The central location of the Trust Tower (foreground) will appeal to international corporate occupiers. Image Credit: ANM archive

Commercial tenants in Abu Dhabi will soon have an additional 72,000 square metres of Grade A office space at their disposal at the Trust Tower, a 59-storey building bang in the middle of Aldar’s grandiose Central Market redevelopment scheme. Aldar claims initial leasing enquiries are gathering momentum at the Trust Tower, scheduled for completion in the second quarter of 2012. The developer eschewed pre-leasing space until the building achieved significant construction milestones.

“It’s a better time to launch the pre-leasing programme now since tenants don’t want to sign leases too early. They want to know when they can get the keys,” says Claire Hughes Munro, senior manager, commercial leasing, Aldar. “We’ve got so much interest in the HQ building in Al Raha Beach since it’s complete. That’s now spilling on to the Trust Tower since we’re nearing completion. We will start our aggressive advertising campaign by September 2011.”

The developer was, however, non-committal about the rents at Trust Tower, adding that rates will be announced in September.

Flexible floor plates

Though the average floor plate in the Trust Tower is approximately 1,350 square metres, the developer is making provisions to split a floor into four units, each spanning roughly 270 square metres. While this is primarily aimed at attracting businesses that are required to move out of villas into purpose-built office space in Abu Dhabi, Aldar insists that an entire range of occupier sizes can be accommodated.

Claire says, “Tenants can also take up a full floor or multiple floors. We can cater to different sizes and this will set us apart in the market. In the HQ building, the units are slightly bigger since the floor plate is roughly 2,500 square metres. However, we have decided to split floors, which allows units up to 270 square metres and these are leasing quickly.”

According to recent research by Asteco, more than 1.3 million square metres of office space is under construction in Abu Dhabi and due to be delivered over the next three years — which will add to the 200,000 square metres of vacant space that’s already available. Unperturbed by reports of supply overhang, Aldar officials insist that the occupational density, location and adaptable Category A fit-out of the Trust Tower will help it stave off competition from counterparts such as the Capital Centre and Sowwah Square.

Patrick Bell, senior development manager, Aldar, says, “Since Sowwah Square is the financial CBD [central business district], it will primarily attract financial institutions. There will still be a lot of institutions that want to remain in the CBD north island and we will cater to them. We strongly believe that this location with its amenities will serve the existing and the future CBD. There will be a flight to quality and we are leading that, in tandem with Mubadala Real Estate and Hospitality.”

Minimising tenants’ fit-out costs

Salient features of the Trust Tower include a ventilated facade that controls the light levels into the building for cooling purposes, high-speed lifts, 1,500 dedicated car parking spaces and flexibility in the ceiling and floor design that enables tenants to customise office space.

Claire says, “We’ve tried to minimise the costs for tenants when they first move in as well as reduce their operational and utility costs. With all the services run down the service channels; tenants do not have to strip the ceilings down, they just need to plug into the existing system. It is, therefore, cheaper for them to fit out space.”

In a bid to maximise floor space at the Trust Tower, the occupational density has been designed at 1:10 (one person per 10 square metres of office space).

“The average occupational density in this region is around 1:15. We constantly receive enquiries from the government and tenants for office space with higher occupational density,” Claire adds.

In addition to a host of retail and F&B amenities in The Souq and the Emporium in the Central Market, Aldar has also agreed commercial terms with an international gym operator (three floors) and a business club within the Trust Tower.

“We’re working with our retail team to ensure that The Souq and the Emporium also house service retailers to meet the daily needs of our corporate occupiers,” says Claire. Further, there will be seven floors of prestigious sky offices in the Trust Tower.

Target tenant profile

Given the strategic location of Trust Tower in Downtown Abu Dhabi, Aldar believes international and local law firms, business conglomerates, government entities, embassies, consulates and foreign missions, oil and gas companies, architects, construction and engineering firms, and so on, will eventually occupy commercial space within the building.

“Businesses functioning out of villas are also a sector that we are actively approaching. A vast majority from the villa market have moved to the HQ building. That’s because they are relatively smaller tenants who can move quickly,” Claire points out.

As construction on the Trust Tower commenced prior to the introduction of the Estidama rating system, Aldar has made provisions in the building foundation to help tenants achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for commercial fit-outs. “We designed the building to have substantial environmental considerations. We are very confident that the Trust Tower can be judged among its peers and allow tenants to have sustainable criteria within their fit-outs,” says Patrick.
The building will be available for larger occupiers to start their fit-outs on a phased basis from November 2011.

Leases can be tailor-made

Apart from signing long-term contracts, Aldar officials also insist that they are open to negotiating other lease terms.

Says Claire, “We will offer very flexible lease terms. We will sit with the tenant and tailor our lease terms in line with their requirements. That makes us very competitive since we don’t take a strict line when it comes to rent negotiation.

“We are signing five-year-plus leases in the HQ building. We are certainly moving away from the one- and two-year leases. Once tenants have amortised their fit-outs, they don’t want to move anywhere else.”

Other projects in Aldar’s commercial portfolio in Abu Dhabi include the
Al Mamoura towers in Muroor, the Baniyas Towers off Al Falah street, the HQ building in Al Raha Beach and the soon-to-be-completed Al Noor tower in Al Muneera, Al Raha Beach.

Central Market phases

  • The Souq – delivered; leasing is ongoing. Circa 250 outlets.
  • Trust Tower – delivery in mid-2012.
  • The Emporium – high-end retail destination with 150 boutiques, 20-plus dining outlets and an eight-screen cinema. Pre-leasing is on. House of Fraser is anchor store.
  • The Domain Tower – 474 premium residential units. Delivery by the end of 2012.
  • Two hotels – five-star Marriott Renaissance Hotel and Marriott Executive Apartments, four-star Marriot Courtyard Hotel; delivery in 2014.