Case Study: Tunis Sports City

Reshaping lives, landscape and local customs

Tunis Sports City aims to house 30,000 people and is expected to cost approximately US$ 5 billion.
Tunis Sports City aims to house 30,000 people and is expected to cost approximately US$ 5 billion.

To be located in the heart of the Lac de Tunis district of the capital city, Tunis Sports City (TSC) is poised to become Tunisia’s first state-of-the-art mixed-use development.

Boasting a 256-hectare site, the 6.5 billion dinar (US$ 5 billion) TSC is the product of a partnership between the UAE’s Bukhatir Group—and its subsidiary company Sports Cities International LLC (SCI)—and the Tunisian government and was designed by famed Swiss golf course architect Peter Harradine.

The 30,000-resident Sports City project is distinguished by its thoughtful design and its attempt to integrate athletics into the larger urban fabric of the growing Tunisian capital.

“[SCI] is delighted to enter this exciting new market,” said Abdul Rahman Bukhatir, chairman of the Bukhatir Group. “We are very grateful to the Tunisian government for their confidence in us. We are grateful for them lending their support and enabling our vision for Tunisia.”

Having built the first of its Sports City projects in Morocco in 1998 and since moving on to projects in Dubai and Lahore, Pakistan, TSC will be the fourth SCI development in a portfolio and project typology that looks to be championing the cause of the Bukhatir Group for the future.

“Tunis Sports City, with its environmentally conscious design, innovation and architecture will surely set a benchmark in the region,” said Paul Crosetta, CEO International of SCI, at TSC project launch in Dubai. “Once fully developed, TSC will become the new address for healthy living in Tunis by local Tunisians, Algerians, Libyans and expatriates alike.”

One of the pillars on which the success of SCI rests is technology and as such, the development will see an inventive master plan that will incorporate a residential district with an 18-hole golf course, 49 luxury mansions, two residential towns, 10 high-rise buildings, nine sports academies, a 10,000-seat outdoor stadium, a 5,000-seat indoor stadium and at least one Olympic-sized swimming pool.

Phase 1 development
The first phase of TSC launched in Tunis on 10 July with the introduction of ‘Cedar’, a 13-hectare residential golfing community. Consisting of eight high-rise apartment buildings, 73 villas and four blocks of low-rise residences, apart from the crown jewel Peter Harradine-designed golf course, Cedar’s key residential project is the 310,000ft² Burj Alamasa.

According to Crosetta, the G+15 residential building received more than 90% active bookings within the first week of its launch in Tunis. Crosetta also specified that the overwhelming majority of bookings have come from Algerian, Tunisian and Libyan nationals but that the properties in TSC would be offered as 100% freehold property for interested expats.

Once the project is complete in 2025, TSC will boast the largest retail shopping centre in North Africa, extensive outdoor social space and groundbreaking hospitality and medical facilities but, for the time being, any retail space included will be just enough to support Phase 1 residents.

While all of the Phase 1 buildings promise eco-friendliness in accordance with international architecture standards, how that translates into actual figures has yet to be determined.

“We’ve been working with the Tunisian government to meet the highest standards of environmental friendliness,” explains Victor Shenoda, general manager of design and urban planning for SCI. “We’ll definitely go with LEED but whether that means LEED Platinum of Gold or Silver has not been decided for Cedar. Right now, we’re just focusing on minimising energy consumption as effectively as possible.”

What the future holds
While the massive mixed-use typology has become the norm in several Middle Eastern countries, TSC is breaking the mould in Tunisia—and with the role of trailblazer comes challenges.

“This is a new concept in Tunisia,” explains Crosetta. “We’ve been working with the public and private sectors on different things. It has been difficult but now we’ve got banks partnering with us to provide financing to investors—which is rare.”

Offering fully freehold properties construction of TSC will commence in Q4 2009, with the first of the residential towers to be completed by 2012. The signature 18-hole golf course, which is currently being graded, will be built simultaneously and should begin taking tee times around the 2012 date as well.

Despite questions about the feasibility of investing in a project of this size during these financial times, the Bukhatir Group is unfazed. Citing a report from the IMF regarding the best and most stable places to invest in 2009, SCI staff are quick to point out Tunisia’s #2 ranking.

“This is definitely a great time to invest in North Africa,” says Bukhatir. “The region has remained unaffected by the global crisis and continues to prosper, particularly in the areas of tourism and real estate.”

Not only are Bukhatir Group and SCI confident about building their fourth Sports City in Tunisia, they are strongly considering other locations for their fifth.

“We’re looking to role out the model of TSC in other countries in Africa and Southeast Asia,” explains Crosetta. In fact, according to corporate literature distributed at the launch, SCI is considering Sri Lanka, South Africa, Morocco, India and Vietnam as potential candidate cities for its next development.

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