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Work begins on $1bn ICD Brookfield Place tower in DIFC

The joint venture between Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD) and Brookfield Property Partners has broken ground on its US$1 billion development within Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) district.

The 54-storey, 282 metre-high ICD Brookfield Place, which has been designed by the British architects Foster + Partners, is the first major project to get under way at DIFC since the onset of the 2008 financial crisis.

It will contain more than 900,00 0 square feet of Grade A office space and connect to a 150,000 sq ft, five-storey retail centre. There will also be an 18,000 sq ft public area flanked by restaurants that will feature regular arts and cultural events, and the complex will have parking for 2,700 cars.

The top three floors of the tower are being built as Sky View suites with internal gardens and the project has been designed with a view to achieving Leed Gold certification, a top-level sustainability and green building rating.

The main contract to build ICD Brookfield Place has been awarded to a joint venture between Brookfield Multiplex and South Korea’s Ssangyong Engineering and Construction. The building is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2018, with the first tenants likely to occupy in early 2019.

The chief executive of ICD, Mohammed Al Shaibani, said the project “will be a world-class development that enriches its surrounding area and significantly adds to the Dubai skyline”. He added that it would look to develop the partnership through future projects.

The Brookfield Property Partners’ chairman, Ric Clark, said that it began working with ICD about five years ago, setting up a $1bn fund that was initially meant to invest in distressed schemes, but subsequently switched its focus towards new development.

Mr Clark said that it is in advanced talks with local and international banks over debt funding for the project.

“Our expectation is we will do conventional construction financing on this project somewhere in the 65 per cent or more loan-to-cost ratio. We should have that all secured within the next couple of months.”

He said that no tenancy deals had been agreed, but that talks were under way for “several hundreds of thousands” of square feet.

“We haven’t signed anybody up yet,” he said. “We’re confident that we will in relatively short order, but one of the things that we’ve found that is important in this region is that you actually get going on a project. I think tenants are naturally sceptical. They’ve heard too many organisations in the past try to convince them to sign a lease on a project that never gets built.”

JLL and CBRE have been appointed as joint letting agents for ICD Brookfield Place.

CBRE Middle East’s managing director, Nick McLean, said DIFC remained “the most important conceptual institution in the GCC as a whole”, with an advantage of scale over other regional financial centres in Bahrain, Riyadh or Abu Dhabi.

“People can come here and be associated and adjacent to the people they are adjacent to in London, New York and elsewhere.

“We have the most important institution and almost certainly what will be the best building in the region as well.”

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