TDIC prepares to build homes in museum quarter of Saadiyat Island

Abu Dhabi's Tourism Development and Investment Company is planning to build low-rise beachfront apartment blocks in the museum quarter of Saadiyat Island. Moving-in date: unspecified.

A scale model of the Louvre Abu Dhabi at TDIC’s booth in Cityscape. Lee Hoagland / The National
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Tourism Development & Investment Company, the government-owned developer of cultural and residential projects in Abu Dhabi, is preparing to build its first homes in its multibillion-dirham museum quarter on Saadiyat Island.

With Abu Dhabi’s Louvre museum scheduled to open in 2015, followed by the Zayed National Museum in 2016 and the Guggenheim museum in 2017, and a luxury shopping mall set to be developed between them, master developer TDIC said it was pressing ahead with plans to build hundreds of homes in the area.

TDIC plans to build low-rise apartments blocks along a 1.5 kilometre beachfront close to the 550-store luxury mall it is jointly developing with L Real Estate, a property development and investment fund sponsored by Louis Vuitton.

A current model, exhibited by TDIC this week, shows 12 apartment blocks of two or three storeys stretching along the beach from the Guggenheim to the new Cranleigh school campus, which is due to open next year, and the Manarat Al Saadiyat exhibition space. However, TDIC said that these designs were likely to change over the coming weeks.

The master developer said it was finalising designs for the scheme and that it intended to produce the final designs before the end of the year. It also said it expected to be developing a first phase of about 200 flats early next year.

“Our concentration today is to finish the Cultural District and all our efforts are going in that area. Work is going on at the Louvre 24 hours a day now and our aim is to keep that place alive and open. You cannot just build the museums without putting anything around it. It would just be a deserted place. So we are completing the culture district master plan by bringing in the residential to complete the area,” said Ahmed Al Fahim, the executive director of marketing, communications, sales and leasing at TDIC.

Speaking to The National at the Cityscape Global exhibition in Dubai yesterday, TDIC, which is developing the entire 27 square kilometre island, said it was also looking to sell off packages of land in the neighbourhood to sub-developers to build housing, offices and schools.

By the end of this year, TDIC plans to start offering investors 12 plots of land between the road to Manarat Al Saadiyat and the main road through the island.

“Obviously there is demand and that is growing,” Mr Al Fahim said. “We are putting in the infrastructure, we are putting in the attractions so it’s a very promising opportunity.”

The news comes just days after the property broker Asteco reported that after years of declines, house prices in the capital have finally started to recover from the 2008 market crash. It said that Abu Dhabi house prices have risen by 14 to 26 per cent over the past year, helped by an influx of government employees relocating to the capital and improved investor sentiment.

Last month, TDIC put 70 apartments at its nearby Saadiyat Beach Residences scheme on the market for prices starting at Dh1.4 million. TDIC said it had sold 64 of the recently completed apartments and was considering whether to sell or lease out the final block.

Indications of an improvement in the Abu Dhabi market will come as a relief to government-owned TDIC, which has suffered years of deepening losses.

Last year TDIC announced a Dh2.1bn loss, almost double that of the previous year, prompting the company to offload three of its completed hotel resorts to its parent company, the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority. That came on top of losses of Dh368.6m in 2008, Dh551m in 2009 and Dh1.15bn in 2010.