Dubai's Marina 101: Property owners willing to spend 'few millions' to finish much-delayed skyscraper

Dubai: Property buyers in Marina 101, the much-delayed skyscraper project at Dubai Marina, are willing to put together a “few more millions” of theirs if it means construction can be completed and they finally get to move into their apartments.

Another Dh15 million to Dh20 million will be required to complete the 101-storey structure, according to some estimates. If no outside investor is willing to take on the project, the property owners say they are willing to do whatever’s possible to put together the sums needed.

These buyers now hope to present their situation to the newly created judicial entity in Dubai, set up to fast-track revival of shelved or delayed projects. The entity has been empowered to take speedy decisions on all such pending work and, most important, ensure that investors’ rights are taken care of.

Marina 101, which launched in 2005, was stuck at the “97.3 per cent” completion stage when construction stopped in 2019 over the developer’s debt issues. Lender banks then tried to revive the project and bring on a new developer-investor to take it to completion. In February this year, such a deal was close to being finalized, according to sources in the know.

But a group of property buyers say they have not been hearing anything on the project’s status. Many of them were issued with Oqood certificates by Dubai Land Department, and a few even moved furniture into their units… in anticipation that the remaining 2.7 per cent will be completed at the soonest. (Oqood relates to registration of offplan unit sales.)

So far, that’s not what’s happening on the ground.

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‘No word from anyone’

'Let's find a solution...' - Marina 101 apartment owners have waited quite a while in hopes of finally moving into their units. Now, a few millions is all that separates them from doing so. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Johan bought his unit in 2016, just when it seemed that the already much-delayed high-rise will soon see a completion date. He paid Dh1.06 million for what remains one of the most prestigious locations in the Dubai Marina enclave.

“The last update received from Land Department was on April 7,” said Johan. “They said that they are still in the collection stage [of the funds needed to finish] and that they were negotiating a loan with a few banks to finish.

“Now, the court case (involving the lender banks) has been resolved and it’s been decided that Marina 101 should be finished. The Land Department had asked investors who paid 80 per cent of the total property value to top up their payment to 90 per cent.

“I was told that the handover would most likely be in April 2021. Since then I have been going to Marina 101 almost every day to see how things are. I was very surprised to see no activity at the site. I have no idea when the handover will be - in the WhatsApp group featuring most of the buyers, nobody knows anything too.”

Towering glory
That's what the Marina 101 was at the time of its launch in 2005. The mixed-use high-rise would feature 101 levels plus six basements. The frame would soar to 371 metres and be one of the tallest in Dubai. Estimates about the cost of development are in the Dh700 million range, but some suggest it could have touched Dh1 billion.

Get it done

Fabrizio owns two units in the tower, for which he paid a combined Dh5.4 million. “It’s unbelievable that a residual investment of just Dh15 million is blocking a project, which would have cost about Dh1 billion to reach up to this stage,” he said.

“In my opinion, the Bank of Baroda, which is the largest creditor [to the developer], in co-operation with Land Department could easily finance the remaining Dh15 million and complete it. But we owners are suffering and we don’t know what’s happening.”

We want to be part of the solution - not part of the problem. If the Land Department has ideas, we can be an active part to help and solve the matter.

Fabrizio, one of the owners at Marina 101

Developer’s view

Marina 101 was to be the signature venture of Sheffield Real Estate and Abouali Shroff, its founder. At its launch, it proved one of the most successful in terms of offplan sales even at a time when Dubai’s freehold market had a fair share of these.

Shroff is now based in Surat, in the western Indian state of Gujarat. The talk in the market was that Marina 101 came to a halt because the developer’s debt exposure had shot past Dh400 million and the company was not able to keep up with the payment commitments.

Shroff disputes the “Dh400 million” part. “The original amount taken from the bank is Dh293 million,” he said. “I had sent them a legal notice, but since January 2020 they are not willing to talk to me as they say that their loan is settled and was not willing to disclose any details of a new investor to me.

“The Marina 101 was the second tallest building in the UAE at its launch - I would be more than willing to support any new investor-developer who can come to complete the project and give the units which many buyers have not registered in Qqood.

“My condition would be that they take over the project keeping all the obligations Sheffield had made to investors.”

For Marina 101 property owners, the only solution that matters is to see the remaining 2.7 per cent work on the tower done and delivered.

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