Onyx Development resumes fast pace for Q4 2015 completion

Posted on 10th July 2014

The Onyx-a  mixed use project valued at over DH 1.2 billion comprising a cluster of three towers on a podium, adjacent to Emaar Business Park on Shaikh Zayed Road including  two office towers and a business hotel, is back on track, achieving milestones toward a targeted project completion of Q4 2015, according to Ishraqah for Development, the project promoter.

Onyx

The project went through an extremely testing phase through the downturn, and construction activity had to be wound down after the piling stage. (Just before the crisis hit, units at the Onyx was being quoted at Dh2,000 a square foot and upwards in the secondary market. The launch price was in Dh1,600-1,700 a square foot range.) But once Dubai’s property market showed signs of revival by 2012, the promoters of the Onyx did not waste much time. “The main resource we tapped to put the project back on track (by mid 2013) was shareholder funds,” said Ishraqah’s CEO, Ammar Sweis. “The shareholders put in 30 per cent plus of the project value.

“We also went in for an extensive redesign to cut costs where we could. We redefined the retail properties in the podium and also cut down on the number of parking spaces. (The earlier plan was to have an extensive parking facility which could be leased out.)” It was also decided to get proactive with the construction schedule once the project was revived. “We did not want to commit to a large construction contract in one go,” said Sweiss. “Thus, the first one was awarded on a basement to ground floor basis because with the podium it was quite complex, and once that was done the rest was awarded.”

Currently, the developer is committing monthly payments of Dh 20 million and more to the contractor (Al Shafar) to maintain the “aggressive” project milestones. “There have been additional injections of funds from shareholders plus payments have started to come from the 70 per cent of investors who stayed committed to the project. Some of the units were mortgaged by DIB and others and payments are coming from them. “There are negotiations regarding the status of the other investors. On the whole, we are comfortable with the cash flow position.”

Two of the three towers are dedicated to offices. (But the developer has sought approval to create a residential component on the upper floors). Given its location on Shaikh Zayed Road, expectations are high that leasing interest — once the process starts — among corporate tenants would be high.The third tower will be for a four-star hotel with 210 rooms. The hotel was acquired by a high net worth investor before the crisis of 2009 and has stayed on with the project since. On when the developer plans to launch the unsold office units, Sweiss said: “I think we have a lot of time to get to that; most likely it will be in the fourth quarter of 2015.”

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