Sanjay Sachdev Image Credit: Picture courtesy of Sobha

The Sobha Group has been steadily working on its flagship master community, Sobha Hartland, launching new products as it readies the first homes, including the Hartland Estate Villas, Hartland Green Apartments and Quad Townhouses, for handover starting from the beginning of next year. The spacious, green community, which enjoys a Dubai Canal waterfront position, promotes healthy living with amenities such as a yoga centre, spa, cricket pitch, tennis courts and pools set among parks and green walkways.

Retail and eateries dotting The Boulevard and Walk ensure social activity, and there are plans for a hotel, nurseries and two international schools in the community. Conveniently located in MBR City, residents of Sobha Hartland will have access to Dubai Metro’s green line just across the canal.

PW spoke to Sanjay Sachdev, Managing Director of Sales and Marketing at Sobha Group, to find out more about the project.

You have started marketing your waterfront villa plots in Sobha Hartland. Whose buying?

There are 13 waterfront villa plots for sale and we have sold three. Any individual can buy [the plots], or boutique developers could create their own mini development under our master-plan guidelines. We provide the entire infrastructure.

Do you prescribe the design, style and contractor?

No. Individuals can create their own designs, they just need to meet the official built and Real Estate Regulatory Authority regulations. You could have a pontoon for boats for example. At present these plots are unique to Dubai; they’re the only villa plots available directly on the canal. We can build for the buyers, according to their specs, or they can choose any contractor they like.

In terms of pricing, how does it compare to other porjects in the area? Do you have a payment plan for the land as well?

We launched the land at about Dh1,000 per square foot. Units in the area (Business Bay) sell at about Dh1,500 to Dh1,800 per square foot. The payment depends on the number of plots you are buying. We are flexible on the price — the faster the payment, the lower the price. The standard payment plan is 60 per cent upfront.

Do you also have other plots available?

We’re building 90 per cent of the master plan ourselves; the other 10 per cent includes the villa plots, as well as four G+12 plots. Again the sub-developer can buy the land and build 200-400 units depending on whether the developer wants to provide smaller units or larger ones. But each studio has to have a car park now by regulation. We have sold two of those plots. The land price for the apartment plots, which are all around 40,000 sq ft and launched in December, is Dh250 per square foot. We have another plot for a tower in the centre of the development, which could be 50-61 floors. Lastly, we have a plot for a four-star or preferably a five-star hotel.

What progress have you made on the parts you are developing yourself?

The first school is open and the other is getting ready. We’ve started our villas and the G+8 apartment buildings. We will complete two apartment buildings, Hartland Greens 1 and 3, comprising 167 units, by December with an early 2018 handover. Hartland Greens 2 and 4 will be completed by end of 2018. Then we have many more villas, such as semi-detached ones and apartments to go.

And you’ve just launched the Quad Homes?

Yes, we have about 80 of them, 27 launched in the first phase to be completed by December 2018. They are pretty unique as they are large four-bedders built over three floors with an elevator. The price starts from Dh5.3 million. These homes have the feel of standalone villas where you get to enjoy a bit of privacy. We could have built edge to edge and make more money, but we wanted to give buyers a better experience. We wanted this to be a showpiece development, rather than [just] making a profit.

What prices are we looking at for the different type of units?

Currently, we’re selling the one- to three-bedroom apartments at Dh1,480 per square foot and the studios at Dh1,520 per square foot. Each town house will be around Dh5.2 million, and the villas start from Dh11.5 million. The four- to six-bedroom waterfront villas start at about Dh35 million. They will be completed by December 2018.

Does your extended post-handover payment plan apply to all types of units? And why did you decide to implement it?

Yes, it does. It is 50 per cent paid during construction, 10 per cent on handover and the remaining 40 per cent over four years after handover. We did this to help people get financing. All banks give you 50 per cent home financing the minute the building is complete, and we’ll provide the certificate from the government that we have completed the project. So the 10 per cent at handover can also be covered.

How much have you sold, and what are your expectations this year?

Despite the slowdown last year, we have sold 60-70 per cent of the first phase. We are hoping 2017 will be a positive year, so we’re all geared up for it. In general, prices are expected to go up in the area. We have plenty of buyers from the GCC, India and Pakistan, Levant, Africa and CIS countries. There is no other city like Dubai in the region; it will continue to be a magnet.

Any other developments on the horizon? You’ve talked about an affordable project in the pipeline.

Yes, we have already bought the land for the affordable project, but we haven’t launched it yet. We will do so in the first quarter of this year. There is a lot of demand for that particular price point, but I can’t disclose where the land is yet, [except that it is] not far from Sobha Heartland towards the desert. We also have the Firdous Sobha project in Umm Al Quwain, a partnership with the government there. We are still conducting the feasibility and environmental studies as we have to connect the mainland to the island. Sometime this year we should be able to launch it. We have a few pieces of land in Dubai in prime locations, one on Shaikh Zayed Road near the Gloria Hotel in Media City. We don’t want to launch all simultaneously, depending on the marke