Burj tower the new commercial heart of Dubai

31 December 2009

The Burj Dubai is the anchor project in what is expected to become a commercial centre for the emirate

The 818-metre-tall Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest tower, so commands attention on the skyline and in the media that it is easy to forget it is just one of several structures in a larger development that will form the municipality’s new heart.

The AED73bn ($20bn) Downtown Burj Dubai – local developer Emaar’s flagship scheme – covers 1 square kilometre and comprises a mixture of residential, commercial, retail, hotel and leisure projects, some completed, some yet to begin.

Downtown Burj Dubai in numbers

40,000 sq m - Floor area of Burj Dubai’s Armani hotel

AED3,500 sq ft - Cost of residential property in Downtown Burj Dubai

1,200 - Number of shops in Dubai Mall

Source: MEED

Commercial properties include the 93,000-square-metre Emaar Square, the two-tower Boulevard Plaza, The Offices and corp-orate suites within the Burj Dubai itself.

Residential space also forms a major part of Downtown Burj Dubai. The Residences, comprising nine towers, is spread across 20 acres, while the Old Town features 1,560 residential units. Within the Old Town Island, a district of the development set around a market square and a series of courtyards, there are a further 405 apartments, 161 hotel rooms, 83 suites and 15 restaurants and cafes. To date, five hotels have been built within the development: the 196-room Address Downtown Burj Dubai, the 197-room Al-Manzil, the Qamardeen with 184 rooms, The Palace with 242 rooms and the 244-room Address Dubai Mall.

Grand scale

The retail component is on a grand scale. The $750m Dubai Mall, with more than 1 square kilo-metre of floor space, houses more than 1,200 stores and the gold souk. The Old Town also features the shopping and entertainment development Souk al-Bahar, which comprises more than 100 shops and 22 restaurants and cafes.

A further planned retail development, a 3.5km shopping strip called Emaar Boulevard, running through the centre of Downtown Burj Dubai, is currently on hold, according to regional projects tracker MEED Projects.

Emaar is also planning to build a $136m tramway system connecting the Burj Dubai, Dubai Mall, Old Town and the various business parks, residences and hotels.

One of the key components of Downtown Burj Dubai will be the Armani Hotel & Residences. The 40,000-square-metre hotel, part of the Burj Dubai itself, will have 160 rooms and suites on levels nine to 16 of the tower.

Despite the high-profile nature of the project and the international brands that have affiliated with it, property prices in the Downtown area have fallen.

Figures from Dubai-based Landmark Advisory, the property investment services division of Landmark Properties, show residential sales within the Downtown Burj Dubai district are currently AED3,500-4,500 a square foot, and commercial property prices are AED3,000-5,000 a sq ft.

At their peak in September 2008, prices for residential and commercial property were AED13,000 a sq ft and AED14,500 a sq ft respectively.

Prices have fallen heavily across all areas of the emirate in the wake of the downturn but there are signs that prices in the Burj Dubai area are now stabilising. “The Downtown Burj area has always been an area of interest, and accordingly we have seen price stability restored in that area sooner than elsewhere,” says Michael Michael, director of sales and leasing at Landmark Properties. “Its strategic location in the heart of Dubai means it has all the attributes to be a good investment.

“While we saw significant declines in prices during the global economic crisis last year, we have seen more stability during the second and third quarters of this year. You will also see few underpriced properties in the area, as the ‘distressed’ owners are no longer in the market.

“It is difficult to judge what will happen over the next 12 months but, in my opinion, Downtown Burj Dubai has the potential to become the ‘capital’ of Dubai.”

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