BEIRUT: Entrepreneurs, businessmen and corporations seeking to open offices in Lebanon will have another alternative to Beirut’s central district in a few years.
The Waterfront City project, located on the coastal highway some 15 kilometers northeast of the capital, will comprise the first business park of its kind in Lebanon with approximately 60,000 square meters of office space.
“The business park project is not aimed at competing with Beirut’s central district but rather at making up for the lack of an integrated offering outside the capital,” Samer Bissat, senior project director at Majid Al Futtaim Properties, told The Daily Star.
A joint venture between Dubai-based Majid Al Futtaim Properties and Lebanese contractor Joseph Khoury Holding, Waterfront City will also include residential apartments, international-brand hotels, shopping malls and diverse community amenities.
After successfully selling a large number of residential units, the business park has also attracted 450 buyers for office space so far, according to Bissat.
Based on the absorption rate, Bissat expects the business park project to be completed within a four- to five-year period.
The high number of presale agreements for office space helped self-finance the project, Walid Raphael, general manager of Banque Libano-Francaise, told The Daily Star. BLF is providing subsidized loans for both residential units and office space in partnership with Waterfront City, Raphael said.
The majority of clients are Lebanese residents and expatriates, he added.
Though the percentage of buyers seeking loans remains relatively low, Raphael expects the number to surge as the project advances.
“At this stage, most buyers can afford the minimum down payment. However, the percentage of clients seeking loans will rise as the project progresses,” he said.
The office space sold so far amounts to one building out of the 12 in the business park, Bissat said.
The 12 buildings are organized around a series of open spaces in a campus-style setting and will be within walking distance of two luxury hotels and the Waterfront City Center Mall, according to a brochure released at Monday’s launch event.
The project’s launch event featured a panel discussion including Bissat and Raphael alongside leading industrialist and head of Malia Group Jacques Sarraf as well as Zimco Group General Manager Fouad Zmokhol.
The event was held at Le Royal hotel in Dbayyeh overlooking the 193,600-square meter Waterfront City project.
Waterfront City, a nearly $2 billion investment that will be completed in four phases over the next 13 years, is part of 1,000,000 square meters of Joseph Khoury’s reclaimed land and includes a marina to accommodate yachts and small- to medium-sized boats.