Shapoorji Pallonji set for expansion outside India in Dubai

The Mumbai-based real estate company is looking to build a portfolio in Dubai while seeking out opportunities in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain

Renderings of the Imperial Avenue project by Shapoorji Pallonji Real Estate. Courtesy Shapoorji Pallonji Real Estate
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Shapoorji Pallonji Real Estate is planning to develop about 5 million square feet of property in Dubai as part of its first wave of expansion outside of India.

The Mumbai-based company has begun piling works on the US$350 million, 45-storey Imperial Avenue residential tower in Business Bay but the development director, Jacob Joby, said that it is in talks with master developers with a view to creating joint ventures to build more schemes.

“We are looking at a target of at least 5 million sq ft. We can showcase at least five-to-six towers. That gives us the portfolio to take it across the rest of the region,” he said.

Mr Joby said that the company has already held negotiations with three major developers of masterplanned communities in Dubai with a view to forming joint ventures.

“At an appropriate time there will be an announcement of a strategic relationship. We are evaluating the best opportunities,” he said.

He said that it will probably work with more than one developer and seek sites in prime locations. “This [Business Bay] is a strategic location that Dubai has created. The Palm is another one. The Dubai Canal could be interesting for us,” he said.

The company unveiled Imperial Avenue as its first project outside India at the Cityscape Global event in September. Sales of the 424 apartment units began last month, starting from Dh1.47m for a one-bedroom apartment to Dh11.5m for a five-bedroom penthouse. There are also six “podium-villas” at the top of the building, a 26th-floor podium level with a rooftop infinity pool and sixth- and ninth-floor podium levels with a community pool and children’s play areas. The building also contains a private cinema, and five floors of parking.

Mr Joby said that the development has been aimed at owner-occupiers, with floorplates that are typically 20 per cent bigger than average and sustainability measures such as grey water usage and solar water heating intended to drive down service charges.

The company is the property development arm of a much larger, construction-focused conglomerate, which has had a presence in the Middle East since 1971. Its first job was in Oman building a palace for Sultan Qaboos but it has worked in Dubai since 1974 and built structures such as Damac’s Park Towers in DIFC and the new Landmark Group headquarters in Dubai Marina. It is also building tower projects in Riyadh and Dammam.

Richard Paul, the head of residential valuations at Cluttons in Dubai, urged a note of caution that “certain types of accommodation” would outperform others. “It’s difficult to put the whole residential in one sentence and say ‘it’s coming back’. Then everyone assumes the whole market is coming back,” he said.

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