The Dubai-based developer Nakheel said on Sunday it is inviting contractors to submit bids to build the new Dh5 billion Deira Islands Boulevard.

The company will issue a tender for the construction of 16 residential towers containing 2,924 town houses and apartments spread over four clusters, it said. Each cluster will contain its own swimming pool, as well as retail, restaurant and recreation space. It expects the units to be delivered in 2020.

Each of the towers will be 21 storeys high and contain almost 670 one, two and three-bedroom apartments, which the developer will retain for its own leasing portfolio since Nakheel is looking to double the number of units it retains for lease to almost 36,000. The 16 towers will have a built-up area of about 7 million square feet and provide 4,500 podium-level parking spots for tenants.

Deira Islands Boulevard will be built on a 9 million sq ft area of land at the heart of the 15.3 sq km Deira Islands project. It will be built around the proposed new 6.5 million sq ft Deira Mall, for which a construction tender has already been issued.

About 20 per cent of the land allocated for Deira Islands Boulevard will be communal outdoor space containing gardens, shaded walkways and sports and wellness facilities.

Nakheel plans to add a further six towers – including two hotels, two serviced apartments and two residential – to the Boulevard at a later stage. It said that tenders for these will be issued “in due course”.

Deira Islands is a four-island project on a site that was initially earmarked to be another coastal palm project known as Palm Deira. The developer said last week that it has already spent about Dh3bn on its infrastructure. A Dh150-million access bridge to the islands has just been completed and a tender has been issued for six marinas at the site. The islands will also contain a night souq and several resort hotels, including an all-inclusive, 800-room RIU Hotels and Resorts property and a 550-room Centara Hotels and Resorts beachfront resort.

A new report by Dubai-based property broker Land Sterling stated that the second half of 2016 had been “lacklustre” in terms of property sales. Reported apartment sales were 19 per cent lower than in 2015, with buyers delaying purchasing decisions until market conditions become more predictable.

It added that it expects 2017 to be “a year of transition”, with a fairly flat first half leading to a much improved second half of the year as activity in the construction sector picks up.

“The pace of activity will improve markedly as federal investments and capital projects like Dubai Metro extension enter the execution phase. [The] construction sector is expected to get an impetus as projects get pushed for completions,” it said.

Speaking at an Inter Business Councils Infrastructure Forum event on Thursday, Dan Murphy, the Middle East vice-president of construction consultancy Ellis Don said: “I think you’re definitely going to continue to see a drive in residential [development] over the coming years. There’s a pretty general consensus now that we’ve seen the bottom of the market in terms of price fluctuations and we’re going to see growth over the next couple of years.”

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