Nakheel to double Dragon Mart, build two malls

Dubai developer forges ahead with two new projects and expansion plans

Nakheel says work on doubling the size of the Dragon Mart centre will start in 2012. Photo: Construction Week
Nakheel says work on doubling the size of the Dragon Mart centre will start in 2012. Photo: Construction Week

Dubai developer Nakheel said Monday it plans to more than double the size of its existing Dragon Mart Mall and build two shopping centres in Dubai.

The company has reached a deal with contractor Dar Al-handasah to design and oversee the addition of 158,000m2 of retail space and 5,000 parking spaces at the China-themed mall.

At 1.2km long, Dragon Mart is already the largest trading centre for Chinese products outside mainland China, with more than 2,800 stores – many of which offer discounted products.

Nakheel also appointed Arif and Bintoak Consulting Architects and Engineers to supervise the building of two shopping centers at its Jumeirah Park and Discovery Gardens projects, it said.

The developer is restructuring about $13bn of debt after the global recession caused property demand in Dubai to evaporate. Home prices slid by more than 60% from their peak in mid-2008, forcing developers to cancel and delay projects.

The Jumeirah Park shopping centre will provide 4,645m2 for stores serving both the Jumeirah Park and Jumeirah Island communities. The 13,000m2 Discovery Gardens mall will cater to the local and Al Furjan communities, Nakheel said.

Hannah Jeffery, head of real estate consultants Cushman & Wakefield Dubai, said the expansion of Dragon Mart reflected the mall’s low-cost appeal for consumers.

“The expansion…[reflects] the unique positioning of the mall in comparison to other retail offerings in the city and the underlying consumer demand for budget retail options,” she said.

“It appeals not only to UAE residents, but also residents of other GCC countries and further afield.”

Nakheel told Arabian Business in May that footfall at the mall rose 84% in 2010, on the year-earlier period.

The developer’s former CEO, Chris O’Donnel, said in November that Nakheel planned to build up to five community malls across its Dubai developments, and to refurbish Ibn Battuta.

The shift in focus towards community and midmarket malls has been seen as an opportunity to fill a gap in Dubai’s largely high-end retail market, Jeffery said.

“Until recently there was a lack of focus on both the community and budget retail sectors, serving the local work force and population. Developers and investors have now realised there is a gap in the market and are keen to explore and capitalise on these opportunities.”

Construction on the three projects is set to start in the first half of 2012, Nakheel said.

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