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Site visit: Saadiyat Beach Residences

on Jan 29, 2013

John Bambridge visits TDIC’s latest residential development on Saadiyat Island as the spotlight returns to the developer’s $27bn masterplan in the wake of major project announcements

The launch of The District, a 17-hectare retail project in Saadiyat’s Cultural District, and the award to Arabtec of the long delayed main contract for the Louvre Abu Dhabi, have done much to restore industry confidence in the progress of the Tourism Development & Investment Co. (TDIC) on its extravagant masterplan for the island.

However, these high profile bursts of attention belie the broader nature of ongoing development on Saadiyat, and in particular TDIC’s residential projects, an element of the masterplan that though indispensable can get forgotten about in the race for the flagship tenders.

The Saadiyat Beach Residences is the latest such project that TDIC has been nurturing. Last December, a ceremony marked the handover to eager tenants of the first 285-unit batch of properties on the gated development. These will be followed by a further 210 homes in a second phase being completed this year.

Construction on the project, with its final tally of 495 residential units across its six low-rise apartment buildings, is being headed by Dhabi Contracting. Both phases involve three five-storey structures, which together cluster around a community centre and the project's array of sports and leisure facilities.

On site is Ahmed Al Fahim, executive director of marketing, communications, sales and leasing at TDIC. By the pool of the largely completed communal area, he says: “We are delighted to welcome the first tenants to this new residential community on Saadiyat.”

Billed as a middle-income development in a luxury location, the Beach Residences have risen alongside their costlier cousins, the Saadiyat Beach Villas, which are now into their third phase and already 80%-sold.

Commenting on this juxtaposition, Al Fahim notes: “With the high level of interest we continuously receive from prospective residents, Saadiyat Beach Residences has proven to be just as appealing and an ideal opportunity for people searching for reasonably priced apartments in Abu Dhabi.”

While the project may seem ahead of the curve in terms of the development of facilities on the island, by 2014 the education stages from pre-school up to university level will be available on Saadiyat with the opening of both the Cranleigh Abu Dhabi school, which will become the largest school campus in Abu Dhabi, and the New York University Abu Dhabi, which will host 2,500 students.

“We want to build whatever the university requires,” agrees Al Fahim, but beyond this the 27km2 Saadiyat Island is expected to one day be home to 145,000 people.

He adds the master developer is looking at selling plots of land near to the New York University campus, priced in the range of $161 per m2, for schemes of about eight-storeys high, that will blend student housing, homes and offices aimed at supporting the new university faculty.

“This year we are concentrating on our developments, but we want other developers to build on Saadiyat too. It is not economical for us to develop the whole island, and it is good for the market to involve other developers.”

Dhabi Contracting, in its role as main contractor on Saadiyat Beach Residences, has been discretely productive, leaving a record that will stand it in good stead to carry out further residential projects on the island.

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