Marina 101
On the construction side, after a two-year delay, the Dh1 billion Marina 101 development is inching closer to completion. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: The hotel part of the unfinished Dh1 billion, 100-storey skyscraper Marina 101 in Dubai Marina is up for auction again – just months after getting no bids for three earlier attempts at trying to find a buyer. The minimum bid price this time? All of Dh182 million for a project located in one of the most prestigious locations in the city.

The price tag is a sharp climb down from the Dh361 million that the seller was asking for the hotel, spread over the ground level plus 32 storeys, in May last. Why anyone would want to slash bid prices to this extent at a time when property values in Dubai are firming up is anyone’s guess. Whether this sharply revised price is enough to finally land a buyer is the other big question.

The Marina 101 tower was launched in mid-2005 as one of the most prestigious private developer-owned offplan projects in Dubai at the time. On the sales side, it was an instant success – but when it came to the construction, the tower stumbled from one crisis to another.

In 2019, construction was halted after the developer, Sheffield Real Estate, racked up heavy debts and could not meet its repayment obligations to its banks, with India’s Bank of Baroda being the main lender. According to market sources, the auction for the hotel component could only have been initiated by the lenders.

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A distraction

“Why can’t they wait for a few more months and let the project finish?” queries one investor in the tower, who has now been waiting for five years after he bought and paid off the entire cost of an apartment there. “Placing the hotel for auction serves no purpose – it will be nothing but a distraction.

“Instead, everyone should work with RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Agency), complete the construction and, hopefully, get the handovers done.”

Progress on site

When work stalled in 2019, the project had gone past the 97 per cent completion stage. Then came the nerve-wracking phase when apartment owners – nearly all of whom had already paid up in full - kept waiting for someone to take it past the finish line. Finally, a few weeks ago, work re-started on the 3 per cent that was left to do. According to construction industry sources, most of the sub-contracts should be in place within days.

Chances for a successful auction

As for the latest auctioning attempt of the hotel part, market sources are unsure this too stands any chance of finding a buyer. “For any investor, value will come from buying the whole tower and not just one part of it,” said a consultant. “Slashing the minimum bid from Dh361 million to Dh182 million in five months will not inspire confidence.

“The only rationale course is to finish the project and get all the clearances from RERA. Even if there are investors interested in the hotel portion, they will still need reassurances on all other related issues.

“Can the entity which initiated the auction assure that?”

None of the earlier auctioning off process got even a single bid, which itself is a clear indication of what potential investors are looking for – and what they don’t want. The seller of the G+32-storey part at Marina 101 will soon find out whether a price slash will be enough.