Marina 101
Marina 101... In terms of location prominence and prestige, the project ticks all the boxes. Property owners are hoping a new buyer comes in and the remaining 3% of the works get done at the earliest. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: The stalled skyscraper project Marina 101 could - finally - be close to getting a new owner, which, if it happens, will offer some much-needed relief to investors who bought units as far back as 2005.

Banking and construction industry sources say that a Dubai-based investor has done due diligence on a possible buy of Marina 101 – a six-basement plus 101-storey structure (and 371 metres high). The project is at the 97 per cent completion stage, and estimates are that injecting another Dh100 million to Dh200 million could see it being fit for occupation.

The Dubai Marina based project stalled after the developer, Sheffield Real Estate, ran up sizeable debts with lenders as well failed to meet payments to contractors.

The identity of the new investor has not been revealed, but real estate and construction sources say that the buyer’s intent is quite clear and comes with the required funds at hand. Dubai authorities are also working on ways to fast-track clearance to revive stalled or cancelled projects and ensure investor interests get safeguarded.

There had been past efforts to revive Marina 101, but there were always hurdles getting in the way. This time, everyone involved seems bullish about the deal coming through, sources add.

New Dubai Tribunal for cancelled projects
It was in December that Dubai set up a Tribunal to oversee all delayed or cancelled projects from over the years and ensure that investor interests are taken care of. The Tribunal's findings on all such projects will be deemed as the final word.

As prestigious as it gets

At its launch in 2005, it was hailed as one of the most impressive new addresses being built in Dubai Marina, and was also among the first to come up with the hotel and residential elements within the building. (Hard Rock Hotel was even signed up to manage the hotel, which was to have more than 30 storeys dedicated to it.)

Legal tangles

“There have been a number of lawsuits filed by both banks as well as individual investors against the developer,” said an industry source. “But equally, there have been negotiations that are at an advanced stage, which entails the building could be completed in an expedited time frame.

“This would come as relief for investors as it would allow for the apartments to be monetized once the legal claims are removed.”

Marina 101 - What made it special
Ahead of its launch and start of construction, the project – one of the tallest structures in Dubai – was to have been completed by 2008. The offplan sales was an instant success, with Dubai Marina being a coveted spot with investors and who were willing to pay a premium for what was a prestige project.

Cost of construction was estimated at Dh700 million to Dh800 million. But delays and cost inflation could have added more. The scale of Marina 101 is quite impressive – 1 million square feet of built-up area, 101 storeys and six basement levels. All in a prime spot at Dubai Marina.

Putting together a new deal

The deal if it is struck with the interested buyer will require that all legal claims against the project be brought to a “standstill”. Once that happens, contractors are signed up to complete the project, the Dubai Land Department is then approached for the final clearance certificate, and the handovers to buyers start.

It could also mean the “original developer possibly retain some stake in the project through units,” the source added. “An infusion of cash to finish the project would involve paying off existing contractors under some sort of a payment plan whilst having a standstill agreement with lender banks.

“This would allow for the new investor to monetize some of the assets. Agreeing to this standstill agreement is what has taken time, but a deal is close at hand.”

Marina 101
A further infusion of Dh100 million plus should see all of the additional construction and fitout requirements getting completed. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

No more delays

All who had invested in Marina 101 apartments will be hoping that a deal gets done at the soonest. After 16 years of waiting, it is the least they can expect.