding they are reviewing plans to improve the traffic flow.