Dubai: Dubai developers have built islands, skyscrapers and some of the most prestigious villa communities. Each of these come with degrees of difficulties that the developers have overcome to get to their goals - and create living spaces for residents there. Now, give a thought to the complexity that comes in recreating a sizeable area within one of Dubai’s busiest districts as a full-fledged park. And then create a cluster of luxury apartment buildings around it. As any developer will tell you, this project will not be a walk in the park.
This, however, is what Dubai Holding Real Estate (DHRE) has taken on. They are not just building a serviceable green area, but creating a staggering 46,600 square metre spread in Jumeirah’s Al Wasl neighbourhood and as part of the upscale City Walk development.
For DHRE, the aptly named ‘City Walk Central Park’ is about re-imagining urban living right in the heart of Dubai. Where future residents can access parkland at their doorstep or get on the roads to the busiest parts of town. DHRE - which combines the real estate divisions of Meraas and Dubai Properties - is no stranger to building urban landmarks. Whether it is Jumeirah Bay Island or the sprawling mega-destination Dubailand, the entities have shown they can get it done.
In a chat with Gulf News, Alex Davies, Chief Commercial Officer of DHRE, gives a status report on City Walk and the Central Park.
Setting aside 46,600 square metres exclusive on a park out of an available 48,100 square metre area might seem excessive to some. What was the rationale?
We have been looking at current market conditions - plentiful green spaces are not something we have seen in freehold areas before, especially in urban and developed spaces. For green space, residents had to head for a suburban environment. We wanted to change that, offer an option.
City Walk was the right spot for that that - we already had a residential and retail component in Phase 1 and then there is the massive entertainment part in the form of Coca-Cola Arena.
So, we thought that adding the Central Park will create a new dimension to the City Walk destination. Once we are done, the green areas will make up 30 per cent of the overall City Walk.
You are limiting the number of buildings at City Walk Phase 2. Will all of these be set around the Central Park?
It was eight months ago we released the first building at Central Park and supplemented with more releases in November last year and March 2022. That will very much be our philosophy this year, we will soon be completing the Phase 2 masterplan, including all the Central Park detailing.
For the new phase, we are seeing investors from markets that had bought at the original City Walk. What’s different now is seeing more Europeans coming into the sales mix than we had seen.
I think our intention to come up with something that appeals across different buyer segments is working. There are definitely more families who bought into the first building releases at City Walk 2.
It’s one of the best outcomes for the Dubai’s property market, when you see more end-users buying homes. It adds up to higher mortgages, marked increases in home ownership among the city’s resident base. There will be another eight phases for release at City Walk Central Park. As usual, we will time the release in keeping with market trends.
The Central Park City Walk was initially launched by Meraas in 2018 - will this be Dubai Holding Real Estate’s main focus this year?
It was 2020 that DHRE was formed after the decision to merge Meraas with Dubai Holding. On the real estate side, it meant the coming together of Dubai Properties, the real estate arm of Meraas, North25, which is into project management, and Ejadah, which does facilities management at our communities.
Apart from Central Park, there is the ‘Port de la Mer’ and we are very much committed to completing that masterplan. The intent is to make sure all the projects we have right now deliver on their full lifestyle promise. There is also the Villanova villa and townhouse community (in Dubailand). So, you can see the diverse product mix and that will serve Dubai’s real estate needs. These are all unique investment opportunities to live, work and enjoy. Having the right balance of projects shows our commitment to the completing all our masterplans.
In other words, there will not be any new developments from you in the near future?
Correct. The immediate future is about finalising masterplans of the projects we had already announced.
Has the full integration of all the DHRE components been done?
It was a tough process, with the pandemic in the background. But by early December last year, coinciding with the long weekend from the National Day, the full integration of all systems was achieved.
An integration process is always tough, especially from an operational point of view. We started operating as a single entity within one to two months of the merger announcement.
Having done that part too, we will go all out on building up our masterplans. Delivering to plan - and market needs - is what we are all about.