Damac Properties relaunches Damac Tower in Beirut

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Damac Properties has revived plans for a luxury high-rise development in Lebanon, but with a new partner in the distinctively premium label Versace.

The announcement of the Damac Tower was formally made in Beirut yesterday, and also potentially signifies the first time in 20 months that a Dubai-based developer has launched a new project.

The choice of Beirut is also fitting given Lebanon’s — and its real estate market’s — history of constantly reinventing itself through periods of boom and testing times alike.

“We feel the time is now right for the launch of this high-end product to a market which continues to show signs of buoyancy and recovery,” said Niall McLoughlin, senior vice-president at Damac Holding.

The Damac Tower is looking at a completion date in 2013.

On whether the developer would now prefer taking on new projects in non-UAE markets, McLoughlin said: “We were never out — given the economic environment we realigned our business objective to focus on delivering and contracting. We are always on the lookout for opportunities.”

During the boom phase, Damac identified Lebanon as one of its key overseas territories. A luxury development in alliance with Ivana Trump — Donald’s former wife and a celebrity in her own right — was launched. But then the project became a casualty of the 2006 war with Israel. “When we realised that we could not proceed with the Ivana Trump project, all customers were refunded,” added McLoughlin.

Now, the Damac Tower will come up on the same site as the earlier planned one. But the look and feel changes with the Versace name being added.

The Versace alliance represents a continuation of sorts for Damac. “In 2009, Damac joined forces and introduced Versace Home’s first retail outlet in the UAE at the Dubai Mall,” said McLoughlin. “Damac’s experience in building luxury properties and Versace’s design has resulted in a state-of-the-art property in the fashion capital of the Middle East.”

The developer hopes to make full use of the still subdued cost of construction.

“Damac’s pricing model takes care of reasonable uncertainty of variable costs,” McLoughlin added. “However, the benefit of lower construction cost is eventually for investors.”

The enabling works contract for the project has been awarded, and the contractors are expected to finish this phase in nine months.

Costs start at $700,000

The Damac Tower, located in downtown Beirut, will not be sold off-plan.

“Today’s market demands higher commitment from the developer,” said Niall McLoughlin, senior vice-president at Damac Holding.

“Over the last two years our objective has been to deliver and continue with construction.”

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