With the miles of blue and white flags lining the roads and giant billboards heralding projects such as Boris Becker Business Tower, Niki Lauda Twin Towers and the Michael Schumacher Business Avenue, the pending arrival of Business Bay has been hard to miss. Comprising around 240 skyscrapers spread across 64 million square feet between Al Khail Road and Sheikh Zayed Road interchanges 1 and 2, the project is scheduled for completion in 2015 at a cost of Dhs 110 billion.
Built around the newly extended Dubai Creek, office and residential towers will be interspersed with smaller waterways, pathways and roads. The whole area will be landscaped and the intention is to create Dubai’s version of Manhattan. With an expected population of 191,000, residential and commercial units will make up 20 percent and 15 percent of the project respectively, with the remaining 65 percent developed as ‘mixed use’. A comprehensive infrastructure designed to provide for the entire community will include parks, schools, hotels, restaurants and cafes, as well as medical, retail and entertainment facilities. The rationale that Business Bay is a way of catering for the growing demand of the new residents and multinationals moving to the city is hard to dispute. Executive Towers, a mixed-use development, comprising 185 commercial units and 2,151 residential units is already sold out. An entire eight floor building in Bay Square, another mixed-use development, was completely sold out within hours of its release.
The Dhs 6 billion Bay Square, scheduled for completion and handover at the end of 2009, will be a pedestrian-only zone comprising 13 mixed-use buildings with 554 commercial units and 326 residential and retail units. Built around a central plaza with cafes, restaurants, shops and water attractions along its canal promenades, the project aims to create a lively ambience for residents and businesses both day and night. “A distinctive component of Bay Square will be its unique appeal to commercial investors seeking a creative and less corporate lifestyle and work ambience,” says developer Dubai Properties.
Now nearing completion, with an anticipated handover towards the end of this year the Dhs 3 billion Executive Towers wit! run along the newly extended Dubai Creek and are already clearly visible from Sheikh Zayed Road. The project’s 12 towers in total will comprise 10 residential and one commercial building – the Aspect Tower, plus the 312 room Business Bay Hotel. Residential units will range from studio apartments at around 700 square feet to the more opulent executive penthouses at around 6,000 square feet.
The main theme of the Executive Towers project will be the Podium, a creek side corniche of cafes, restaurants, retailing outlets and recreational facilities designed, says the developer, “to be a beating heart of activities for all residents”.
A third landmark development will be Vision Tower, a shimmering luminous beacon of transparent glass which will rise 260 metres and be positioned at the main entrance of Business Bay. It is described as having everything visionaries would expect, including uniquely designed office space – no one unit the same as any other, exclusive health facilities, commanding views of the Sheikh Zayed Road, Business Bay and the extended creek, plus direct access to the shopping malls and dining options of Bay Avenue.
Sporting celebrity endorsement
The development currently generating the most publicity and interest however is the celebrity endorsed Sports Legends Trilogy lowers. Sporting celebrities have already made their mark on the UAE property scene, with the Colin Montgomerie golf course, Greg Norman’s contribution to the Jumeirah Golf Estates development and the Pele backed football academy in Abu Dhabi.
What do these sporting legends actually bring to a prestigious development such as Business Bay – particularly when the sporting link is not that apparent? It may seem somewhat random to link a sports star with a non-sporting commercial enterprise. However, Robin Lohmann, managing director of Trilogy Project developer, ACI, asserts that, on the contrary, using a sports celebrity in this context is what makes ACI’s projects stand out in an increasingly competitive market.So how much involvement do Becker, Schumacher and Lauda have in their respective Business Bay projects?
Allegedly, it costs US$250,000 plus a private jet for Schumacher just to turn up. What exactly do he and other sporting stars do for their money? According to AC1, all three have hands-on involvement in their project, including the design and planning of the venture – plus they sit on the board of venture – plus they sit on the boar directors. This is slightly at odds with a recent report in which Becker admitted that he has very little involvement in the Boris Becker Business Tower, other than helping to market it.
Changing the face of Dubai
The pace of development in the UAE, particularly Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah, is mind blowing. For trailblazing Dubai, the immense Business Bay is just one of many large-scale projects on the books of Dubai Properties – just one of the growing multitude of developers currently operating in Dubai. For many years expatriates have mused over what would happen to Dubai when the oil ran out and the bubble burst. Today, that elusive bubble looks less likely to burst than ever before, as more and more high profile projects take shape, come on line, and sell fast.