Imkan starts The Artery at Makers’ District on Reem Island

Walid El-Hindi says plans for other Makers' Districts are being brought forward for Rabat, Cairo, Sao Paolo and Montenegro.

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The development company set up to deliver the Dh12 billion Makers’ District, planned for Abu Dhabi’s Reem Island, has said The Artery structure being built to kick-start the project could be replicated at proposed sister sites in Egypt, Morocco, Montenegro and Brazil.

Walid El Hindi, the managing director of the Abu Dhabi Capital Group-owned developer Imkan, described the Dh100 million structure unveiled at last week’s Cityscape Abu Dhabi as “like the seed for creating the project’s soul”, which is a rather grand way of describing a structure that has been designed, at least in part, as one of the district’s car parks.

The seven-storey, domed structure has a central atrium that will serve as a performance space. Around the outside are two interlocking ramps scaling the entire height of the building.

One of these will be used for car parking for the first phase of the Makers’ District, but the other will be filled with creative spaces and workshops for use by local artists and craftspeople.

“It’s a brilliant idea,” said Mr El Hindi, who joined Abu Dhabi Capital Group two years ago following his resignation as chief development officer of Emaar Misr shortly after its flotation.

“The brief was very difficult,” he said. “We want a parking structure but at the same time we wanted an events space. The two spirals going up – just like the DNA spirals that are intertwined but never meet – that’s the concept. You have one spiral for artists and one spiral for cars.”

Work will begin on the project within five months, coinciding with the construction of 12 other buildings making up phase one of Makers’ District, including apartments and office space – all of which are due for completion by 2020.

Over the project’s entire lifespan, more than 4,000 homes and 100,000 square metres of office space will be built, alongside food & beverage units, an “art hotel” and a small marina.

Mr El Hindi said about two years’ worth of research has gone into the Makers’ District concept, which is targeted at millennials. Office space will be geared towards smaller, creative companies and apartment units to younger buyers, including families.

Abu Dhabi is the first Makers’ District that will be brought to market and Mr El Hindi said despite the Emirate’s focus on culture through developments such as the Louvre, he believes there is a gap in terms of spaces for those looking to create art, rather than display it.

“We identified the gap and we identified it in different places in the world,” he said. “We’re already working on a Makers’ District in Rabat, Morocco. We’re working on the Makers’ District in Cairo, Sao Paulo, Montenegro … We’re really taking this concept worldwide and we want to connect all of these districts.”

He said each of these could be kick-started by a development similar to The Artery.

“The Artery is a brand right now. Maybe there will be an Artery in each one, but there will definitely be the ‘seed’ in each of those projects.”

According to the property consultancy Cavendish Maxwell, apartment prices on Reem Island remained flat in the first quarter of 2017 and are only 1 per cent lower year-on-year.

However, more new apartments are planned for Reem Island by the end of 2020 than any other investment zone in the city. Of the 35,000 apartments set for delivery from 2017-2020, 8,200 are due to be built at Reem Island.

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