La Fontana in Dubai is finally done

The first project in Arjan, the Dubailand development planned to include Dubai's version of the London Eye, is ready for handover after delays getting power to the building.

The La Fontana project in Arjan in Dubai. Satish Kumar / The National
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After a lengthy dispute over electrical hook-ups, the first project is ready for handover in Arjan, the Dh20 billion (US$5.44bn) development planned to include Dubai's version of the London Eye.

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Construction on La Fontana di Trevi, an Dh80 million residential development with 122 apartments, was started in 2008. But a Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) substation planned for Arjan was never built, leaving the developer, Triveni Builders and Promoters, to scramble to provide power to the project.

The company refunded the deposits of 23 of the original 102 buyers when it became clear power would not be provided on schedule, said Ashok Galgotia, Triveni's chief executive.

"It was a nightmare," Mr Galgotia said. "I don't think I slept very well for two years."

Triveni eventually spent an extra Dh500,000 to run power cables 5km from the Dewa substation in the nearby DuBiotech development.

Primary construction on the project, which is located across from the Dubai Cricket Stadium off Emirates Road, was completed in June. But the power was not connected until last month, Mr Galgotia said.

A spokesman for Dubai Properties Group (DPG), the master developer of Arjan, said power in the development was being provided "in line with the completion schedules … received from investors".

"Infrastructure obligations, therefore, are being met - in line with the various sales and purchase agreements and in line with the investor's construction progress," he said.

Delays establishing infrastructure and electrical hook-ups have been an issue for developments around the UAE. Several projects in Dubai's Business Bay were built and running on generators before the power was connected.

On Reem Island in Abu Dhabi, the handover of several towers in the Marina Square development was delayed for months while the developers waited for power connections.

"It is having a big impact on the industry," said Craig Plumb, the head of research for Jones Lang LaSalle. "There are completed buildings in Business Bay finding it difficult to attract tenants because of issues with power and roads."

Many of the initial projects in Dubailand, billed as "the world's most ambitious tourism, leisure and entertainment project", have been hit by infrastructure delays. Plans call for a variety of theme parks, as well as hotel complexes and the world's largest shopping mall.

But many of the first developments to complete in the area are relatively isolated, with little landscaping and few facilities in place.

"Certainly this is going to be an ongoing issue for developers in these areas," said Matthew Green, the head of research at CB Richard Ellis. "Once they get critical mass and a few more buildings handed over, things will improve."

Arjan, one of the Dubailand's sub-developments, is designed to include office, retail and hotel space in addition to enough apartments to house 67,000 residents. The project's plan includes an amphitheatre as well as the "Great Dubai Wheel", a giant Ferris wheel designed to "add a unique landmark to the Dubai skyline, enhancing the Dubailand experience", according to the original promotional materials.

A DPG spokesman declined to directly address the status of the giant wheel and the other entertainment elements of Arjan.

"Many investor projects in Dubailand are proceeding; others will be delivered by the different investors in line with the market demand," he said.

Damac Properties, Diamond Developers and ACW Holdings are also moving forward with projects in Arjan. ACW finished primary construction work last month on an 11-storey commercial tower, The Light.

La Fontana, Mr Galgotia's first property project in Dubai, is scheduled to begin handing over apartments in the next few weeks.

In the wake of the delays and falling values in parts of Dubai, which made it impossible to arrange financing, Mr Galgotia said he had to sell a family property in India to finance construction. Last year, in an effort to sell returned apartments, he advertised two-bedroom apartments originally priced at Dh1.2m for sale at Dh599,000.

"We were committed," he said. "We had to make ends meet."

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