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The wait goes on.

This refers to 'High-rise world is changing' (GDN, March16).

'Viewpoint' refers to investors in Dubai owning strata title; well I have already been informed by senior Bahrain government officials that they too have been contemplating altering existing laws so that off-plan apartment buyers in Bahrain could register personal ownership of their unfinished apartment prior to residential tower completion. This would be an essential part in obtaining permanent residency in Bahrain.

However, unlike many of the failing developers in Bahrain, private real estate developers in Dubai have defined their project from the outset and are not easily deflected away from its critical path to reach a successful completion.

I will cite two of many examples of illogical practices within Bahrain.

(1) Villamar set out to be three residential towers with many upmarket facilities within the base of each tower. It was intended that capital from off-plan apartment sales would fund the build, yet partway through the project, application was made for the middle residential tower to become a hotel.

Result? Loss of a third of the capital to fund the entire build and their existing off-plan apartment buyers are still waiting to occupy their unfinished apartments.

(2) Marina West is a classic example of muddled thinking by the developer from the outset, who continually ignored the necessity of taking on additional financiers as partners to complete this major private real estate project.

In 2004, the developer presented plans to the Northern Governorate Council for a BD75 million holiday resort project consisting of a hotel and 11 residential towers (containing 1,000 furnished flats) to be built around a sea going marina.

This beachside resort offered massive potential income to Bahrain from visiting holidaymakers and it was handily sited for those coming across to Bahrain via the Saudi Causeway.

According to Press attending the 2004 council meeting, Marina West was to be a self-sustaining project with its own water and electricity supply, and the developer stated the entire project would be funded by a private Saudi investor.

Amongst the promises the developer made in 2004 to councillor Dossary of the Northern Governorate Council, Marina West would recruit 300 employees from the local jobseekers list, and donate three per cent of annual profits to local clubs or charities. The developer also gave an undertaking to rebuild the Fishermen's' Wharf!

In 2005, the developer made the same detailed presentation to the hierarchy but now it was a BD100m project, to be funded solely by J Holdings, plus outlining a BD20m project of five residential towers located at the junction of the Saudi Causeway and the Janabiya Highway.

Around this same period, in partnership with an ex-Justice Minister in Oman, the developer claimed his success in raising BD16m from a finance house for the Marina West project and was granted as the 70pc bondholder responsible for raising $940m needed to build the first phase of the Blue City project in Oman [Bloomberg].

It wasn't until December 2006 that Marina West announced with undue haste the sale to the general public of 1,280 off-plan freehold apartments within 11 Residential Towers; the project was no longer the original proposed holiday resort of 1,000 furnished flats.

In December 2006, the developer told the local Press that Asteco was appointed the sole marketing body for the Marina West 1,280 off-plan freehold apartments.

This was revised late in 2007 to 1,168 apartments as Residential Tower No1 was designated to be the on-site five-star hotel with a potential loss of revenue from 112 potential off-plan apartment buyers.

In April 2007 my Marina West sales brochure consisted of 14 pages, all roughly stapled together, giving an artist impression of the completed project, the interior of a duplex apartment, apartment prices, site amenities, fixture and fittings, and map location, but no floor plans for the various apartment types and sizes.

It wasn't until early 2008 that a bound sales brochure appeared with floor plans showing two corners within each of four rooms of the two bedroom simplex apartment were not at 90 degrees. Also the duplex apartments had a large void space running the width of the upper room beyond a low wall which was supposed to prevent children falling down into the room below.

I could go on ad nauseam about the problems that developers of all stalled private real estate projects have and are still creating for their existing off-plan apartment buyers.

I would make one last point to 'Viewpoint' about 'High-rise world is changing' and that is over the last four years, all levels of authority have told me that the off-plan situation should never have been allowed to happen in the first place.

Judging by current adverts in the GDN, off-plan apartment sales without strata title are apparently still being condoned in 2014 by the powers that be.

Additional finance for the Marina West project is solely of the developer's own making. Finance could be resolved forthwith just by Central Bank phoning a renowned international deal-maker here in Bahrain.

This erudite man has an unblemished record of respect and trust attained over the last 40 years ably linking Gulf money towards investment opportunities in the Western world.


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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Geographic Code:7BAHR
Date:Mar 20, 2014
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