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TECOM: Towering or Tanking?

TECOM: Towering or Tanking?

40 new towers in TECOM; how many may need to be redesigned to better suit the market?

January 8, 2012 3:28 by

Every year since the financial crisis hit, those in the real estate industry have been hoping for a recovery. Predictions were afloat that 2010/2011 and now 2012 will be the year the industry bounces back. And yet, in the same section these rosy predictions are printed are reports of oversupply, cancellations and delay in the UAE’s troubled realty market.
And in the next phase of the UAE’s realty rollercoaster is mega makeovers—which comes right after the deep plunge into depression and then a sudden loop-de-loop of denial.

Take for instance the news that 40 new towers should be completed early this year in developments supervised by TECOM, the Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone Authority (DTMFZA). Mohamed Al Bahri, Executive Director, Zoning Authority Development Control, Tecom Zoning Authority told Emirates 24|7 “Overall, more than 200 sites are under construction, of which some projects are suspended. The progress of the sites are going on in a normal pace. We expect at least 20 percent of the buildings to be completed by early 2012.”

DTMFZA is responsible for Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone which is comprised of Dubai Internet City, Dubai Outsource Zone, Dubai Media City, Dubai Studio City, International Media Production Zone, Dubai Knowledge Village, Dubai International Academic City, DuBiotech and the Energy and Environment Park (Enpark).

Just a few days ago the authority had said that fifteen unfinished towers have gotten the go ahead to convert from commercial to either residential, healthcare or hotel in 2011. The DTMFZA are not alone in these kinds of alterations. Consider the comment from Mohanad Alwadiya, Managing Director, Harbor Real Estate, who told Emirates 24|7: “The majority of the landlords on Sheikh Zayed Road took the initiative of converting their residential towers or parts of it into commercial towers which were easily rented by companies who were willing to pay any price, and even key money, to get a spot on this VIP business strip during the property boom era.”
Considering that DTMFZA says it has more than 200 sites currently under construction, and that Jones Lang La Salle estimates more than 27,000 homes are scheduled for completion this year—we can’t help but wonder just how many of these units will be re-designed, delayed or just plain put on hold?

Of course, it is to be noted that redesigning towers from commercial units to residential units or vice versa just highlights the inexperienced and over ambitious type of urban planning real estate developers in the UAE are responsible for. After all, even though a developer has as much money as possible (which is clearly not the case for most of the projects here, at least not anymore), there is the dilemma of having to reconstruct the façade as well as the interiors. Picture a vast office space that now has to be split into numerous rooms with the inclusion of plumbing for the kitchen and the bathrooms—all with the intention of making it look at least live-able of course. It’ll take some enterprising architects and interior designers to make some magic happen for these mega makeovers.

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