Having secured its credentials as a developer of upscale high-rise blocks, Abu Dhabi's Tamouh is setting its sights slightly lower… literally.
Some time early next year, the company expects to have the approved blueprint in place to create an affordable — or social — housing project on Al Reem Island.
Tamouh's involvement in the initiative — which is mandated by Abu Dhabi's Urban Planning Council — would create 5,000 to 7,000 housing units in the initial phase.
As per the UPC requirements, Abu Dhabi's other heavyweight developers would have to come up with their own programmes in the affordable housing space.
Article continues below
It also underscores the Abu Dhabi authorities' emphasis on a twin-track development initiative that would create future housing capacity for residents across all income categories.
"We have already allotted plots, submitted detailed construction designs for our affordable houses," said Joe Ong, managing director.
"The nature of the development is such we will have to work closely with the government on this. For instance, while we would like to sell the units, the market sentiment is low and that's why it would be better if we have the support of the government agencies."
On whether Al Reem Island — known more for its swanky high-rises — was the only option to locate the affordable housing, Ong said: "There are no more open spaces available on the main island and none between the central business districts. At the same time, it does not make sense to develop an affordable housing programme too far away from the city either, at least in the short term."
"The need is for a more central location to meet the housing needs of the thousands of staff that will be created through the new hospitals, the schools and the financial district on Sowwah Island. There's no way all of them can be accommodated on the main island," he said.
"That leaves Al Reem Island where we already have an infrastructure that will not just meet the needs of the present but even ten years from now. Even more I will say."
For sure, two more bridges will now head into Al Reem Island — whose overall development is helmed by Sourouh, Reem Investments and Tamouh — from the mainland through Sowwah. Four bridges are already connected.
While the launch of the social housing project is in the near future, Tamouh has lots going on even now. The handover of the 14 high-rises making up the Marina Square on Al Reem Island is progressing well.
"Six are complete and handed over; we have over 100 families who have moved in and expect another 100 to do so in the coming weeks," said Ong.
"Eventually we are looking at around 3,500 families in the 14 towers. We are not only the developer but the master community manager as well. While there is a facilities management company that residents can deal with, it's not possible to right away hand over everything and say it's their responsibility," he said.
"Property owners need time to start talking to the new company. Until a year or two from now and they are finally happy with everything, this situation will continue. In the first year, they will spell Tamouh even in their dreams. That's normal and we are prepared for that."
While Tamouh is the developer, the high-rises are owned by institutional clients, mostly from the financial services industry, who did the actual selling of the apartments.
While Marina Square enters the home stretch, Tamouh has a similar development in the form of the 11-high-rise City of Light cluster, again on Al Reem Island.
"We are committed to making the deliveries from late 2013 through the early part of 2014," Ong said.
A perfect suburb
Nothing completes a residential community than having shops around. And even a cinema.
Tamouh will be delivering just that at Marina Square through a dedicated mall which will have 35,000 square feet of gross leasable area. Geant has signed up to be the supermarket operator at the facility, which will also have six cinemas.
"The mall opening is likely by June next," said John Ong, Tamouh's managing director. "The leasing progamme has started and we are looking at the proposals."
Tamouh's subsidiary Paragon is doing the leasing and will be responsible for the management of the mall once it opens.