Site visit: Glitz, Dubai Studio City

By incorporating customised design elements into its Glitz residential developments, Danube Properties is making sure that its trio of Dubai projects live up to their name while retaining their attractive prices

Site Visits

Atif Rahman needs only three letters to spell out the kind of reaction that he and the rest of the Danube Properties team are hoping to get from the future residents of the company’s Glitz Residence 1, 2, and 3 developments. Considering that the projects’ shared name is practically synonymous with glamour, his statement should not come as a surprise.

“It’s this wonderful three-letter word: wow,” says Rahman, who is partner and director at Danube Properties. “We want that wow feeling [for the end-users].

“We want end-users to get a sense of grandeur when they enter the building, because with Danube it’s all about creating long-lasting experiences. We carry our brand in our projects, so for us, what matters is not just great promises but also great delivery.”

And, oftentimes, that translates into delivering more than what has been promised, he adds, revealing that in the case of the Glitz properties, this has meant including “extra” design elements, many of which are bespoke and upgrades to what can be found in the sales brochures.

These include external water features that come with granite wall cladding; wall tiles in the lobby that are sourced from Spain and designed specifically for the Glitz developments; planter boxes on each level of the G+8 structures; semi-solid doors for the bedrooms; anti-oxidation paint in the basement parking; kitchen shutters and cabinets that are UV-coated, making them waterproof and easy to clean; and textured paint – specially manufactured by Mas Paints – on all the walls in the common areas.

The small details can make a huge difference in how residents experience their homes, he tells Construction Week, drawing attention to the staircases of the Glitz properties to underscore his point.

He says that, being made of granite and featuring galvanised aluminium handrails, they are not of the “ordinary and boring” variety that can be found in other buildings.

And then there are the chandeliers.

“Again, they are custom-made and designed for Glitz 1, 2, and 3,” he says. “We made some savings during the course of construction, so we decided to install these crystal chandeliers throughout the properties. You’ll find 33 pieces in each corridor of all the Glitz towers.”

Elaborating on how those savings were achieved, he explains that Danube Properties benefits from being the property arm of Danube Group, which has divisions specialising in building materials, home furnishings, and bath fittings, among others products.

“This is our advantage – we can source quality materials at rock-bottom prices, and we can have a factory in one of our international locations customise everything, from doors to chandeliers,” he says, noting that Glitz bath and sanitary fittings were supplied by Danube subsidiary, Milano Italy.

With all Glitz developments based on the same construction and design concepts, he continues, purchasing in bulk has also helped cut down on costs, especially on non-Danube products like the lifts from Kone and the white goods from Electrolux.

“We implemented the same concept and theme in Glitz 1, 2, and 3. This has created economies of scale that have helped us upgrade the quality of delivery, because if you place a bulk order, you are able to secure a better price.”

In addition to allowing Danube to improve upon the aesthetic components of its projects, the reduction in costs has helped the developer – which prides itself on its affordable housing portfolio – to keep the properties firmly within the budget of its target market.

Rahman acknowledges that the property sector in the UAE has recently been witnessing the term “affordable” being bandied about by real estate companies wishing to tap into the demand for reasonably priced residential products, and that this has perhaps created confusion over what exactly is affordable housing.

In a bid to help clarify the matter, he offers this profile of Danube’s target demographic: “Anyone earning $4,084 to $6,806 (AED15,000 to AED25,000) per month, has lived in the UAE for four to five years, has a little bit of savings, and has yet to purchase a property.

“But I’ve always maintained this: even Emirates Airline is affordable for its target customers, so Glitz is also affordable for its target end-users.”

Located in Dubai Studio City, Danube’s Glitz residences have a combined construction value of $89.5m (AED328.8m), with the main contracts awarded to Naresco Contracting, while EDMAC Engineering was brought on board as consultant for all three projects.

“The main contracts for Glitz Residence 1 and 2 were simultaneously awarded in July 2015, while the contract for Glitz Residence 3 was awarded in February 2016,” recalls Rahman.

Enabling works for Glitz 1 and 2 started in February 2015, with construction commencing six months later, in August. Meanwhile, excavation works for Glitz 3 commenced in September 2015, and construction works in March 2016.

Naresco, according to Rahman, expects to complete delivery of all three projects by the end of 2017 – an expectation that should easily be met, since Glitz 1 and 2 are complete.

“Handover of Glitz 1 has commenced and is progressing well,” he says. “The scheduled date of handover for Glitz 2 is 9 November, 2017, and we anticipate to complete Glitz 3 in Q4 2017, on time.”

Offering a mix of studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments, Glitz 1 and 2 each comprise 146 units, while Glitz 3 has 352 units. Each of the three buildings features a health club with a steam room and a sauna, a party hall that can also serve as a children’s play area, a rooftop swimming pool, and retail outlets on the ground floor.

Both Glitz 1 and 2 come with barbecue stations outside the party halls, as well as landscaped gardens on the podium levels that feature anti-skid teakwood granite, light fittings, and palm trees.

Glitz 3 offers more options when it comes to two- and three-bedroom apartments, Rahman notes, adding that every Glitz Residence project boasts tempered glass with lamination “for additional safety”.

Continuing on the topic of safety, he says that A2 grade, non-combustible aluminium composite panels (ACP) were used in the properties. “We’ve followed the revised fire and life safety code of the Dubai Civil Defence (DCD) to ensure that we are making the buildings not just attractive but fire-resistant as well.”

This year, Danube has more than $299.5m (AED1.1bn) worth of projects to be delivered, including more than 860 units, reveals Rahman, noting that all Glitz residences are sold out.

“We are a hard-core trading developer; we believe in selling,” he says. “So Glitz is all sold out, while 85% of our Bayz project has been snapped up. And we only have 18 units left in Glamz, and 16 in Resortz.”

Explaining the success that he says Danube Properties has been experiencing in Dubai’s property market, Rahman points out that the developer has established a reputation for completing projects on time and delivering more than what is expected.

“It’s that reputation and trust in us that we strive to maintain and reinforce. I always say this: it’s very easy to launch a project, but it’s the delivery that creates and builds reputation and credibility.”

Concluding, Rahman gamely answers a frequently raised question:  Why do the names of Danube projects all end in ‘z’?

“It’s just a coincidence. It so happened that the first three projects went with a ‘z’, and we just carried on with it,” he explains, joking: “We’ll continue with it until we run out of names that can end with ‘z’”.

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