“At Creek Marina, residents, upon entering the compound (via automated car entry system), will step into world-class hotel-style lobbies at every tower block (with concierge/laundry services and a dedicated security desk). Through card key access, residents will be able to step into one of two private lifts (separate lifts available for servants and cargo) that will open directly inside the individual apartment,” says Omar Shahzad, Director of the Creek Marina project, as he talks to Blue Chip about the 6-star residential development, the first-of-its-kind for Pakistan, which promises to provide residents with world class facilities and service. Presently under construction in Karachi’s poshest neighborhood, the Creek Marina is incorporating top-of-the-line fittings and promising an impeccable finish to provide its prospective residents with an unparalleled experience in high-end community living
Creek Marina is a unique project in Pakistan in terms of luxury and quality standards. How did this project come about?
Omar Shahzad: “Creek Marina was conceived to offer, for the first time in Pakistan, an international standard 6-star residential living catering to the urbanised and successful local community as well as overseas Pakistanis who want an unrivalled luxury lifestyle that is at par or even better than the most iconic residences found anywhere in the world including cosmopolitan cities such as New York, London or Singapore.
Creek Marina delivers all this and more – led by a world-renowned team of architects, engineers and project managers – Creek Marina exceeds the highest standards of spatial planning (our apartments are comparable to the covered areas found in large bungalows), premium finishes (imported from around the world) and world-class facilities and amenities. The project carries strong support and endorsement from DHA, which is one of the leading development authorities for residential projects in Pakistan. The success of Creek Marina has and will spur other prominent projects in DHA. Creek Marina is all the more unique in a city and country where the existing supply is predominantly 15-20 years old and in a fairly run-down condition.”
What are your views on Pakistan as an investment destination in terms of real estate?
OS: “With the onset of the global credit crisis in 2008, real estate markets internationally have faced some very challenging times but recently we have seen early signs of a recovery, particularly in key Asian markets such as Hong Kong and Singapore. The real estate sector in Pakistan has also been severely affected by the global economic slowdown (particularly the fallout in Dubai) as well as other issues such as law and order problems; macro-economic instability manifesting in significant cost escalation driven by, in part, a volatile Rupee exchange rate. These factors have deterred many investors, especially foreign companies and forced many real estate developers to pull the plug on high-profile projects in Karachi and elsewhere in the country.
However, we at Creek Marina are sanguine about real estate prospects in Karachi in 2010 and remain steadfast in our commitment to the project. We think there is a significant opportunity available within the top-tier segment of the market which has not been addressed prior to Creek Marina.”
From an investment perspective, can you elaborate on how Creek Marina properties are a valuable asset for both resident and non-resident Pakistanis?
OS: “The investment thesis for Creek Marina is genuinely long and compelling. However, I will focus my response to just a few points:
First, there is a scarcity value to the project. Creek Marina is the first and only 6-star residential project in Karachi and there is no other similar project likely to be launched in the foreseeable future. Creek Marina is an attractive proposition for non-resident Pakistanis from a safety and easy up-keeping point of view.
The project sits on an outstanding location – all apartments have unobstructed views of the ocean and neighboring golf course yet Creek Marina is only 15 minutes away from the city centre. All over the world, there is significant investor interest in purchasing sea facing properties especially those in large cosmopolitan cities. Additionally, key infrastructure facilities such as international roads and provision of utilities have already been set up.
Globally, rental and sale markets for apartments are always more liquid and therefore generate better returns than bungalows given that the finish and layout are standardised. The progressive payment schemes available for apartments at booking stage provides customers with financing schemes which are typically not easily available for landed properties.
Finally, since the luxury apartment segment is in the early stages of growth, we believe there is a significant investment upside potential for Creek Marina apartments in the near term. Luxury apartments in Karachi are significantly under-priced compared to regional peers in the Indian subcontinent and Middle East despite the considerable market correction that has taken place in such cities.”
Creek Marina promises to offer unparalleled quality and facilities. Given the volatile situation in the city, what security features does Creek Marina offer?
OS: “We have made elaborate arrangements at Creek Marina to ensure the highest level of security to our future residents. Key features include: gated residences with 24-hour security and electronic surveillance system throughout the compound; automated car entry system for residents; digital card key access system to apartments, motion detectors in every private lift lobby for intruder alert and panic buttons at key points inside every apartment, amongst others.”
OS: “The quality of the finishing and fittings used in Creek Marina are truly impeccable as showcased by our model apartment. Nearly 100% of the fittings used have been sourced from abroad after undergoing a thorough review process. This should come as no surprise, as Creek Marina engaged the world renowned Hirsh Bedner Associates (HBA), as the interior designers for the project. HBA is the world leader in hospitality interior design associated with some of the world’s leading hotels such as Ritz Carlton, St Regis, Intercontinental and Hyatt Regency.
To ensure quality assurance, Creek Marina has employed the services of several expatriates to ensure that construction quality is of the highest standards.”
A unique feature of the Creek Marina project is the state-of-the-art fittings used in the development. Can you tell us about these?
Creek Marina is described as a 6-star residential development. What are the outstanding features of a 6-star property?
OS: “A 6-star property is not just about having space and top-of-the-line fixtures and finishing. It is also about creating a mesmerising experience with attention to minute details.
At Creek Marina, residents upon entering the compound (via automated car entry system) will step into world-class hotel-style lobbies at every tower block (with concierge/laundry services and a dedicated security desk). Through card key access, residents will be able to step into one of two private lifts (separate lifts available for servants and cargo) that will open directly inside the individual apartment. The norm for high-end apartments is one private lift. Our penthouses personify the epitome of 6-star luxury. Each of our penthouses comes with a Jacuzzi, private swimming pool and additional balcony areas. Creek Marina offers an extensive range of facilities in addition to several function halls to serve various social occasions. Creek Marina creates an oasis for the distinguished who want an exclusive and high-end community living.”
What has the response been so far?
OS: “A majority of our apartments were snapped up during the initial launch of the project. We intend to market the remaining units to a very selected and distinguished clientele starting sometime in 2010.”
When will the project be completed?
OS: “The delivery of the project will start by the end of 2011 with a grace period of approximately six months, subject to authorities’ final approval.”
What are your future plans in Pakistan? Do you plan to launch similar projects?
OS: “We intend to launch an international standard, 6-star town club situated next to Creek Marina in the near future. We also plan to develop a mixed-use development project in DHA Karachi subsequently. We are genuinely committed to the Pakistan real estate market over the long haul and believe that with our involvement, we can set new benchmarks in the real estate sector.”