The Fox Hill terrace apartments are sought after and offer huge balconies; those with garden views command a premium. Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM

 Those who had classified UpTown MotorCity as a sleepy, suburban residential enclave removed from the thick of the Downtown action are now retracting their words. With the community and its neighbouring projects gaining some self-sufficiency over the years, there are many takers, with both property purchasers and tenants showing interest in the project, built along the lines of UpTown Mirdif.

On a cursory drive through UpTown MotorCity, several phases such as Sherlock House, Shakespeare Circus, Marlowe House, Claverton House and Dicken’s Circus catch your attention.

Real-estate agents, however, insist that apart from the nomenclature, there isn’t much to differentiate between these buildings. "They may look different from the outside, but are quite similar in specifications. The variances are mostly restricted to the kitchen style [closed or open], location and so on," explains Carina Lundmark, property consultant for Halcon Real Estate.

Nevertheless, the Fox Hill terrace apartments that are situated above the strip mall on the main road are sought after and, therefore, command a higher sales price and rent. Although the noise of races at the Dubai Autodrome over the weekends could be a drawback for families seeking some peace and quiet, it appeals to motorsports lovers.

"Fox Hill apartments are priced higher since they come with huge terraces; the terrace is almost the size of the apartment itself. However, since most balconies in MotorCity apartments are quite spacious, not all clients would be willing to pay extra for the additional outdoor space. In terms of the interior layout, most units are similar," observes Carina. The New Bridge Hill apartments on the stretch of road leading from the Arabian Ranches to MotorCity also feature large terraces.

Current sales price and rentals

The unit types available in this community range from studios to three-bedroom apartments and come with equipped kitchens (white goods in place). As per data from Halcon Real Estate, the current sales price for a studio in UpTown MotorCity is Dh350,000, a one-bedroom apartment is Dh480,000 to Dh500,000, a two-bedroom apartment is Dh750,000 to Dh800,000 and a three-bedroom apartment is Dh1 million. Meanwhile, the current rents are Dh30,000 for a studio, Dh44,000 for a one-bedroom apartment, Dh65,000 for
two bedrooms and Dh90,000 for a three-bedroom apartment. One would have to shell out approximately Dh10,000 extra per year to rent a Fox Hill apartment.

Tenants would typically have to pay around Dh2,000 to Dh3,000 extra for a unit in a better location and on a higher floor. Carina explains, "Tenants are sometimes very keen on a particular view or a floor. The rents vary depending on the view the apartment offers. For instance, the most sought-after apartment is one that offers a garden view, not blocked by another building or facing the road." This applies to the Fox Hill units too, where apartments that overlook a garden are favoured over the autodrome-facing ones.

"For road-facing apartments, the only downside is having to contend with noise of the traffic as well as that of activities in the autodrome. The view is still open. Fox Hill apartments also benefit from their proximity to the retail strip. Besides, the ground floor is elevated in Fox Hill units," says Carina, adding that these units typically command the lowest rents and sales prices.

According to Raplh Rau, a homeowner in MotorCity, "I live in Norton Court 3 where the autodrome noise is a non-issue. I moved in when the apartment was handed over in April 2009. I invested here because Union Properties had a good track record of delivering Green Community and UpTown Mirdif."

Unlike, say, some buildings in the Dubai Marina, where residents’ ocean views have been blocked by the Jumeirah Beach Residence towers, MotorCity apartments generally offer open views, even if that’s of the boulevard or the small roundabouts in each cluster. One also does not have to contend with too many cars within this gated community. Another advantage of MotorCity units is the large basement storage space at hand.

Attractions: location, recreation and family orientation

"A few years ago, MotorCity was considered isolated. Today, it has emerged as a strategic location. The Mall of the Emirates is
a ten-minute drive away. It’s also surrounded by other developed communities such as Arabian Ranches, Victory Heights and Sports City," Carina points out. "Now, MotorCity is self-sufficient. All facilities are within walking distance of your apartment."

She recommends the community for young couples who have just had their first child.

Apart from housing the largest Spinneys in the UAE, the strip mall in MotorCity also houses retail outlets, cafés, restaurants, banks and pharmacies. "There are many coffee shops and a wide choice of restaurants — Curry and Noodle (Indian and Far Eastern cuisine), Bhoujan (Indian), Cedar Tree and Al Arrab (both Lebanese), Jimmy’s Killer Prawns, Wendy’s Burgers, Lucky’s Pizza, London Fish & Chips and so on," Ralph says. The community is also dotted with several playgrounds, pools, gyms and landscaped walkways. Other recreational options include go-karting at the Dubai Autodrome, the Equestrian and Polo Club at Arabian Ranches or the cricket stadium in Sports City.

"Uptown MotorCity is the best option for tranquil suburban apartment living," according to Ralph. Agreeing, Gassan Ghellal, business development manager for Halcon Real Estate adds, "It’s a family-oriented community where very spacious apartments with quality finishes are available at attractive rates."

Issues: schools, transport, walls and cooling

However, the commute to central Dubai may be tedious for a few residents. Meet Javier Cervino, who recently moved out of MotorCity to The Greens. "MotorCity is not very far flung. But with small children going to school, it can involve four trips a day if the children have different exit times. With parents who are not confident about school buses, this can be a big difference," he says, adding, "I think The Greens is more family-oriented. There are more children, the residents are more friendly and there is more of a community feeling."

There are in fact no schools within MotorCity; children would have to be enrolled at either the Jumeirah English Speaking School in Arabian Ranches or the Repton School in Dubai Silicon Oasis. There is also no Metro station or bus service that caters to this community.

In addition to these considerations, residents complain about the difficulty of mounting fixtures beyond a certain weight on apartment walls since they are made of gypsum.

"Residents in the new phase [Claverton House] say the partition walls between apartments are made of gypsum drywall. In Norton Court, the walls between apartments are concrete and only the inner partitions are gypsum. My LCD TV has been effortlessly mounted directly onto the concrete wall of my living room," Ralph says. "Another issue that tends to annoy some residents is that the access door locks keep failing," he adds.

Tenants in Uptown MotorCity are also upset by having to pay the fixed annual Emicool chiller fees over and above their consumption charges. "The main grouse that a few tenants have is that agents never informed them about having to pay the fixed annual capacity charge. I have not had any issue with Emicool billing other than the general complaint that district cooling is more expensive than an air conditioner directly connected to Dewa [Dubai Electricity and Water Authority]," Ralph notes.

Although pets are allowed in the community, agents suggest that tenants first check with
their landlord before opting to bring in their dogs.

While residents have basement parking bays, those with two cars also use the side parking slots dotted throughout the community, thereby taking away slots for visitor’s vehicles.