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CITIES WITHIN CITIES

Sharjah 2016 | CONSTRUCTION & REAL ESTATE | FOCUS: MIXED-USE DEVELOPMENTS

Sharjah's real estate sector is undergoing important transformations, with the government and developers focusing on megaprojects to attract investors. For this purpose, mixed-use developments are increasingly preferred to purely residential or commercial developments.

Sharjah has witnessed a boom in real estate and construction, with the sector being a main driver of growth for the northern Emirate, fueled by a cheaper real estate environment while enjoying efficient infrastructure and a business-friendly environment.

One distinguishing feature of the sector is the growing popularity of mega mixed-use urban developments that combine residential, commercial, cultural, and industrial buildings; “cities within a city." Sharjah's authorities are working with developers to launch a number of mixed-use developments, which are increasingly favored over purely residential developments due to the value-added for inhabitants and investors.

Mixed-use developments offer a “live, work, and play" environment and a more holistic culture of accommodation and elegant design, while also creating a strong neighborly character and sense of place. They allow for greater variety of housing with different degrees of affordability, meeting the needs of buyers and investors with different budgets. Another benefit is the proximity to shops, workplaces, and amenities, as distances can conveniently be traveled on foot and by bicycle. Lastly, mixed-use developments utilize the city's infrastructure more efficiently, as opposed to purely residential or commercial developments, where infrastructure can be greatly underutilized.

One of the best examples of a community within the city is Tilal City, an AED2 billion project developed by Tilal Properties, a joint venture between the government's Sharjah Asset Management and Eskan Real Estate Developments. The project, still under development, extends over 25 million sqft and, once ready, will be home to 65,000 residents. Khalifa Al Shaibani, Chairman of Tilal Properties, said the idea is to create high-quality, sustainable mixed-use neighborhoods in Sharjah offering a better quality of life for residents and visitors. In line with the government's desire to make Sharjah an aesthetically beautiful and harmonious city, it reserved half of the development for public services like green spaces for the public and not just for private residents, so that the complex blends in with the rest of the city. “This is unprecedented here in Sharjah, where no project goes past 20% in that respect," he added. Haysam Jazairi, business development executive director at Tilal, told TBY, “We are proud to be leading the way in changing the real estate game in Sharjah." Investors from more than 25 countries have already bought land plots in Tilal City.

Tilal City is not the only mixed-use development on Sharjah's real estate scene. Launched last year, Al Zahia's gated community aspires to create an integrated community spanning over 1.5 million sqft and when complete will host 12,000 Arab residents.

The government's agenda also includes the 36km coastline Sharjah Waterfront City. The first phase of the project, budgeted at AED9.5 billion, is expected to be ready in 2018. Apart from a business center, the Waterfront City will consist of 24 mixed-use towers as well as a shopping mall and hospitality and tourism facilities.

A similar project is the AED700 million Al Rayyan, comprised of two residential towers, a commercial tower, and a retail complex. Originally launched in 2007, it was re-launched last year by JMS Property Developers. Lastly, joining Sharjah's list of mixed-use developments is Sharjah Investment Center. The development, extending over 32 million sqft, is a large, self-contained community that includes a business park, industrial and logistics parks, and staff accommodation areas. The project has already sold 80% of the plots allocated to the first two phases of the project.

In all instances, the projects' success in attracting investors' interest justifies the government and the developers' increasing preference for big-ticket mixed-use projects, which have become a key component in the rapidly transforming landscape of Sharjah's real estate sector.


 

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