The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) was never meant to be a residential hub, but as in other world cities, it is the residential and entertainment options that inject life into the area. “The central location of DIFC is superb and offers complete work, live, play lifestyle as a sophisticated and established community,” says Lucy Bush, director and head of residential sales and leasing at Cluttons, who has seen the district bloom into a community.
Indeed, DIFC has become a hotspot for activities, with sports and arts venues and various events being organised and hosted in the area. “There is a plethora of five-star restaurants and hotels all within walking distance, creating destination dining for residents,” Bush says.
One- and two-bedroom units are most in demand at Central Park Towers
While primarily catering to residents and workers within the district, DIFC’s amenities have attracted patrons from all over Dubai, says Nemo Stojanovic, head of leasing at Arady Developments, the developer of Central Park Towers. However, Sofia Underabi, partner and head of residential valuations at Cavendish Maxwell, doesn’t see the district developing into a residential hub. Instead, she points out DIFC’s popularity as an entertainment hub, while the limited number of residential options within the district has added to it’s exclusivity.
“DIFC is popular with professionals with a preference to live and work in the same central hub, which caters for all needed amenities, including retail and commercial,” says Underabi, noting that its proximity to Downtown Dubai has added to its attraction and convenience.
The community also seems to attract a particular demographic. According to Bush, most of Cluttons’ clients there are single executives, couples hunting smaller units or small families that are starting out or empty nesting. “They mostly work in DIFC. The convenience of walking to work or having a base in DIFC is clearly understood with many residents enjoying car-less living,” she explains.
In the residential tower of the Central Park Towers complex, the demand was greatest for one- and two-bedroom units, according to Stojanovic. “Although there are families in the building, the majority of the residents are professionals who value the central location and superior amenities,” he explains.
The Central Park Towers complex is the newest option on the block. “Central Park Residential Tower is one of the few dedicated towers for residential use in DIFC, offering luxury living space of contemporary design, high-standard finishes and awe-inspiring panoramic views of Dubai,” says Stojanovic.
The second tower is dedicated to offices. Most residential options in DIFC also have offices, bar Limestone House and Sky Gardens, which are purely residential.
Rents in the area start at around Dh63,000 for a studio. The average rent is around Dh75,000, and prices can go up to at least Dh195,000 or an average price of Dh270,000 for a four-bedroom penthouse. For those looking for more exclusivity, there are the serviced residences at Ritz Carlton, but expect steeper pricing of Dh280,000 for a two-bedroom unit, compared with the Dh225,000 average in the area. “Most of the residential apartments are considered high end and the finishing, as well as the architectural designs, are some of the best in Dubai,” enthuses Bush.
Buildings such as Limestone House, Ritz Carlton and The Gate Building have become icons in the Dubai skyline. Limestone House and the Ritz Carlton come in New York stone styling, while Index Tower, Liberty House, Burj Daman and Sky Gardens come in a sleek glass-and-stone look.
Damac went for an all-glass façade for its Park Towers, not to be confused with the Central Park Towers by Arady, which has a rather elegant and sharper design.
While not residential, ICD Brookfield Place by Fosters and Partners will open later this year and is likely to become another favourite destination. “It will offer 18,000 sq ft of public space designed for cultural activities and public art and performances, as well as further grade A office space,” says Bush.
The under-construction Gate Avenue would also further enhance the appeal of the scheme, offering two levels of interconnected shopping space, an open-air pedestrian esplanade and a fully air-conditioned concourse. “As per current market intelligence, there are no planned under-construction residential projects in the region that we are aware of,” says Bush.
DIFC has seen a general decline in rents, although the rate of decline is less than the overall market. “The increased supply of new developments in surrounding areas, such as City Walk and Downtown, has hindered both prices and rents achievable in DIFC,” says Underabi.
Bush concurs that rents have held up quite well, but would not be immune to the corrections seen across Dubai. “There is a good level of rental supply available at the moment, which could indicate an adjustment ahead,” she says. “Developments such as the prestigious World Trade Centre Residence are now becoming accessible at more affordable rental rates, and we currently are marketing a one-bedroom apartment for Dh90,000 per year.”