Now that the bricks and mortar are in place, the developer of the upscale Al Barari residential community is turning its attention to adding to its greening.
"We are now in the preparation stages of Phase 2 which will see the completion of the botanical gardens," said CEO Mohammad Zaal. "The fact that 80 per cent of Al Barari is made up of green space is what makes it the lowest-density development in the UAE."
The developer is also moving in the direction of value addition that will find favour with the community's resident base. It is rolling out Greenworks, to be the region's largest privately-owned nursery covering 18 hectares and housing 1,800 plant varieties.
Besides offering landscaping services in Al Barari, Greenworks will also seed the local market with green products and services.
Then there will be The Farm, conceived as a destination for organic dining set some distance from the city. A gourmet coffee shop and restaurant rolled into one, it will feel at home within the botanical gardens at Al Barari.
Once the rollout of the two ventures is completed, the developer intends to get into the business end of the Phase 2 development works.
But the developer does not plan on adding much more to the existing housing stock.
"We are currently in the preparation stages of Phase 2; however we do not intend to develop any additional land on the Al Barari estate for housing outside of our original Phase 1 and 2 plans for now," Zaal said. "We are very excited about seeing our plans for Phase 2 come to fruition."
This phase will also encompass a boutique hotel as well as the commercial and retail elements that a self-sustaining community would need.
Phase 1 features 189 super-premium villas, of which 95 per cent have been sold and some retained by the developer for the rental market. (According to a consultant at Better Homes, "There are a couple of units that do come on the market on completion and units are available for lease.")
More than 170 families make up the resident base with nearly 90 per cent of the homes occupied by the owners. That's as good a vote of confidence as it gets for any development.
This "gives Al Barari a genuine sense of community, and we are delighted that many residents are already coming together to participate in the community events that take place within the development", Zaal said.
"Phase I was completed fully and we are proud of the fact that we did not have to omit anything from our original plans as a result of the downturn." But with the residential sales component more or less done, how will the developer go about creating new revenue-generating channels for itself?
"We did not approach the plans for Al Barari as many other developers; forming a commercial enterprise was not the ultimate goal," Zaal said.
"We wanted to give others the opportunity to experience and own a part of the desert haven we had created.
"The subsequent plans then grew organically and allowed the development to become the luxury eco-conscious estate it is today."
Board to be elected
The registration of the Al Barari properties is being done with the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera) and the Department of Economic Development prior to calling the first general assembly of the property owners.
This assembly will be tasked with electing an owners' association board. A dedicated community manager has been brought in to oversee the process on behalf of the developer.
"The community budget for 2012 is currently awaiting Rera approval — once this is given, the decision will be made by the soon-to-be-formed owners' association regarding the service charges," said CEO Mohammad Zaal.
"Most [of the] maintenance requirements are overseen and taken care of by specialised companies that have been carefully selected by Al Barari to ensure residents can enjoy this unique lifestyle throughout all seasons." Is the developer ready to look at creating something outside Al Barari? "At present, all our efforts are focused on the Al Barari development in Nad Al Sheba," Zaal said. "The swift sales of the villas demonstrated that the desire to live in an eco-conscious luxury development is becoming increasingly popular."