Site visit: XXII Carat, Palm Jumeirah

Russian developer, Forum Group, says it is progressing smoothly with the construction of its first high-end, luxury villa project, XXII Carat, located on the Palm Jumeirah in Dubai

The entire construction package has been awarded to Abu Dhabi-based Teejan Contracting.
The entire construction package has been awarded to Abu Dhabi-based Teejan Contracting.

Dubai boasts a thriving luxury real estate market, and debutant developer, Forum Group, is all set to tap into it with the launch of its high-end villa community, XXII Carat, on Palm Jumeirah. The Russian developer launched its first Dubai venture with 22 exclusive villas, covering 4.6ha, near the end of the Palm Jumeirah West Crescent.

The gated community offers beachfront living on the Palm, next to the One and Only resort. The seven-bedroom villas range in size from 743m2 to 1,208m2, and enjoy amenities like private pools and landscaped gardens. Prices for the villas – named Sapphire, Ruby, and Emerald – begin at $10.3m (AED38m) and go up to $25m (AED92m).

Anton Yachmenev, managing director of Forum Group, says: “This is our first project in Dubai. We studied the market and observed that there is a shortage of seven-bedroom villas in the emirate. And with the Palm being the epitome of luxury, we had to come up with a unique proposition.”

The developer came to Dubai in late 2008 and purchased several plots, one on the Palm and others elsewhere in the city. But then, Yachmenev states, was not the right time to start the development, due to the ongoing financial crisis in the country. “But now this is our flagship project, announced in 2015, and which we intend to complete within the given time frame. Currently, Dubai is undergoing an interesting phase and we plan to take full advantage.”

According to Yachmenev, residents of the Mediterranean architecture-inspired villas will enjoy a luxurious, hotel-inspired lifestyle, with spacious accommodation, the convenience of a 24/7 concierge, and exclusive access to private beachfronts spanning 219m. He says: “The villas ensure absolute luxury and comfort, designed with precision across interior and landscape architecture. People usually get amazed with the size of the villas, and what goes inside them.

“We have used the location and the entire land plot of the villa to our advantage, as that’s what our unique selling point (USP) is. Where we come from, we always believe that a house of such sheer size should sit on a proper plot of land.”

The centrepiece of the private community will be a hotel apartment building, comprising 10 units, including two penthouses. Yachmenev says that all the household and maintenance, garage, and parking facilities will be provided through the 24/7 concierge service at the hotel reception. “Everything will be centrally located, whereby the residents can just pick up the phone and order any service that they could want from the concierge. We will also take care of the pool, the garden, the villa façades, and the general cleaning of the common areas.”

The entire community is divided into three rows of homes, with eight each on the periphery and six in the middle. The middle row of villas is perched on an elevated platform, with an underground parking garage. The villas do not come fully furnished, but furniture packages can be arranged to suit customers’ needs. Milan-based Transforma Design has worked on several interior options to appeal to varying tastes.

Yachmenev says: “We have two options for the interiors. The first one is classic Mediterranean and the second is basic fit-out, where we will provide the finishing touches to the villa as per the residents’ choice.”

Construction began on the project in August 2015 and, so far, around 40% of it is complete. With the scheduled completion deadline at the end of 2017, Yachmenev says that they are on the right track. “The entire main contract has been awarded to Abu Dhabi-based contractor, Teejan Contracting. Structural works are almost done, with everything else running simultaneously.”

Fit-out is expected to begin within the next few months, with plastering having already been completed on some of the villas. Natural gypsum plaster is used for the inside walls, whereas clay bricks and rockwool insulation have been selected for the exteriors, due to their temperature control and soundproofing capabilities. Yachmenev says: “Clay bricks were difficult to find. The ones that Teejan is using for the project have been imported from Saudi Arabia. We are using locally manufactured plaster, whereas the copper has been transported from Fujairah, roof tiles are from Italy and, last but not least, the concrete is produced locally.

“We have home automation systems for all the villas, although we don’t have any music features. We believe automation should serve the purpose of reducing the bills for the homeowners and make [life] simple.”

But constructing the ultimate luxury project comes with its own set of challenges, says Yachmenev. “There has been delays on the project but they are not due to the contractor’s non-actions. We have made some changes in the villas, only in the interest of making them better. We talked to our clients and, as a result, we introduced changes, which led to the delay. All the changes made are related to increasing the size of the villa. We have an in-house project management team and we are quite aware of the issues that might crop up.”

He also says that the project has received a lot of interest from high-net-worth individuals from the CIS countries, India, and Europe. Talks are currently underway, and from Yachmenev says that most of the buyers are end-users. “The community offers fantastic views and a well chalked-out masterplan. In this product category, I can proudly say that we hardly have any competition. We are in talks with our clients. For a high-end project like ours, nobody expects it to be sold in one go. This type of property doesn’t sell like hot cakes. First you will have to prove that you can deliver it.”

With no immediate plans to expand in other emirates, Yachmenev reveals that the developer is currently at the feasibility study stage for another project in Dubai.

He concludes: “Real estate development is a learning curve. And I am sure that our products will definitely carve a new name for luxury in Dubai.”

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